Taran Patel, A-1 Hospitality Group, Honored by Oregon Restaurant & Lodging Association
[Wilsonville, OR] – The Oregon Restaurant & Lodging Association (ORLA) will honor five members of Oregon’s foodservice and lodging industry with the prestigious statewide Oregon Hospitality Awards later this month. Taran Patel, Managing Principal for A-1 Hospitality Group and AAHOA Northwest Regional Director, was named the 2023 Lodging Operator of the Year for his outstanding contributions and dedication to serving the hospitality industry and his communities.
“Oregon’s hospitality industry is filled with remarkable, passionate people who go above and beyond on a daily basis because they love what they do,” said Jason Brandt, President and CEO of the Oregon Restaurant & Lodging Association. “These recipients represent not only some of our industry’s most dedicated leaders and advocates, but also the exemplary service that sets the high standard for the entire industry to achieve.”
Taran grew up in the hospitality industry, watching his parents grow their business from a 36-room independent motel to a premier hotel property management company with 12 properties in their portfolio. Driven by the American Dream, he learned the meaning of hard work from a young age following in the footsteps of his mentor and father, Vijay. After completing his MBA in 2015, Taran started working in operations and development where he helped cultivate the supportive company culture created by his parents. As Managing Principal, Taran continues to demonstrate strong character and leadership.
Under his guidance, A-1 Hospitality Group’s hotels not only provided needed support to their communities during the pandemic, but they also continued to stay open to ensure their team members were able to keep their jobs and support their families through difficult times. Taran is recognized by his colleagues as a passionate, hard-working, and engaged industry operator. His contributions extend beyond A-1 Hospitality, as he dedicates his time to several industry boards and organizations. He has not only served as an AAHOA Northwest Ambassador for several years but has now been elected to serve on the Board for the Association as the AAHOA Northwest Regional Director. Taran has also been actively involved with the local Visitor & Convention Bureau, Oregon Restaurant & Lodging Association, and Washington Hospitality Association where he currently serves on the Board of Directors.
"Congratulations to Taran Patel on being recognized as ORLA’s 2023 Lodging Operator of the Year, which is a strong testament to Taran’s unwavering commitment to excellence, dedication to guest satisfaction, and visionary leadership,” said AAHOA President & CEO Laura Lee Blake. “We thank our partners at ORLA for recognizing our industry’s top leaders in Oregon for their groundbreaking achievements in, and dedication to, our industry.”
Nominated by their peers, these award recipients will be recognized in front of an expected 250 delegates at the ORLA Hospitality Conference, September 30–October 2, held at the Ashland Hills Hotel & Suites in Ashland, Oregon. Joining Taran on the list of award recipients is Demetrio De La O Rendon (Lakeshore Inn) as Employee of the Year, Crystal Brenneman (Dixie Tavern) as Team Leader of the Year, and Lisa Schroeder (Mother’s Bistro & Bar) as Restaurateur of the Year. Risk Strategies Company | Fournier Group will also be recognized as ORLA’s Allied Partner of the Year.
For more information on the ORLA Hospitality Awards, visit www.Oregonrla.org/nominate. To learn more or register for the Hospitality Conference, visit www.ORLAHospitalityConference.com.
ORLA is the leading business association for the foodservice and lodging industry in Oregon. A not-for-profit trade organization, ORLA represents over 3,000 member units and advocates for over 10,000 foodservice locations and over 2,400 lodging establishments in Oregon. The hospitality industry is the second largest business sector behind healthcare. In 2022, our industry provided over 197,000 jobs to working Oregonians and brought in over $10.9 billion in annual sales for Oregon.
AAHOA is the largest hotel owners association in the nation, with member-owned properties representing a significant part of the U.S. economy. AAHOA's 20,000 members own 60% of the hotels in the United States and are responsible for 1.7% of the nation’s GDP. More than one million employees work at AAHOA member-owned hotels, earning $47 billion annually, and member-owned hotels support 4.2 million U.S. jobs across all sectors of the hospitality industry. AAHOA's mission is to advance and protect the business interests of hotel owners through advocacy, industry leadership, professional development, member benefits, and community engagement.
