The Oregon Restaurant & Lodging Association (ORLA) has hired Nicole Peterson as its new Government Affairs Coordinator. Peterson will be the new steward of the Portland Kitchen Cabinet and its steering committee, focusing on grassroots engagement with restaurateurs and supporting their community building efforts.
“We are excited to have Nicole join our team at ORLA to add crucial capacity for our ongoing work in the Portland restaurant marketplace. Business models and paths to sustainability are changing rapidly and there are many opportunities to bring the strengths of restaurants to more Portland community conversations,” said Jason Brandt, President & CEO.
Nicole previously worked as a Research Assistant for a state and local government affairs team in Illinois and worked on a variety of issues from happy hours to baseball stadium renovations. Since moving to Oregon, she has worked in local government, giving her a broader understanding of the issues from the governing body perspective. She received her bachelor’s degree in Social Policy from Northwestern University.
In her new role with the Portland Kitchen Cabinet, Nicole relishes the opportunity to help Portland restaurants and the broader community gather, collaborate, and flourish by providing more opportunities for community engagement and advocacy for the industry. This group of informed, active and motivated hospitality community members serve as industry ambassadors with policymakers, opinion leaders, community leaders and partner organizations. With more than 100 members, the Portland Kitchen Cabinet is a proud partner of the Oregon Restaurant & Lodging Association and the National Restaurant Association.
On June 30, the Oregon Legislature officially came to a close. The 2019 session was marked by hyper-partisanship, two walkouts by Senate Republicans and dozens of new laws affecting the hospitality industry. Several key bills will affect how restaurants and lodging properties conduct business in the near future. Watch for ORLA's full recap of the session coming soon to the Advocacy page.
Here are a few quick updates:
HB 2005 – Paid Family and Medical Leave
SB 90 – Plastic Straws on request
Plastic straws in restaurants are now only available “on request” unless a customer is using the drive through and then employees may ask the customer if they would like a straw. Effective as of June 13, 2019.
HB 2509 – Plastic Bag Ban
Single use disposable plastic bags are banned from restaurants and grocery stores. Retailers may charge for paper bags. Effective date is January 1, 2020.
HB 3137 – Collection of local lodging taxes by Oregon Department of Revenue
Provides that transient lodging tax becomes due when occupancy of transient lodging with respect to which tax is imposed ends. This bill will help eliminate the issue of properties collecting and remitting the lodging tax to the state and then if a customer cancels, having to go back and recover the lodging tax paid in order to refund the customer the tax. Effective date January 1, 2020.
SB 248 – Increase in certain fees charged by OLCC
Fees for OLCC licenses will double effective July 1, 2019. Negotiated separately from this bill is the option to renew an OLCC alcohol license every two years instead of annually.
Engage en·gage | \ in-ˈgāj , en-\transitive verb
1: to offer (something…) as backing to a cause or aim… to expose to risk for the attainment or support of some end (Merriam-Webster)
WORKFORCE. Whenever you hear this word now among our industry it seems attached to another word, “lack.” Lack of recruits. Lack of skills. Lack of commitment.
Is this situation hopeless? It may seem that way to those who have not yet engaged in the myriad of ways hospitality industry partners have become involved in addressing these ‘lack of’ challenges. A few examples of partnerships ORLAEF is involved with may be inspirational!
RECRUITING AND BUILDING A PIPELINE Oregon has more than 3,000 high school students involved with ProStart. Without industry involvement and encouragement to pursue foodservice careers, the result of these students’ experience in the two-year culinary and management program could be just the memory of a fun elective course and a personal skill-builder. In many states, however, this foodservice career exploration program has become an effective pipeline for future employees.
How to engage? For example, Sysco Portland realized that its foodservice clients cannot succeed without a healthy workforce, and so have made supporting ProStart and other culinary training programs a top priority via sponsorship, mentorship, and scholarships! Learn more about their ideas by listening to a recent Boiled Down podcast, #22-The Future Workforce, at OregonRLA.org/podcast.
Engagement can take many forms. Think about an adult that inspired you, a teacher, an employer, a coach—today’s youth need mentors just as much, if not more, than previous generations. I asked Irina Bakun, a former ProStart student herself, culinary school graduate, and chef why she volunteered to mentor students who were planning to compete in our state competition. Her response was enlightening as she noted the positive effects not only for the students, but for herself.
