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Policy Positions

Soda Tax: The IRA successfully lobbied with industry partners to repeal the penny-per-ounce soda tax passed by Cook County. We are a proud member of the Can the Tax coalition, and we oppose regressive beverage taxes at all levels. 

Minimum Wage: The IRA supports a reasonable, uniform minimum wage at the state level with preemption over municipalities versus a piecemeal approach. The IRA opposed minimum wage increases in the City of Chicago and Cook County to $13/hr. The IRA encourages the creation of a balanced, statewide proposal that brings the strongest benefit to employees and businesses of all sizes in Illinois.

Tip Credit: The IRA is working to maintain the tip credit for employers, even if there are minimum wage increases. Despite a $13 minimum wage increase in Cook County, the IRA secured a favored tipped wage rate for employers. Under current Illinois law, the tip credit is capped at 40% of the minimum wage. 

Scheduling Mandates: The IRA strongly opposes new burdensome scheduling mandate proposals, including the “Fair Workweek” ordinance introduced in the Chicago City Council. We are working with a broad coalition of business groups to defeat this ordinance. 

Happy Hour: The IRA was instrumental in the passage of the Culinary and Hospitality Modernization Act, which defined and permitted food and wine pairings, packages, happy hours, infusions, and other key reforms essential to the growth of our industry.

Bag Tax: The IRA successfully worked to exempt paper and plastic bags used by dine-in or take-out restaurants to contain food or drink purchased by the restaurant’s customers from the 2016 Chicago Bag Tax. 

18+ Year Old Alcohol Servers: The IRA lobbied to pass a Chicago ordinance that allows 18-20 year olds to sell and serve, but not pour, alcohol in restaurants, which expands the labor pool and improves youth unemployment rates citywide.

Paid Sick Leave: The IRA supports employer efforts to provide flexible, voluntary leave benefits for their employees. 

Restaurant Concealed Carry: The IRA successfully worked to prohibit concealed weapons in establishments that earn 50% or more of their revenue from alcohol.

Food Trucks: The IRA believes food trucks are an essential part of Chicago’s culinary community. We continue to support responsible, pragmatic public policies for all operators in the culinary industry. 

Illinois Dream Act/Temporary Visitors Driver’s License: The Illinois Restaurant Association worked with a coalition of stakeholders to pass the Illinois Dream Act, then worked to pass Temporary Visitors Driver’s Licenses (TVDL), which allows undocumented immigrants to travel to work, school, and home safely without fear of breaking the law. 

Mobile Food Carts: In 2015, a City of Chicago ordinance legalized mobile food carts in the City of Chicago. The IRA supports the implementation and enforcement of this program that addresses health and safety concerns, and respects Aldermanic authority to determine what works best in their neighborhoods.

Allergen Awareness Training: The IRA supports legislation to require allergen awareness training for restaurant managers, as it raises the standards for our industry and protects our businesses, consumers, and public health.

Third-Party Delivery Services: The IRA is working to address prevalent issues related to disruptive third party delivery services. IRA members have expressed concerns over the deceptive practices of third party delivery services that are currently delivering restaurants' food without entering into agreements with restaurants and without their consent. 

Hotel Tax: The IRA fought against the 1% hotel tax increase passed as a part of the 2016 Cook County Budget, as it makes visiting, touring, and dining in the Chicagoland area less appealing to travelers and conventioneers alike. 

Amusement Tax: The IRA opposes any expansion of the City of Chicago and Cook County’s amusement tax related to cable and satellite TV that would add to the financial burden on residents and the restaurant and bar industry.

Tourism Funding: The IRA was a key member of the coalition of hospitality and tourism groups that successfully advocated to restore state funding to all Illinois tourism bureaus over the past three years, including Choose Chicago. Tourism funding is crucial for Illinois and Chicago to promote our world-class restaurants and attractions.


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