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The Official Publication of the Illinois Restaurant Association
may 2016

NRA Show 2016 is Here!


It's that time of year—NRA Show is just days away! Meet the suppliers with the most innovative solutions, hear tried-and-true business practices from leading brands, and connect with other attendees to stay up-to-date on the latest trends, innovations and ideas that are pushing the industry forward. NRA Show draws more than 66,000 attendees and visitors from all 50 states and more than 100 countries to Chicago’s McCormick Place for the industry's largest gathering of operators, suppliers and more.

“We are thrilled that Chicago is host to the NRA Show, one of the largest gatherings of industry professionals highlighting the latest products and services,” explained IRA President & CEO Sam Toia. “The show is a stellar showcase of foodservice operators from around the globe, sharing innovations and new technologies to continue the enhancement of the industry.”

What's in store for 2016? A focus on top technology, incredible innovation, foodie favorites and impressive game changers.

Top Technology
There's no better place to see all of the latest restaurant tech offerings in one place to compare, test and learn which options are right for your operation. See how connectivity can be taken to the next level at Internet of Things sponsored by Microsoft, take in Tech Talks and clinics at Tech Pavilion, and head to Startup Alley to get familiar with the businesses and suppliers of the future.

Incredible Innovation
The Kitchen Innovations® and FABI Awards programs are considered the industry's gold standard for a reason. You'll experience the new frontier of flavors, food, and equipment—and you can only find them at NRA Show.

Raising the bar on efficiency and safety, this year’s Kitchen Innovations recipients range from Beverage Air’s walk-in cooler to RATIONAL’s kitchen management systems to fully automated espresso machines from Franke Coffee Systems. Judged by a panel of respected experts from across the foodservice industry, the recipients represent the latest in equipment and technology.

The FABI Awards showcase the best in nutrition, flavors and ingredients highlighting global food and drink. With everything from smoked oil and sauces from Atlanta, to gelato from G.S. Gelato and prime cuts of beef from Wagshal’s™, you’ll want to taste the FABI Award recipients products on the show floor.

BAR 16
Taste, pair and explore new products to create a top-notch bar program at BAR, open to all NRA show attendees. With specialty areas focusing on unique spirits to mixology competitions, BAR showcases the newest trends, ingredients and technologies and kicks off with a keynote address from Billy Dec of Rockit Ranch Productions.

Foodie Favorites
Whether you're looking to pick up a few new skills to take back to your operation at Foodamental Studio or just want to get a glimpse of your chef heroes live on the World Culinary Showcase stage, the Show is the place to be. Immerse yourself in authentic Italian food and wine at the brand new Bellavita Italian Pavilion, which is making its U.S. debut at NRA Show.

The World Culinary stage is where education meets entertainment. This year, nationally esteemed chefs and operators like Rick Bayless, the Food Network’s Anne Burell, Vermilion’s Rohini Dey and Lorena Garcia take the spotlight to share tips and techniques that launched their impressive careers. Plus, get in on the action during Foodamental Studio’s hands-on cooking demonstrations to hone new skills. Hosted in partnership with Kendall College, the schedule features acclaimed national chefs and industry leaders sharing their expertise.

“The Foodamental Studio experience highlights key trends from the show floor and education sessions and puts them into practice through an innovative learning experience for attendees,” Lisa Ingram, Convention Chair for NRA Show 2016 and CEO and President of White Castle System, Inc. says. “The NRA Show team is proud to bring the restaurant industry’s top chefs and thought leaders from around the country to the show floor, providing our attendees the opportunity to gain multiple new skills.”

The full schedule is available here.

Dynamic Discussions
Hear from NRA President & CEO Dawn Sweeney and industry innovators like Kimbal Musk of The Kitchen and Denny Marie Post of Red Robin during Signature '16, a new twist on the traditional keynote. Join the discussion around embracing the future and the direction the industry is headed in business, customer service and technology with #Signature16. Share questions before the discussion, and then grab a seat to take part in live polls and hear valuable feedback and answers.

Listen to Robert Irvine of Restaurant: Impossible and Jon Taffer of Bar Rescue share the real story behind their reality TV experiences. Unlock new ideas and way of doing business with our robust lineup of education sessions that touch on the most important issues operators are facing today.

Register today and get ready for a Show experience unlike any other!