Restaurant and Hotel Industry Members Honored by Oregon Restaurant & Lodging Association
[Wilsonville, OR] – The Oregon Restaurant & Lodging Association (ORLA) will honor five members of Oregon’s foodservice and lodging industry as Oregon Hospitality Award recipients later this month. Demetrio De La O Rendon (Lakeshore Inn) was named Employee of the Year, Crystal Brenneman (Dixie Tavern) was named Team Leader of the Year, Taran Patel (A-1 Hospitality) was named Lodging Operator of the Year, and Lisa Schroeder (Mother’s Bistro & Bar) was named Restaurateur of the Year. Risk Strategies Company | Fournier Group is recognized as ORLA’s Allied Partner of the Year.
“Oregon’s hospitality industry is filled with remarkable, passionate people who go above and beyond on a daily basis because they love what they do,” says Jason Brandt, President and CEO of the Oregon Restaurant & Lodging Association. “These recipients represent not only some of our industry’s most dedicated team members and advocates, but also the exemplary service that sets the high standard for the entire industry to achieve.”
Nominated by their peers, these award recipients will be recognized in front of an expected 250 delegates at the ORLA Hospitality Conference September 30–October 2, held at the Ashland Hills Hotel & Suites in Ashland, Oregon. These statewide awards recognize the outstanding contributions of individuals and businesses serving the hospitality industry and communities throughout the state.
Demetrio De La O Rendon has worked as the maintenance engineer for the Lakeshore Inn in Lake Oswego the past seven years. His reputation among coworkers as a hardworking and caring employee also transcends to guests who continually praise his work and compliment his helpful nature. There isn’t a task asked of him he isn’t willing to do and he is always first to offer assistance to coworkers and guests whenever he sees a need. With a humble nature, Demetrio is a “favorite coworker” among the entire team and always wears a smile on his face no matter how tough the day’s challenges have been.
As manager of the Dixie Tavern in Portland, Crystal Brenneman epitomizes what a dynamic team leader represents with her dedicated service-mentality, passion for hospitality, and guidance as a role model for her colleagues. Before she stepped into her manager role, Crystal learned every position at the tavern, including maintenance. Referred to as “the backbone of Dixie,” Crystal enjoys serving as the unofficial ambassador for the tavern, always making guests feel welcome with her patience and positive energy. Coworkers are galvanized with her daily mantra at the start of every shift, “It’s going to be a great night!”
Taran Patel grew up in the hospitality industry, watching his parents grow their business from a 36-room motel to a premier hotel property management company with 12 properties in A-1 Hospitality Group's portfolio. Driven by the American Dream, he learned the meaning of hard work from a young age. Starting in operations and development, he helped cultivate the supportive company culture created by his parents. Under Taran’s guidance, the hotels not only provided needed support to their communities during the pandemic, they continued to stay open to ensure their team members were able to keep their jobs and support their families through difficult times. He is recognized by his colleagues as a hard-working and engaged industry operator. Taran's contributions extend beyond A-1 Hospitality, as he dedicates his time to several industry boards and organizations, including serving as NW Regional Director on the Board for the Asian American Hotel Owner Association (AAHOA).
Executive Chef and Owner of Mother’s Bistro & Bar, Lisa Schroeder has created a Portland institution, providing “better-than-authentic” renditions of traditional home-cooked dishes from recipes derived from real mothers in their own homes. Inspired by her own mother who was a hard-working single mom (and amazing in the kitchen), Lisa’s tenacity and passion for “Mother Food” helped her dream of opening Mother’s Bistro become reality. Lisa also extends a dedicated commitment to help her community by actively participating in charitable causes and civic engagement. Lisa was recently recognized as Oregon Small Business Person of the Year by the U.S. Small Business Administration.
Oregon’s hospitality industry is fortunate to have dedicated purveyors focused on providing the best products and services to help operators run a successful business. Risk Strategies Company | Fournier Group is one of those companies that stands out for their exceptional service and innovative contributions to the industry. Through a unique partnership, the association was able to launch the Hospitality Insurance Program (HIP), helping business owners navigate the insurance landscape and providing tools to help them take better control of their business.
For more information on the ORLA Hospitality Awards, visit www.Oregonrla.org/nominate. To learn more or register for the Hospitality Conference, visit www.ORLAHospitalityConference.com.
