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February 2014

Affordable Care Act Rule Changes

Some employers will receive relief under the Affordable Care Act's employer mandate next year, the White House announced on Monday.

The ACA’s employer mandate eventually will require employers of 50 or more full-time-equivalent employees to either offer health benefits to their full-time employees or face possible penalties. The mandate originally was due to take effect in 2014, but the White House last summer moved the effective date to 2015.

In a final rule issued Monday to explain how the mandate will work, the Obama Administration said that employers with 50 to 99 full-time-equivalent (FTE) employees won't be subject to the law’s employer-mandate penalties until 2016.

This change, and other changes in the final rule, will provide additional flexibility for employers, especially those at or near the 50 FTE-employee definition of a "large employer” under the ACA. The Illinois Restaurant Association has been working with the National Restaurant Association to press regulators for these changes and will continue to do so.

According to Treasury Department officials, other provisions of the final rule:

  • Make permanent the "look-back measurement method:" The final rule gives covered employers the option of using a look-back period to measure the full- or part-time status of variable-hour and seasonal employees. This measurement method can give employers more stability and predictability in knowing which employees are eligible for health care coverage under the law. The Treasury Department also clarified that seasonal employees in positions working six months or less in a year generally aren’t considered full-time employees.
  • Offer transition relief for certain employer penalties: Penalty "A" will apply under the law to covered employers who fail to offer minimum essential coverage to "substantially all” of their full-time employees. For 2015, the Treasury Department says "substantially all" means employers must offer coverage to at least 70 percent of full-time employees. Starting in 2016, covered employers must offer coverage to 95 percent of their full-time employees to avoid Penalty A.
  • Offer transition relief for employers with non-calendar-year health plans: For covered employers who offer non-calendar-year plans, the final rule clarifies that the employer mandate will take effect on the first day of their plan year in 2015, rather than Jan. 1, 2015.

See the Treasury Department's press statement and fact sheet for more information.

For continuing updates on the law, visit the NRA’s Health Care Headquarters.

40 Hours is Full Time

The IRA and NRA continue to advocate for structural changes in the healthcare law that only Congress can address, such as the definition of full-time employee. Restaurants are asking Congress to come together in a bipartisan manner to better align the definition a full-time employee with current business practices, eliminate the duplicative automatic-enrollment provision, and simplify the determination of a small business under the law.

The U.S. House is considering HR 2575, the Save American Workers Act Bill, which would increase the Affordable Care Act's definition of a full-time employee from 30 to 40 hours. This bill is co-sponsored by Rep. Dan Lipinski (D-IL) and Rep. Todd Young (R-IN), giving it bipartisan support. The legislation has been marked up in committee and will hopefully be heading to the floor soon. The IRA's Healthcare Committee Chairman Steve Palmer is asking IRA members to submit statements supporting this rule change.

Click here for a sample letter.

How You Can Help:

Congress can act to provide employers and employees relief from the health care law's 30 hour definition of full-time and preserve the ability of restaurants to grow and create jobs. In fact, the House Committee on Ways and Means approved the change last week. Now that Congress is shining a bright light on this issue, we need your help to ask more members of Congress to support legislation to make the changes we need.

Submit a Letter:

Please submit a letter to the IRA by sending your statement to Andy Peters at


Q&A With Vincent and Priscila Satkoff

The Illinois Restaurant Association recently had the opportunity to sit down with Vincent and Priscila Satkoff, the husband and wife team who own Salpicon in Chicago's Gold Coast neighborhood. Vincent and Priscila discussed the business, their dedication to culinary excellence, and how to get along when the kitchen gets chaotic.

You met in Cozumel, Mexico. Can you tell us the story of how your partnership, in both life and business, started?
I was taking an extended vacation in Cozumel and Priscila was visiting from Mexico City. We met on her first day in town and started to date. It was love at first sight. I asked her to marry me on the second date, but first I needed to know if she liked wine (yes), cheese (yes), and garlic (yes, yes, yes!). I knew then that we would be compatible for life.

How did opening a restaurant together come about?
Priscila has been cooking since she was a young girl. I’ve been in the Restaurant Business for many years. We decided to combine our expertise and the result was Salpicón.

Salpicón has been open for nearly 20 years. To what do you attribute this success in this continuously changing industry?
We are still passionate about the restaurant business and try to keep up with the times by listening to our guests.

How long have you been married? To what do you attribute the success of your marriage?
We celebrated our 27th anniversary this past September. We always try to listen to each other and we love to laugh together!

What is the best part of working together?
We both are doing what we love. We share each other’s lives twice as much as couples who don’t work together.

How do you celebrate Valentine's Day? What does Salpicón have planned for the holiday?
We work at Salpicón during the shift and when we finish and go home we share some great Champagne!

Salpicón will be offering a 4 course prix-fixe menu for $75 per person (exclusive of tax and gratuity.)

Do you believe that couples that work together, stay together?
By working together we share each other’s highs and lows and at the end of the day, we know what we have accomplished.

IRA Centennial: Featured Restaurants in January

To celebrate the IRA's Centennial Year, we will be profiling long-standing Chicago restaurants on our Facebook Page. We profiled five of Chicago's classic establishments in January:

Lou Mitchell's

Started in Chicago in 1923 and located on Jackson Blvd., Lou Mitchell's attracts people from all over the country and world. Lou’s is not only known for its food, but also for the fact that they hand out donut holes and milk duds to customers waiting in line since 1958. Lou Mitchell's Facebook page.




Manny's Cafeteria & Delicatessen

Manny’s opened in its current location on Jefferson St. in 1964. The dining room walls in Manny’s are decorated with news clippings, snapshots, and memorabilia demonstrating how deeply Chicagoans treasure this historic restaurant - as a place to eat and meet, and as a memento of downtown as it was a half century ago, a relic of the past. Manny's Facebook page.