Flavor Profile

Meet Aaron Zacharias, Owner and Operator at The Northman

The newly-opened dedicated cider bar in Lincoln Square, The Northman, has been the talk of the town! This month, we chatted with owner and operator Aaron Zacharias about the road to the cider-focused pub.

  • Tell us a little about your history. How did you get where you are today?
    • I started as a busboy at 15 and worked as a server, bartender, beer rep, wine rep, solicitor for a beverage ratings company and I also did some minor real estate rehab. My experience convinced me that I was ready to open up my first place, but as anyone in our industry knows—you learn by doing. And anyone that worked for us when we opened the Bar on Buena can tell you that I was as green as could be!

      The real answer on how I got here though…is that I drove to the office above Fountainhead this morning, but sometimes I walk.
  • How has the cider scene evolved through the years?
    • Cider has an exceptional history in America dating back to colonial times when it dominated the tables of inns and homes alike. In short, the introduction and evolution of lagers changed the drinking landscape and prohibition then killed the cider industry. Beer, wine and spirits re-emerged but cider was a lost category that didn’t see the light of day for almost 60 years after repeal.

      All of the cider apple orchards were gone after prohibition and even upon cider’s return, we were exclusively using apples grown for eating, not fermentation. Using those apples can produce very nice cider, but they lack acidity and complexity. Now, thanks to some risk-taking entrepreneurs, we’re seeing cider apple orchards being grafted and planted throughout the U.S. resulting in beautiful American-made ciders.

      Other regions around the world never truly lost their thirst for cider and with the rise in American demand, we’re now seeing an abundance of product from Spain, France and England that was not available a decade ago…some not even a year ago! The other day I was having a phenomenal Austrian cider that tasted like a blend of Grüner Vetliner and Chardonnay! Now that’s a terroir! Sorry, what’s the question? Right, cider evolution.

      I’m bullish on the present and future because people are not only discovering how refreshing, fun, flavorful and varied cider can be, but are learning how naturally cider pairs with food. It’s been a blast to witness at The Northman and we’re hearing from friends at other establishments that cider sales are soaring. Imagine the shock when I found out our neighbor at The Northman and he’s a huge cider fan! That was really cool and hopefully more of an indicator of the category’s revival than simply a coincidence.
  • To what do you attribute your success? 
    • I'll leave that for others to tell!
  • What is your biggest reward working in the restaurant industry? 
    • Definitely the people that I’ve met over the years…I’ve learned so much from so many individuals and hope to continue to do so – that includes managers that I’ve worked for and with, those that have worked for me and patrons of my establishments. Gaining friendships and knowledge is indeed a huge reward.
  • What do you see as being the most valuable resources/service that the IRA provides you?
    • First and foremost, representation, but I also appreciate the access to certification classes and the latest industry news.
  • What are you looking forward to in 2016?
    • That it doesn’t rain every weekend starting at 4pm on Friday in the month of June like last year… Otherwise, let’s see what comes!

  • Do you have any advice for aspiring restaurateurs?
    • Do as much research as you can before you jump in and follow your passion.

The Northman
4337 N. Lincoln Ave. | Chicago, IL 60618

(773) 935-2255

Follow on Facebook @TheNorthman



New Federal Overtime Regulations Released


This week, the U.S. Department of Labor and the Obama administration announced the long-awaited final rule on overtime regulations for salaried employees under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). Among a host of other overtime changes, the rule guarantees time-and-half pay to any salaried employee earning under $47,476 a year ($913 a week) and who works more than 40 hours in a week. These new rules are scheduled to become effective on December 1, 2016.

The final rule is 508 pages long. Comments from the National Restaurant Association are cited 22 times, and members of the National Restaurant Association and state restaurant associations submitted 2,648 comments in advance on the final rule. The U.S. Department of Labor has provided a three page overview. It can be summarized as follows:

  • It guarantees time-and-half pay to any salaried employee earning under $47,476 a year ($913 a week) and who works more than 40 hours in a week.
  • Automatically updates the salary threshold every three years, tying it to the 40th percentile of full-time salaried workers in the lowest-income Census region. The first update would be Jan. 1, 2020. Furthermore, the DOL projects a salary threshold of $51,000 by Jan. 1, 2020.
  • Makes no changes in the duties tests used to determine whether a salaried employee above the threshold is considered exempt from overtime pay.
  • For the first time, it allows certain bonuses and incentive payments to count toward up to 10 percent of the new salary level, if the payments are made on at least a quarterly basis.