The Oregon Restaurant & Lodging Association (ORLA) is the leading business association for the foodservice and lodging industry in Oregon. A not-for-profit trade organization, ORLA represents over 3,000 member units and advocates for over 10,000 foodservice locations and over 2,400 lodging establishments in Oregon. The hospitality industry is the second largest business sector behind healthcare. In 2022, our industry provided over 197,000 jobs to working Oregonians and brought in over $10.9 billion in annual sales for Oregon.
Small businesses across the country need thriving associations with competent professional staff who serve as intelligence officers for their respective industries. When the Oregon Restaurant & Lodging Association (ORLA) first came into existence back in 1932 (the two associations merged in 2010), it was clear a unified voice was needed to represent the needs of hospitality businesses across the state. Far too often, elected officials who in many cases serve in a volunteer civic capacity, have little time to become experts on all policy decisions crossing their desk. Imagine a world where elected officials had no organized industry voice to turn to while making policy decisions for their constituents. That world would be rife with unintended consequences and short-sighted decision making.
Although our mission has evolved subtly over time, ORLA remains focused on improving, protecting, and promoting over 10,000 foodservice and 2,500 lodging locations across Oregon. These operations remain in business even after Covid unleashed its ferocious blow on an industry reliant on in person experiences. When considering both openings and closures, we estimate Oregon lost a net of 750 restaurants because of the pandemic, a number much smaller than originally anticipated but still devastating to economic ecosystems across the state.
Of all our existing locations, ORLA currently has a little over 3,000 who have chosen voluntarily to join their statewide association in support of our mission. It is clear the secret is out on Oregon as our population continues to grow with its geographic position between California and Washington. The state benefits greatly from its high qualify of life and diverse topography. You would be hard pressed to find a state with mountain ranges, a world-famous coastline, high deserts, and vast river and lake systems highlighted by the Columbia Gorge. As the state’s population grows so do the opportunities for additional foodservice and lodging pursuits. We are fortunate to have a state association which continues to slowly grow in its size and scope with 16 full time professional staff dedicated to the work.
The hospitality industry here in Oregon is at a crossroads with a growing market of independent small operators determined to provide choice to their guests. The explosion of choice feels like the options we now have when turning on a television. Instead of a handful of channels, we have immediate access to hundreds in addition to what seems like a limitless supply of streaming content. The same dynamics are at play in the hospitality industry. On one hand, lodging brands have greatly expanded to provide more choice for the traveler. On the restaurant side, we continue to see innovative business models emerge including app-based ordering, ping pong bars, and a proliferation of food pods and mobile units. The world looks different when compared to the norm of decades past when the traditional family restaurant dinner was served by the restaurant owners and their staff.
Online travel agencies (think Expedia and Booking.com) as well as third-party delivery services (like DoorDash and Uber Eats) are creating a highly advanced and complicated environment. Restaurant and lodging establishments have innumerable opportunities to partner with vendors and suppliers in their ultimate goal to make money and provide jobs to others. If an operator is too flippant and not committed to detail, it would be easy to launch a hospitality business without a means for sustaining it. Commission rates for Online Travel Agencies can be considerable for lodging operators and restaurants continue to reel from increasing labor and food costs on top of their own commission payments to third party delivery companies. Too few Americans realize that 95 cents of every dollar they spend in a restaurant goes back into the food, the people, and the place. When you look at the hospitality industry through that lens, one could argue it is one of the more altruistic pursuits an entrepreneur can undertake. Most industries would balk and run the other direction if presented with an average margin of 5% for all their hard work.
The challenges facing operators are real and its our job at ORLA to bring industry transparency to our many elected official relationships. We rely on engaged members to work with our staff to build meaningful, authentic connections with the individuals we elect to office. Without this interplay, there is no connective tissue between the operator struggling to hold onto their limited margin, and the politician looking to raise a new batch of money for their next passion project. Our primary focus at ORLA is building strong working relationships with decision makers in government. By bringing authenticity to the table we are able to lead initiatives to assist our industry in their recovery whether that includes launching legislation allowing a new element to restaurant business models like to-go cocktails, or navigating the legislative system to enact transformative unemployment insurance tax reform for employers. If industry operators need someone to have their back, its our job to be there.