Home Run Inn

The original Home Run Inn pizzeria was located on Chicago’s south side in 1947. Today, there are three pizza restaurants in Chicago and six surrounding the Chicagoland area. Home Run Inn pizzas are still made from the original family recipe created in 1947 by Mary Grittani and Nick Perrino. Home Run Inn's Facebook page.


Monical's Pizza

In 1959 the Monical family started making pizzas in the little town of Tolono, IL. Before long, their recipe became a hit with many of their local friends and neighbors. Thus was born Monical's Pizza®, a name that over the years has become synonymous locally. Monical's Facebook page.


RJ Grunt's


Opened in June 1971 in Lincoln Park, RJ Grunts, was the first Lettuce Entertain You restaurant. Richard Melman and his first partner, Jerry A. Orzoff, wanted to create an upbeat eatery geared toward young singles interested in rock music, casual clothes and healthy food. RJ Grunt's Facebook page.


The IRA will continue to profile Chicago restaurants throughout the year. Please visit our Facebook page today for updates!.


Membership Profiles Now Available at

The IRA recently launched a new website platform, which allows Association members to create a profile for their business. We encourage you to invite everyone on your management team to create a profile under your membership and empower them to become active online with this new and exciting platform. Login, create your profile, and get your name out there today!

In making the change we were forced to reset all usernames and passwords on our system as follows:

Username: First Initial and Last Name (John Doe would be jdoe) NOT CASE SENSITIVE
Password: Restaurant1 (CASE SENSITIVE)

Please login, change your password and invite your managers to setup a profile.

Local Restaurant Achieves Excellence in Energy


He was paying bills in his restaurant one evening about a decade ago when a light bulb burnt out above his head. Joey Terrell, the owner of the Denny’s restaurant on Old Lagrange Road in Mokena, Illinois, only had a 12 watt compact florescent light (CFL) bulb available as a replacement. As he secured the bulb, Terrell did some quick math. His restaurant had roughly 100 light bulbs at 100 watts each. Were he to replace these with 12 watt bulbs, the savings would mean $440 per month in electricity costs.

Years later, Terrell opened a second Denny’s on Plainfield road in Joliet, Illinois and implemented green features to make his restaurant one of just a small population of LEED certified restaurants in the country. In the first 12 months, utility expenses were $20,000 less than a similar restaurant.

Cost Savings are Tremendous
"There are so many things restaurants can do to improve energy efficiency” Terrell said. While it takes a bit of time and research, the cost savings and environmental impact are tremendous, he continued. For restaurant owners looking to reduce costs, Terrell recommends starting by making wise replacements. For example, replace burnt out light bulbs with energy efficient ones. If a new roof is needed, consider a white roof to reduce air-conditioning costs. If the dishwasher breaks, replace it with a high efficiency dishwasher from Ecolab.

Visit to see what small changes restaurants can make to see big savings in areas from construction, to water consumption, to natural gas usage and daylight harvesting.

Your Help is Needed
Terrell is working with the Illinois Restaurant Association, the National Restaurant Association and the U.S. Green Building Council to help other restaurants institute energy efficiency improvements that both save money and support the environment.

But there is a challenge. Right now, there are no standards in place to guide energy efficiency in restaurants. In order to develop an energy performance score, a robust data set is needed to understand energy use and operating characteristics of restaurants across the U.S.

By participating in a survey, you can help build this robust data set and help create guidelines for energy efficiency. A link to the survey can be found here.

The Bottom Line
With ovens, microwaves, toasters, grills, dishwashers, freezers and refrigerators, it’s no secret restaurants use a lot of energy. Simple improvements can make a big difference towards reducing costs and increasing sustainability.

Learn more about what your restaurant can do at


News & Notes

Lunch and Learn

On Wednesday, January 22 the Illinois Restaurant Association hosted its first Lunch & Learn of 2014 at The Grid. The event was sponsored by Concierge Preferred and Social Media Beast.

Thank you to our panelists, Shannon Boland: The Blackstone Hotel, Bobby Gonzalez: Hotel Palomar, Philippe Gills: The Langham Chicago and Sheryl Novak: Corporate Concierge & President, National Concierge Association Chicago Chapter. Special thanks to Executive Committee member Glenn Keefer, Keefer's Restaurant, for being the emcee and Jim Gilligan for moderating the panel.

IRA and Heart of Illinois Hospitality Association Honor Chef Dustin Allen of Edge

Director of Membership Eric Fine was on hand on Monday, January 27 at Pair a Dice Casino in Peoria to help the Heart of Illinois Hospitality Association celebrate their Winterfest Gala. The Illinois Restaurant Association sponsored the Newcomer of the Year Award which was presented to Edge By Chef Dustin Allen, located in Peoria.

Don't Miss It

IRA Annual Meeting

The Annual Meeting is Thursday, February 27 at the Hyatt Regency Chicago, 151 E. Wacker Drive. The event will include the installation of Ken Raskin, Manny's Cafeteria & Delicatessen, as the 2014 Chairman of the Board. Click here to register and for more details.

Springfield Lobby Day
The IRA's Annual Springfield Lobby Day has been set for Wednesday, March 5, and will be in partnership with the Illinois Hotel and Lodging Association and the Illinois Council of Convention & Visitor Bureaus. To register for the event please click here. For questions, or further information, please contact Andy Peters at 312-380-4134 or


New Members

The Association is pleased to welcome:


Barrelhouse Flat

Cyrano's Farm Kitchen

La Cuchara

Egg Harbor Cafe

Godfrey Hotel


Where Magazine

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