Learning at Every Turn – Washington DC, Delivery and Millennials

Last week a group of ORA board members and restaurateurs descended on Washington, D.C. as part of the National Restaurant Association’s Public Affairs Conference. This annual event is an opportunity to meet the power elite in our nation’s capital.

For 2½ days we heard from members of Congress, former White House lieutenant Reince Priebus, restaurant CEO’s and others. We shared stories, visited Capitol Hill to meet with representatives and made our case about issues critical to the health of our industry:
The need to return to a 15-year depreciation schedule.
Legislation for common sense immigration.
Legislation to reform the Affordable Care Act’s employer mandate and restore the 40-hour work week.
An opportunity for restaurants to reasonably address America’s with Disabilities Act (ADA) requirements and avoid frivolous lawsuits.

I’ve participated in these trips for a few years with the ORA and our Director of Government Affairs Joe Rosato, and before that as Chief Communications Officer at Wendy’s. It’s one of the marvelous aspects of our American democracy – we the people have a voice and our representatives want to hear from us. Quite simply, we must be at the table with our government leaders or business could get even more challenging with regulations and red tape.

My advice – if you have not taken part in a legislative trip to Washington or to the Statehouse in Columbus, add it to your “TO DO” list. Don’t leave it to others to control the decision making.

While in Washington, I spent quality time with many of the best and brightest in our industry who represent brands such as Dunkin’ Donuts, Rusty Bucket & Tavern Cameron Mitchell Restaurants, White Castle, Bob Evans, Michael Symon Restaurants, Firehouse Subs, Wendy’s and more. We talked intently about the industry and staying relevant as changes in society, business and technology accelerate. The pace of change is incredible.

On the tech front, we shared insights about the rapid growth of off-premise food. We discussed the newest services, software, kiosks, delivery companies and trends. What a moment in time for our industry.

Do you need to stay on top of this? The answer is yes.

Consider these facts – four out of five millennials will be parents by 2026. According to Technomic, parents use various off-premise channels more frequently. They are:
67% more likely to use delivery-only restaurants
63% more likely to use third-party delivery
56% more likely to use grocery delivery
44% more likely to use meal kits.

Almost half of consumers (49%) prefer to eat at home versus in a restaurant. Every restaurant must ask the question – can we offer off-premise food service to take advantage of this mega trend that will reshape the landscape?

Stay tuned to the ORA, #ORATech and our Mid-America Restaurant Expo as we will bring you more insights about this rapidly evolving slide of the restaurant and foodservice industry.