Our expectations for the future center on continued growth and diversification. The Oregon Employment Department projects our industry to be the fastest growing sector through the year 2030. Business models continue to change as operators re-evaluate the labor costs they can afford. With generational change comes the emergence of new trends including the new norm where a customer may not have a server but can still leave a restaurant feeling fulfilled by the high-end food quality and overall experience. Lodging operations are also reinventing themselves with more customized attention to the facilitation of experiences as opposed to the transaction of connecting a guest with a room. We are also starting to see generational change relating to housekeeping services in the wake of climate change with many brands reevaluating protocols for housekeeping services based on the changing perspectives of guests.
Suffice to say a complicated world and a growing array of hospitality options has created an environment whereby the association may now be more relevant than it ever has been. It is our job at ORLA to keep our ear to the ground and stay on top of industry trends and intelligence. It is common for us to share knowledge directly impacting the way an operator makes decisions for their business. It is a true honor to be able to make a real difference in the lives of others. In the association world we have a responsibility to embrace the independence and choice being offered by our members while empowering them to take full advantage of the tools and resources made available to them through their industry associations.
Jason Brandt is the President & CEO of the Oregon Restaurant & Lodging Association. Brandt has served in the role since August 2015 and came to ORLA after serving as the CEO for the Salem Area Chamber of Commerce. Brandt was recently recognized as a recipient of a 40 Under 40 award by the Portland Business Journal for his work representing the hospitality industry during the Coronavirus pandemic.
This editorial was published in Business View Magazine August 2023 (Volume 10, Issue 8)
Legislative Session Recap / AAHOA Support for the Foundation / Fire Response Guide
Today is National Hotel Employee Day! Not just today, but every day throughout the year, we express our thanks to all hotel employees – they are the heart of the lodging industry! This year, National Hotel Employee Day comes as hotels across the nation are working to quickly fill nearly 100,000 open hotel jobs. There has never been a better time to join the hospitality industry – with hotels offering current and prospective employees near-historic wages, better benefits, and more flexibility than ever before. Share more about hotel career opportunities in your communities by visiting thehotelindustry.com.
2023 Oregon Legislative Session Recap – The Oregon Legislature adjourned its 160-day session on June 25, 2023. Throughout the session, ORLA’s Government Affairs team focused on several priority bills relating to Oregon's restaurant and lodging industry. View ORLA's recap on the many of the bills we engaged or monitored during the 2023 Oregon Legislative Session.
AAHOA Swings for Foundation Support – The Asian American Hotel Owners Association (AAHOA) held its Northwest Region Charity Golf Tournament on August 14 at the Reserve Vineyard & Golf Club. Since its inception, AAHOA has engaged with local communities by supporting charitable organizations that provide services ranging from education to humanitarian efforts. The Oregon Hospitality Foundation (OHF) was fortunate to be one of the four recipients of the funds raised from this annual tournament this year. We are grateful for the partnership with AAHOA and their shared focus on industry workforce development programs. To learn more about OHF activities, visit OregonRLA.org/workforce blog.
ORLA Editorial in National Publication – Earlier this year, Business View Magazine, on online source of news for executives, entrepreneurs, small business owners, and franchisees reached out to ORLA with a request to contribute to their restaurant series. This was an opportunity for ORLA to highlight some of the demographics of our industry, key topics, new developments in the industry, and our role as business advocates. Read ORLA CEO Jason Brandt’s editorial here on page 121: Associations of the Future Must Embrace Independence and Choice.
Best Practice Guide for Fire Response – Always Ready: Fire is the latest in a series of restaurant-specific guides designed to help restaurant owners and operators evaluate their risks and create a fire response plan. This new resource produced by the National Restaurant Association pulls best practices from official sources and restaurant operators including content on risk assessment, insurance, prevention, and communications. Download the guide from the Resource Library available at Restaurant.org.
Chow Down for Vets! The Portland Kitchen Cabinet is working with Returning Veterans organization again to help engage restaurant operators to participate in the Chow Down for Vets event on November 11. Restaurants will agree to donate a portion of their sales to support local veterans!