FOOD FOR THOUGHT LEADERSHIP

Author:

​JOHN D. BARKER

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 at 

Author:

​JOHN D. BARKER

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 at 

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Sep
24
ORA evolution continues with Website 1.0 and new Premier Vendor– MoPro

The next step in the ORA’s brand transformation is right before your eyes. Just log into our new website at ohiorestaurant.org and scroll through the resources and content designed for restaurant professionals.


The ORA site represents the future of our industry – it’s visually stunning, highlights culinary and food images, and is responsive and mobile-friendly. It showcases the diversity of the restaurant, foodservice and hospitality business. It features our logos and color palette of blueberry, watermelon and quinoa – for those of you who love design as much as our Managing Director of Marketing and Communications, Maureen O’Rourke.

Maureen is the orchestrator of our brand and led the transformation starting...


Jul
09
Innovation in Foodservice Keeps Coming, Are You Ready for Ghosts?

Innovation in Foodservice Keeps Coming, Are You Ready for Ghosts?
The pace of change is accelerating in most industries:

  • Have you been in an emergency room lately? – Technological breakthroughs are enabling doctors, physician assistants and nurses to better care for patients.

  • Been on the floor of an auto manufacturing plant? – Filled with robotics.

  • Taken a ride in a driver-less vehicle? – Soon you will be able to in central Ohio thanks to the Smart Columbus initiative.

  • The computer/network server in our office at the ORA fits in a small closet. A decade ago servers filled entire floors in climate-controlled offices.


In foodservice, innovation is racing forward. Have you eaten a fresh, antioxidant-packed açaí bowl topped with granola and fruit? Do you like Poke? How about dinner, wine and dancing at Whole Foods?

How about these innovations – automated hamburger-cooking kitchens, kiosks at thousands of fast-food restaurants, cashless restaurants and mobile ordering through an emoji?

How about the reinvention of the food court we used to enjoy at shopping malls? Today this looks like the West Side Market in Cleveland, Findlay Market in Cincinnati and the North Market in Columbus. It also looks like the Short North Foo...


Feb
12
Restaurant industry sales “snowed under” in January after good Q4

Volatile weather, cold and snow can negatively impact restaurant sales and this winter is no exception.

According to industry tracking firm TDn2K, U.S. restaurant same-store sales fell 0.3% in January. New England restaurant sales suffering the biggest decline at -2.3%.

The worrisome part of this report is that restaurant traffic, the most important component of sales, fell across the U.S. by -3.0% during January and followed three months where sales were either positive or flat.

Let’s hope tax cuts will boost consumer confidence and offset fears about the rocky stock market. We need a boost to restaurant traffic to regain momentum in February.

The TDn2K report comes right after we heard that the country’s largest restaurant chai...


Feb
06
#MAREXPO '18 a big hit...looking to 2019!

It’s already been a week since the Mid-America Restaurant Expo in Columbus. I sure hope you attended, but if you didn’t, here’s a quick recap.

Feedback from the thousands of restaurateurs throughout Ohio and the Midwest who attended the Expo was extremely positive. They loved it and can’t wait for next year.

Attendees appreciated all of the excellent exhibitors, new contacts and business opportunities. They learned from elite speakers and experienced several brand new elements, including the Flavors of the Midwest and Burger Battle. Our Industry Award winners were inspiring, especially lifetime achievement winner Dan Young of Young’s Jersey Dairy in Yellow Springs. To top it all off, celebrity chef Michael Sym...


Jan
21
Learn More About the Restaurant Industry and Economy for 2018

Ohio restaurateurs are hoping the cold, snowy and icy weather over the first three weeks of the year begins to ease. I’ve spoken with many restaurant operators recently and business has been good in January – when they're open and roads are passable.

Those of us who've been in the industry for years know that weather can negatively impact sales as customers stay home rather than eating out. Unlike many other industries and businesses that catch up on sales as weather improves – such as automobiles, appliances, services, clothing, etc. – once a restaurant loses a meal occasion, the revenue goes with it. Customers end up replacing a potential restaurant meal by eating at home. Perhaps the best opportunity for a resta...


Dec
12
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 ...


Nov
21
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. ...


Nov
06
Oct
30
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 - http://www.ohiorestaurant.org/. We are offering our members more products, services, partners...


Oct
03
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.

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