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Benefits & Services


The Illinois Restaurant Association (IRA) is the largest, most active resource for the restaurant, bar and hospitality industry of Illinois. In addition to legislative advocacy, we provide access to cost saving programs, networking events, referrals, educational seminars and webinars, marketing opportunities, certification classes, and a distinguished board of nationally-recognized restaurant and food service companies.



Membership in the IRA gives you access to:


Advocacy During COVID-19 and Beyond


The IRA has achieved countless successes in recent years through our nonstop advocacy efforts. We work with our members and elected officials to successfully protect the interests of the restaurant industry in Illinois on various legislative and regulatory issues. 

During the COVID-19 crisis, the IRA has worked 24/7 to protect and support restaurants so they can survive now and thrive in the future. The Association has achieved the below results on behalf of the restaurant and hospitality industry. 

  • Industry Fixes in Paycheck Protection Program
    The IRA worked alongside the National Restaurant Association to urge Congress to make necessary reforms to the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), including: extension of the loan covered period from 8 weeks to 24-weeks, additional loan forgiveness eligibility if at least 60% of the loan is used on payroll (instead of 75%), and more. 
  • Expanded Outdoor Dining
    The IRA worked with Governor Pritzker and the state of Illinois to allow for expanded outdoor dining options for restaurants and bars during Phase III of Restore Illinois. 
  • Cocktails to Go, Extended Liquor Licenses
    The Illinois General Assembly recently passed legislation that allows for the sale of cocktails to go and for delivery. This pragmatic law change was the direct result of IRA advocacy alongside the Cocktails for Hope initiative. 
  • Alcohol Carry Out and Delivery Sales
    During the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, the IRA successfully petitioned the Illinois Liquor Control Commission to allow for the sale of beer, wine, and spirits for carry out and delivery from restaurants and bars. 
  • Suspending the ILCC Retailer Delinquency List
    Our Association collaborated with the ILCC and liquor distributors to suspend the state’s retailer delinquency list. Restaurants and bars now have additional flexibility with distributors to pay their alcohol invoices.
  • Pro Bono Consultant Networks for Restaurants
    The IRA has enlisted a dedicated group of attorneys and architects that are offering pro bono assistance to restaurant operators. These free resources further establish the IRA as the go-to resource for restaurant reopening questions and guidance.
  • Transparency from Third Party Delivery Services
    The city of Chicago has taken regulatory action due to IRA lobbying efforts that requires third party delivery services to fully disclose the fees charged to customers and restaurants on each transaction. This measure will help create needed transparency and more fair competition in the delivery space. 
  • Cutting Chicago Sidewalk Cafe Fees
    The IRA worked with Mayor Lightfoot and the Department of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection (BACP) to cut sidewalk cafe fees in Chicago by 75% and streamline the process for operators to obtain necessary permits for expanded outdoor dining. 
  • Deferred Business Taxes in Chicago and Cook County
    The IRA requested and secured several business tax deferrals from local authorities, including deferred alcohol and amusement taxes in Cook County, and deferred restaurant, parking, and amusement taxes in the city of Chicago. 
  • Previous IRA Legislative Victories
  • Secured restaurant-friendly concessions and exemptions in Chicago's Fair Workweek ordinance
  • Protected tip credit and ensured reasonable minimum wage increases in the city of Chicago, Cook County, and state of Illinois
  • Repeal of the Cook County soda tax
  • Brought happy hour back to Illinois
  • Secured restaurant exemption from the Chicago bag tax


COVID-19 Updates and Industry Alerts


Exclusive action alerts, newsletters, and industry reports from the IRA and National Restaurant Association keep you informed and prepared to manage and grow your business.

The IRA sends frequent updates related to COVID-19, reopening, relief programs, and the latest regulations. Click here to view our COVID-19 restaurant resources webpage. 


Discounts on Certification Classes and Training Products


Discounted tuition rates available to IRA Members for ServSafe Food Service Sanitation Manager, Food Handler, Alcohol/BASSET, and Allergen certification classes. Monthly classes held at the IRA office in English and Spanish. Private on-site classes available for groups of 10 or more.


Cost Savings Through IRA Endorsed Programs


Through IRA Endorsed Programs, suppliers to the foodservice industry offer valuable members-only savings on everyday expenses, such as: health care, music licensing, credit card and payroll processing, energy bills, insurance, uniforms, and more.


Educational Seminars and Webinars


The IRA hosts a variety of webinars and seminars on pressing issues facing our industry, such as staff retention, immigration enforcement, ADA compliance, harassment prevention, labor and employment liabilities, and more. We have also added a series of webinars focused on navigating reopening and best practices amid the pandemic. All past webinars can be found here


Expert Referrals


Membership provides access to industry experts in a variety of fields from HR, law, food safety, PR, insurance, accounting, and more.


Membership Events


In 2019, the IRA held an array of membership events including several mixers, roundtables and Meet the Experts, which featured top hospitality leaders for one-on-one speed coaching and power networking sessions. The IRA also hosted our Annual Golf Outing and Chef’s Table fundraiser, which brought together hundreds of industry professionals to raise money for the Association and Educational Foundation. While events for the rest of 2020 have been postponed, we look forward to hosting again in the near future!


Connections to the Next Generation of Culinary Leaders


IRA members can mentor and hire ProStart® students through the IRA Educational Foundation (IRAEF). ProStart® is a national, two-year program for high school students that develops the best and brightest talent into tomorrow’s industry leaders.


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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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