“Working with high school students is exciting. They keep you on your feet, they really test your knowledge and communication methods. A surprising by-product is that mentoring helped me polish my training skills. From personal experience as a ProStart student on a team that had a mentor, I know firsthand that the more students are engaged with professionals the better they can understand the demands of a professional schedule, what working in a kitchen is like and the skills they will be expected to have when they leave the classroom and enter the restaurant industry. Working together can forge a meaningful bond that can create rewarding lifelong relationships,” Irina explained. “Recently, a student that I mentored three years ago called and asked for a reference. It was great to hear he was still cooking and fact that I was still on his radar and he wanted my opinion and support!”
BUILDING SKILLS “Hire for attitude, train for skill” is a popular adage. Perhaps it feels more challenging when the pipeline feels dry, however. Going to the source, worksource agencies that is, may help. Kristin and Drew Roslund, owners of the Overleaf Lodge & Spa, took a leadership role by engaging with ORLAEF and the Oregon Coast Visitors Association to create a pilot training program targeting to unemployed residents in Lincoln County. The program uses internationally accredited skill-building curriculum to help participants better qualify and prepare for work in the hospitality industry. Scholarships, funded through Travel Oregon, also pay for participants to earn their certifications as Certified Guest Service Professionals, one of our industry’s most important skills.
In Portland, Travel Portland is also seeking to take an active role in helping stakeholders with workforce challenges and invited ORLAEF to exhibit at a recent Opportunity Youth Job Fair. One result, thanks to funding from Worksystems, Inc. in Portland, is that 200 youth took ORLA’s food handler course and are now applying for jobs! Worksystems is also now committing to using the Guest Service Gold Tourism training curriculum for the hundreds of youth who are seeking skills and jobs that it serves.
INCREASING EMPLOYEE COMMITMENT Decreasing turnover can have a big effect on the bottom line. ORLAEF was curious about best practices being used in Oregon that were having a positive effective on employee satisfaction which tracked to increased commitment and retention. We commissioned OSU Hospitality Management Department’s research team to do a study to identify and interview companies that we're seeing results from innovative programs. These practices, captured via video interviews, are encouraging. Employee engagement tactics range from offering soft-side benefits, to supporting associate wellness programs, to nurturing a family-friendly company culture, to sharing leadership roles. Become inspired by viewing these videos at OregonRLA.org/workforcepractices.
Albert Einstein is widely known with the quote,“The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again but expecting different results.” Tired of the hearing the same workforce “lack of” words? Engage with ORLA’s Education Foundation as we seek to support innovative solutions to our industry’s workforce challenges. | Wendy Popkin
Wendy Popkin is the Executive Director for ORLA’s Education Foundation (ORLAEF), a nonprofit foundation dedicated to supporting the educational and training needs of the hospitality industry. Wendy is a 30+-year career veteran who describes herself as “fanatically enthusiastic about helping others enjoy the same type of fabulous career opportunities I have enjoyed in the hospitality industry.” www.OregonRLA.org/EdFoundation
Discussions on Cannabis Tourism and Licensing Fee Increase
On a quarterly basis, ORLA has the opportunity to participate in meetings with the Oregon Liquor Control Commission (OLCC) to address issues impacting our industry. As members often have questions relating to licensing and other liquor or marijuana issues, ORLA appreciates the open lines of communications with the agency and the Commissioners.
At a recent OLCC Commissioners meeting, ORLA presented on cannabis tourism and the challenges our industry faces with OLCC licensees not being able to host cannabis events on site without giving up their OLCC license. Executive Director Steve Marks clarified that OLCC licensees are not able to hold cannabis-related events as the agency has defined a licensee’s entire property as being part of the license.
ORLA asked for consideration and discussion around the issue as cannabis-related tourism is a growing segment of the industry. Commissioner Matt Maletis reinforced the opportunities available to cannabis-related tourism and expressed his appreciation for ORLA addressing the issue.
At the request of Governor Kate Brown for the Oregon Liquor Control Commission (OLCC), SB 248 was introduced which would increase all licensing fees including those for breweries, wineries, distilleries and retailers. The increase is needed to upgrade technology and software for the agency to help increase efficiency and productivity. ORLA has been in discussions with the OLCC about the increase and received assurances from the agency that as part of the increased fees, OLCC would make a change in administrative rules to allow for two-year licenses.
The two-year license is something ORLA has heard members are interested in to help them save time and money by only having to apply for renewals every two years instead of annually.
There would be exceptions to the two-year license offering which may include first-time applicants and applicants who have had a violation in the last 12 months. Details are still being worked on at this time and ORLA will share updates with members as they come.
If you have questions relating to OLCC licensing or other issues, feel free to reach out to me at Astley@OregonRLA.org. | Greg Astley