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IRA FAQs
  1. How is the restaurant industry in Illinois projected to perform in 2013?
  2. How important is sustainability and social responsibility? What does the Illinois Restaurant Association support in these areas?
  3. How is the industry considering nutrition for both adults and children in this day and age?
  4. What industry trends should restaurateurs and chefs keep an eye out for in 2013?
  5. Where is the Illinois Restaurant Association’s stance on food trucks?
  6. How is the Illinois Restaurant Association able to represent the best interests of the industry at all levels of government?
  1. How is the restaurant industry in Illinois projected to perform in 2013?
    In 2012, the restaurant industry in Illinois employed over 516,000 people and totaled 20.9 billion in sales. In 2013, we’re looking at a projected 3.7% increase, with 517,900 jobs provided and over $21.7 billion in sales. For more information, state-specific data for Illinois is viewable here, and the National Restaurant Association’s 2013 Industry Forecast can be obtained here.

  2. How important is sustainability and social responsibility? What does the Illinois Restaurant Association support in these areas?
    We continually encourage our members to think ahead, especially when it comes to sustainability and social responsibility. Whether it's reducing energy and water use or seeking reusable materials in build out, the Association and its members believe in preserving and recycling our resources whenever possible. The National Restaurant Association has extensive programs in place that we wholly support and pass down to our restaurants in Illinois. Learn more here.

  3. How is the industry considering nutrition for both adults and children in this day and age?
    Children's nutrition will be among the strongest restaurant menu trends in 2013 according to the National Restaurant Association's What's Hot survey of nearly 1,800 American Culinary Federation chefs. As the everyday diner seeks more healthful eating options – and products that are sourced from local farmers – it is our responsibility to be involved, working with our members to embrace these growing needs. From the National Restaurant Association’s < href="http://www.restaurant.org/foodhealthyliving/kidslivewell/about/">Kids Live Well campaign, in which several Illinois restaurants participate, to continual awareness and educational opportunities for our members, health and wellness will always be a major priority in our industry.

    Read more about how restaurants in America and in our state are taking the lead on nutrition.

  4. What industry trends should restaurateurs and chefs keep an eye out for in 2013?
    The National Restaurant Association each year prepares its "What’s Hot” culinary forecast of menu trends for the coming year. In late 2012, the NRA surveyed more than 1,800 professional chefs – members of the American Culinary Federation – to find that children’s nutrition and local sourcing will continue to be the hottest trends on restaurant menus in 2013. This year, the NRA also surveyed nearly 200 professional bartenders – members of the United States Bartenders’ Guild – revealing that onsite barrel-aged drinks, food-liquor pairings, and culinary cocktails will be the hottest trends on restaurant drink menus in 2013.

    Here are the top food trends that were identified:
    1. Locally sourced meats and seafood
    2. Locally grown produce
    3. Healthful kids' meals
    4. Environmental sustainability as a culinary theme
    5. Children's nutrition as a culinary theme
    6. New cuts of meat (e.g. Denver steak, pork flat iron, teres major)
    7. Hyper-local sourcing (e.g. restaurant gardens)
    8. Gluten-free cuisine
    9. Sustainable seafood
    10. Whole grain items in kids' meals

    The beverage trends identified included:
    1. Onsite barrel-aged drinks
    2. Food-liquor/cocktail pairings
    3. Culinary cocktails (e.g. savory, fresh ingredients)
    4. Micro-distilled/artisan liquor
    5. Locally produced spirits
    6. Locally sourced fruit/berries/produce
    7. Beer sommeliers
    8. Regional signature cocktails
    9. Beer-based cocktails
    10. Locally produced beer

  5. Where is the Illinois Restaurant Association’s stance on food trucks?
    The Illinois Restaurant Association supports food trucks and was pleased to work with both the Mayor's Office and Chicago’s aldermen to ensure that all parties’ best interests were represented in the current ordinance.

    We will continue to support opportunities for small business owners and entrepreneurs to enter the food industry in a way that supports Chicago’s world-class culinary offerings, is safe for consumers, maintains important public health standards, and is a real driver of economic activity in the city.

  6. How is the Illinois Restaurant Association able to represent the best interests of the industry at all levels of government?
    Government at the local, state and national levels have a lot of say over how one runs a restaurant. From immigration reform to health care and taxes, the Association is comprised of registered lobbyists who advocate daily on behalf of the best interests of our industry, both in the State and in Washington D.C.

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