Further Compliance Guidance
The Administration has issued a Small Business Compliance Guide. In addition, Alex Passantino, a Partner at the law firm of Seyfarth Shaw and former Acting Administrator of DOL’s Wage & Hour Division, and Angelo Amador, Senior Vice President & Regulatory Counsel at the National Restaurant Association, will hold a complimentary webinar on the overtime rule on Thursday, May 26, at 2:00 p.m. Central. There is no cost to attend this webinar, however, registration is required, which can be done by clicking here. We encourage you to participate in the webinar to learn more about content of the final rule, as well as the steps you need to take to comply. The IRA will be scheduling an informational seminar in the coming weeks as well. 

Next Steps
The U.S. Department of Labor moved ahead with these regulations despite widespread opposition and hundreds of thousands of comments taking issue with the rule. The National Restaurant Association is examining all legislative and legal strategies to block or nullify the rule. The Illinois Restaurant Association will continue to keep our membership fully updated with new developments, guidelines, and opportunities to stay engaged moving forward. Please contact Matt Quinn, IRA Government Relations & Communications Manager, at (312) 380-4122 or with any questions.


A La Carte

Heartland: Redefining the Way You Do Business


Heartland Payment Services serves businesses of all sizes and is vested in helping you achieve your goals. From payment and payroll processing to enterprise-quality solutions in security, technology, and marketing, they’re committed to your company’s success.

Security Solutions
Security drives all that Heartland does. With industry-leading technology, you can rest assured that you and your customers are in safe hands. The proprietary Heartland Secure™ is an inclusive card data security solution that protects merchants against the ever-evolving sophistication of today’s cybercriminal. Backed by the most comprehensive breach warranty in the industry, Heartland is able to protect card data from the moment a card is used.

Payroll can be complicated and time-consuming—taking your focus away from growing your business. Heartland provides employee payroll to entrepreneurs of all sizes. Whether you are looking for turnkey payroll for your expanding employee base or offering a 401(k) for the first time, their payroll and HR services offer reliable solutions. And you benefit from a three-year price lock and a single point of contact dedicated to your business.

Payment Processing
Fair, up-front pricing and data security that continues to set the industry standard. Heartland’s payment processing solutions help entrepreneurs succeed. The pricing model features true Interchange Plus pricing: All bankcard Interchange and fees assessed by the card brands are passed through to business owners without a markup of any kind.

Heartland Commerce
Secure. Reliable. Cost-effective. A point-of-sale solution should be all of these and scalable to your needs. Your business is unique, and Heartland offers customized, versatile and comprehensive systems designed to grow as your company does. With Heartland, your POS becomes the center of your commerce—allowing you to integrate with your other applications. But most importantly, Heartland’s proprietary POS security technology provides you with unparalleled protection.

Heartland and American Express Merchant Financing® have partnered to offer you a loan with a straightforward repayment plan. The terms are simple:

  • One-year and two-year terms available for eligible customers.
  • 8% to 14% flat, fixed fee on the one-year term; 16% to 28% flat, fixed fee on the two-year term.
  • No additional loan fees. For example, if you borrow $100,000 for one year at an 8% fixed fee, the total repayment value is $108,000.
  • Heartland now offers split funding for this American Express loan repayment, so your Heartland settlements are processed without additional delay.

For more information, visit or contact Jeff Bruce at or (773) 398-1013.




Hubbard Inn: Euro-Inspired Mid-Century Vibe


Inspired by Ernest Hemingway’s life and travels through Europe, Hubbard Inn is a chic, multilevel tavern nestled in bustling River North. The space transports guests to a café in Europe as they sip delicious cocktails and savor irresistible European-inspired eats. Luxe furnishings and eclectic features make Hubbard Inn the perfect spot for groups to gather while admiring the chic, eclectic ambiance.

Hubbard Inn celebrates the bohemian spirit of dining and quintessential mid-century cocktails, in an intimate interior that offers guests an eccentric design aesthetic, achieved through a mix of original art, antique furniture, vintage pieces and soft chandelier lighting.

Open for lunch, brunch and dinner Hubbard Inn has three floors, with multiple unique semi-private and private event space for 10-600 cherished guests.

Hubbard Inn
110 W Hubbard St | Chicago, IL 60654
(312) 222-1331
Follow on Facebook: @hubbardinn

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