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Membership is the Foundation of Everything We Do
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Membership is the Foundation of Everything We Do

Founded in 1914, the Illinois Restaurant Association is a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting, protecting, educating and improving the restaurant industry in Illinois. We provide restaurant operators and suppliers in Illinois with valuable business services, networking opportunities, cost savings programs and advocacy. 


Meet our Chair: Sam Sanchez


Sam Sanchez is an accomplished restaurateur with an extensive hospitality industry background spanning concept development, bar and restaurant management and operations, new product development, menu development, advertising, marketing, and promotions. He specializes in American and Northern Mexican cuisine and is a tequila connoisseur. Maintaining viable and attractive neighborhoods for both the residents and the business sector is a priority for Mr. Sanchez. He is presently working with city and community leaders to stimulate economic growth in the 43rd Ward by redeveloping the Lincoln Park property vacated by Children’s Memorial Hospital in June 2012.

He has been a vocal participant in development plans for the Wrigleyville neighborhood, especially projects that will have a major impact on the neighborhood such as ballpark renovations, street closures, and the mixed-use Addison Park on Clark development. He is currently a board member for the Lakefront Sculpture Exhibit (LSE), a privately-funded, not-for-profit corporation that concentrates on enriching the community with public art projects while supporting local artists in the 43rd and 44th Wards.


Meet the Membership Team: 


 Eric Fine  Christine DeSousa
  Director of Sales and Marketing   Senior Member Relations Manager  
O: 3123804115 O: 3123804146
Eric has been with the IRA for 2 years and has big plans for the department! He brings years of restaurant, marketing, manufacturing and distribution experience to the IRA. Eric lives in Roscoe Village with his wife, 3 kids, and his Bernese Mountain Dog, Rocky. Christine has been with the IRA for over 4 years now and has no plans of slowing down. She brings many years of service experience and relationship building to the membership department and loves all things vegetarian,travelling the world, and baby animals.       



Since 1914, the hospitality industry in Illinois has relied on the Illinois Restaurant Association to be their voice.  Now it’s your turn to join the thousands of other operators, suppliers, and hospitality leaders by becoming a member of the IRA!


Membership in the Illinois Restaurant Association includes our weekly President’s Report which provides breaking news and updates on all restaurant, foodservice and hospitality industry matters at the national, state, county and city levels.  Keep in touch with pending and new legislation, while staying abreast on new business opportunities throughout Illinois.


The Illinois Restaurant Association is proud to have led the 2015 Culinary and Hospitality Modernization Act which legalized pairings, packages and happy hours statewide. 


Membership provides discounts on health and business insurance, energy management, POS needs, music licensing and other programs to help you save on operating costs.  In addition, we provide discounted ServSafe® Sanitation Manager, Food Handler, Alcohol/BASSET and other training programs for your entire workforce.   


Our membership team facilitates local operator-only roundtables throughout the state, our annual Meet the Experts™ speed coaching event, networking events, as well professional development seminars for owner/operators, managers and other team leaders.  


Our special events team, who has managed the food and beverage operations for the Taste of Chicago since its inception, also puts on events throughout the year.  Members have the opportunity to attend and/or participate in these events, which include the Annual Golf Classic, From the Chef’s Table Gala, and the IRA Annual Meeting.


The Illinois Restaurant Association owns and operates Chicago Gourmet™ and is proud to have celebrated its 8th and most successful year!  Drawing over 13,000 people, Chicago Gourmet is quickly becoming one of the most recognized food, wine, and spirit festivals in the United States.


We are proud to have played an instrumental role in bringing the James Beard Awards to Chicago this past May.  Previously held in New York City, we have secured these prestigious awards here in Chicago through 2017 making us the culinary capital of the United States!


For more information on the Illinois Restaurant Association or becoming a member, please visit or call 312.787.4000


Join the IRA and enjoy the benefits of membership. The four member types are:

  • Operator Member (Restaurant/Foodservice) - Restaurant members represent tableservice, quickservice, on-site foodservice, cafeterias, and more. Restaurant Operator Dues Info
  • Associate Member (Product/Service Supplier) - For any company, including industry suppliers, distributors, and consultants, that supplies goods and services to the industry. Associate Dues Info
  • Student Member - Full-time students in a 2 or 4 year restaurant/hospitality program who are 18 years or older. Student Dues Info
  • Faculty Member - For full-time educators in an accredited program in the restaurant/hospitality field. Faculty Dues Info

To register on the IRA website as a Nonmember:

  • Nonmember - To register with the IRA as a Nonmember, select this type. There is no cost to create a website registration however no benefits of membership (including class discounts) will be available. PLEASE NOTE: Those seeking to attend an IRA Sanitation Class, but are not a current IRA Member, must have or create a Nonmember website registration to sign up for the Class.

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33 W. Monroe, Ste 250
Chicago, IL 60603
Toll Free: 800-572-1086
Ph: 312-787-4000
Fax: 312-787-4792


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