John is President & CEO of the Ohio Restaurant Association. His parents and family operated the Rustic Lounge restaurant and bar in the 1970s, He was an executive at Wendy’s for nearly 20 years and teaches at The Ohio State University. He writes about the foodservice industry, inspiring restaurateurs, important issues and thought leadership. If you have an idea or comment, contact him at 614. 246.0203 or



John is President & CEO of the Ohio Restaurant Association. His parents and family operated the Rustic Lounge restaurant and bar in the 1970s, He was an executive at Wendy’s for nearly 20 years and teaches at The Ohio State University. He writes about the foodservice industry, inspiring restaurateurs, important issues and thought leadership. If you have an idea or comment, contact him at 614. 246.0203 or

GUEST BLOG: Want a strong culture? Consistency is key

PictureWal OzelloMy first job at Wendy’s was in their Communications Department as a video editor. When Dave Thomas passed away, I was tasked with creating a video montage of all the great things he said at our Annual Franchisee Convention over the years. I remember popping in the tape from 1984 and listening to Dave talk about excelling at customer service, having clean restaurants and above all, making sure Wendy’s made the best tasting food. There was also some of his signature catch phrases (we called them Davisms): “quality is our recipe,” “treat people with respect,” “give something back,” and “take care of your business and your business will take care of you.”

After listening to...

ORA Adding A+ Talent to our Board and Honoring Nick Kostis

Every coach and leader knows you win with great people. That’s why we’re re-organizing our team to address the evolution of the restaurant industry, and improve our products and services for members. It’s why we’re building our board of directors with an array of talent.

Over the past year, the ORA added top-notch directors, and we’ve frequently shared updates with you about them. See your current board here.

These directors bring an array of restaurant and foodservice industry backgrounds, diversity and management expertise to the ORA, plus impressive skills in management, foodservice operations, culinary, franchising, catering, equipment, distribution, finance, technology, government affairs, communications ...

Restaurant sales are improving ... and we are thankful

Sales at restaurants across the U.S. and Ohio are reportedly improving. This is confirmed by multiple sources and my conversations with owners, operators and general managers.

According to Larry Miller, a long-time restaurant analyst I worked with for years when I led Wall Street responsibilities for The Wendy’s Co. and Tim Hortons, same-store sales increased 1.4 percent at restaurants in October. It was the best performance he has tracked since February of last year, according his “MillerPulse” index.

That’s the good news as sales turned positive for the first time since June. More good news was that casual dining was the bright spot. Its same-store sales performance in the month was its best since September 2015. ...

The ORA is forming a new Human Resources Committee

The ORA is remaking itself on a daily basis. After nearly 100 years of serving the foodservice industry in Ohio, the accelerating pace of change in business today requires new and smarter thinking to help our members thrive.

What are the facts? Our members who operate restaurants and serve customers face a growing list of topics to master. No longer can a restaurant survive on just a great menu and a commitment to service. Restaurant owners and operators are SUPER busy with a range of priorities:

  • establishing a top-notch culture that attracts good people

  • solving hiring, training and retention issues in an era where it’s hard to find qualified employees

  • managing the strangling healthcare challenge and a host of complex HR topics

  • dealing with aggressive legislative policies that can hurt businesses

  • navigating shifting consumer and food trends

  • determining the best way to adapt to the technology revolution

That’s why the ORA launched a brand transformation earlier this year to help our members deal with these topics and write their own success story - We are offering our members more products, services, partners...

Restaurant industry filled with A+ leaders and phenomenal accomplishments

Most organizations invest considerable time assessing their people. The best employees are recognized for leadership and accomplishments. MVPs lift their organizations to new heights. They drive vision and mission. They champion excellent values. They achieve big goals. They elevate their teams to succeed. They work hard and smart. They grow revenue. They make money.


Ramping up A+ content and elite speakers for ORA members

Exclusive content and thought leadership are important benefits for ORA members.

We’ve made this a priority over the past year as part of our brand transformation. Events such as our Town Halls, Idea Factory meetings, Legislative Day, PAC events and our Mid-America Restaurant Expo are designed to bring the best to our members.

We deliver top-notch content to help members achieve success and subjects that are pressing our industry. The elite speakers we’ve featured would cost an organization thousands of dollars, but we offer all of this to members --- for FREE or at a very low cost.

Looking ahead, the ORA’s fall event schedule is packed with excellence (see our website for more details). We encourage you to attend and send...

Restaurant workforce expected to boom in Ohio and USA

The number of restaurant and foodservice jobs in the U.S. is expected to grow from 14.7 million today to 16.3 million by 2027 – that’s a total of 1.6 million new jobs over the next 10 years.

The projected growth in Ohio is equally impressive, according to our research experts at the National Restaurant Association. Total foodservice jobs in the Buckeye state are expected to expand 9.3% from 574,000 today to 627,500 by 2027.

What’s driving this incredible growth? It’s the insatiable demand by consumers (especially millennials) for food away from home and the entrepreneurial spirit of Americans who want to own their own business. They have a passion for hospitality and often dream about culinary genius, no doubt inspi...

Deep dive into internet trends and how it may impact your restaurant business

For many years, I led the investor relations program for Wendy’s, managing the restaurant company’s relationship with Wall Street. That part of my job seemed like 24x7 with the myriad of responsibilities for a publicly traded firm – earnings reports, SEC filings, roadshows, hedge funds, analyst reports, stock price, board meetings, etc.


Financial Analyst Mary Meeker

During many of those years “tech” ruled Wall Street and no one commanded more attention than Financial Analyst Mary Meeker. She helped Morgan Stanley snare major IPOs such as Google, Netscape and Priceline. She recommended bonanzas like Dell, Amazon and AOL. After the internet boom went bust, some other analysts were hit with penalties for promoting stocks they privately disliked. What a disaster.

Meeker, however, remained clean. Even after the crash, she kept that faith and insisted on the value of some tech stocks when investors had lost heart. Those who followed her advice and stuck with juggernauts like Amazon profited handsomely.

A few weeks ago, her legendary annual report on Internet Trends was published. It’s always fascinating. The presentation is a voluminous 355 slides full of insights. Meeker, a Kleiner Perkins executive, provides a perspective on the key aspects of internet use. She provides a look into which firms are winning. She looks at what’s growing, who is using tech tools and how. She also studies geographic and social data.

For those of us in the restaurant and foodservice business, understanding this sea change is imperative. Technology and innovation are rapidly changing how consumers use grocery stores, restaurants, food trucks and delivery in ways we could hardly imagine just 10 years ago.

And, speaking of Amazon, its acquisition of Whole Foods will accelerate that change. In just two days after the announcement, Whole Foods competitor Kroger, our Cincinnati-based grocery giant, lost $7 billion in market value. Wall Street fears grocery chains and other retailers are going to feel tremendous pressure from Amazon. Read more about this here.

Click this link to view the full Meeker report and note the following stats:

  • Internet usage per person is now 5.6 hours a day, including 3.1 hours on mobile devices.

  • Slide #13 highlights the time spent with the internet versus advertising spend.

  • Slide #25 highlights geo-targeted ads.

  • Slide #28 shows how Uber and Foursquare are working an alliance.

  • Slide #29 focuses on hyper-local targeting and slide #38 showcases effective social media.

  • Slide #54-58 illustrates how social media requires brand accountability and how the most engaged brands are driving sales.

For more insight, be sure to attend ORA's Idea Factory events that are spread throughout the state. Our next event is set for Wednesday, August 23 in Dublin. ORA members and the general public are invited to the event, which will feature Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption President and CEO Rita Soronen and Hudson Riehle from the National Restaurant Association. Register here.