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Hospitality MN Leader Gets Industry Send-off

Retiring Hospitality Minnesota CEO Dan McElroy with wife Mary (left) and Holiday Inn Express owner Judy Rieckhoff.

As everyone in the crowded ratskeller at Summit Brewing raised their glass, Dan McElroy looked around with smile as his wife, Mary, brushed tears from her cheek. When it was his turn to speak, McElroy, who retired from his post as president and CEO of Hospitality Minnesota after seven-and-a-half years, kept it short, thanking his “incredible team” and recognizing the commitment of association members to always improving their industry.

“I didn’t always know the answer, I knew who to call,” he said of the many members of the Minnesota restaurant, lodging, and resort and campground associations who doubled as resources for just about any question.

Jason Subbert, past chairman of the Hospitality Minnesota Education Foundation and a member of its board of directors, said what most impressed him about the retiring CEO was how McElroy “helps everyone do their job well.”

“He has this amazing ability to connect people with other people,” said Subbert. “Dan really helped our industry move forward because it’s all about people helping people.”

As a former mayor and state representative who later served as former Governor Tim Pawlenty’s commissioner of finance and chief of staff, McElroy was also able to draw on his deep knowledge of government affairs and public policy.

McElroy joined Hospitality Minnesota in 2011, replacing Dave Siegel and becoming executive vice president of the Minnesota Restaurant Association at a time when the restaurant count in the state was poised to explode and restaurant operators themselves would soon face numerous changes in their industry. As consumer preferences shifted away from fine dining, and fast-casual and other limited-service concepts grew in popularity—accompanied by technology at just about every level of operations—Minnesota restaurants had plenty of local issues with which to contend.

McElroy and the MRA were involved in everything from loosening restrictions from food-to-alcohol sales ratio ordinances and sales tax exemptions to immigration reform and the ongoing work to pass a statewide minimum wage that recognizes tips as income. 

Liz Rammer, the first woman to lead Hospitality Minnesota, took over the president and CEO role in July. She joins the organization at a time when St. Paul is exploring a city minimum wage increase to $15 (Minneapolis passed its own version in 2017) and local governments are passing their own sick and safe leave ordinances. Duluth recently joined Minneapolis and St. Paul in its passage of a sick-leave ordinance; its version requires employers to allow employees to accrue an hour of leave for every 50 hours worked.

Rammer’s background includes leadership roles in both corporate and nonprofit organizations. Most recently she was vice president of marketing and a member of the executive management team at Life Link III, a nonprofit air medical transport company headquartered in Minneapolis. (For more on McElroy’s retirement and his introduction of Rammer, see the MRA column on page 20. Rammer will be taking over writing the column that keeps the industry updated on the association’s activities.) 

Dan McElroy introduces new Hospitality
Minnesota CEO Liz Rammer (right). 

There for the send-off are (left to right)
Jay Fusco of AmeriPride, Trish Stevens
of Hospitality MN, and Mike Meyer of Sysco.

Arlyn Lomen (left), president of Rancher’s
Legacy Meat Co., and VP of Operations
Jeremy Turnquist join many others at Summit to wish Dan McElroy well.


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