Thank you for your interest in becoming a judge for the ORLAEF ProStart Invitational, sponsored by Sysco, on Monday, March 2, 2020, at the Salem Convention Center. We appreciate your support.
The event work is demanding but inspiring. Many judges and volunteers return every year because it is so exciting to be part of the day’s energy, and to witness the results of our students four months of hard work.
Please complete the form below and type in N/A where answers do not apply. Thank you, we appreciate your support!
Wendy Popkin, Executive Director, ORLA Education Foundation | WPopkin@OregonRLA.org | 971-224-1505
Editorial from ORLA's President & CEO Jason Brandt
[as published in the Portland Business Journal, Oct. 4, 2019]
According to a new Gallup poll, Americans say the restaurant industry is the most respected in America. And those of us working for both restaurants and lodging establishments at Oregon’s statewide association are taking a moment to celebrate this milestone.
We hope you join us in celebrating all the reasons why restaurants are vital to the infrastructure of our local economies in Oregon while also learning more about the industry’s expansive business models. For our counterparts operating full-service models with waiters and waitresses in Oregon, the path to sustainability is proving harder to figure out. Nationally, an average of 95 cents of every dollar customers spend goes back into the food, the people, and the place. Operators across our state are working hard to figure out how to maintain that level of reinvestment into the future as the realities of increased regulation take their toll.
As the leader of the Oregon Restaurant & Lodging Association (ORLA), you won’t hear me crying wolf. Will there be massive closures of restaurants? No, but will there be an increase in ownership transitions and restaurants on the market for purchase? Yes. Will there be a hoard of server job losses as restaurants look at different business models? Probably not but we are seeing more counter service restaurants that do eliminate the existence of server positions and we expect those trends to continue. Are we seeing growing anxiety amongst our mom and pop restaurant establishments across this state as they attempt to absorb labor increases, additional human resource requirements for mandatory savings accounts for employees, paid sick leave, paid family leave, and the new corporate activity tax? Without question.
If we all take a step back collectively there is so much to celebrate relating to the role of restaurants in our society. Where else can an employee start as a dishwasher and rise to an executive position within a company? We have those stories. Where else can those working hard to get their lives back on track after serving time find jobs that pay a living wage? What industry employs more minorities and women managers than any other industry? You guessed it – that would be restaurants.
As we celebrate the findings of Gallup’s recent poll we also see it as an opportunity to make sure Oregonians better understand the pressures and anxieties facing restaurant operators in Oregon today. And if we love restaurants and their roles as cornerstones of our communities we hope you will join us in protecting their viability across the rural and urban landscapes of our great state.
Too often, our industry deals with headlines focusing on starting wage positions within restaurants and misperceptions about compensation opportunities in the industry. The world of restaurants is a land of opportunity for advancement and industry certifications for restaurant front line staff, supervisors, and managers are available to assist entry level employees with opportunities to advance.
One in three Americans had their first job in a restaurant and in today’s digital age what better way for our youth to develop crucial interpersonal skills than by getting their start professionally in a restaurant setting. Those of us at ORLA would argue there has never been a more important time for the role of restaurants in the lives of our young people.
As our industry continues the process of adjusting to new requirements for operating a business in Oregon we ask you to join us in celebrating the good that comes from embracing restaurant businesses across our state and we thank you for taking some time to better understand their triumphs and challenges. Remember, on average, 95 cents of every dollar spent goes back into the restaurant experience. We look forward to seeing you again soon for your next celebration. | Jason Brandt, President & CEO, Oregon Restaurant & Lodging Association
Top Restaurant and Hotel Industry Members Recognized by Oregon Restaurant & Lodging Association
Four members of Oregon’s food and lodging industry were recognized as 2019 Oregon Hospitality Industry Award recipients by the Oregon Restaurant & Lodging Association (ORLA) during the annual Conference in September. Chuck Hinman, Best Western Plus Hood River Inn was named Lodging Operator of the Year; Kurt Huffman, ChefStable (Portland) was named Restaurateur of the Year; Dorothy Petersen, Papa Murphy’s (Junction City) was named Employee of the Year; and Togather Restaurant Consulting was named Allied Partner of the Year.
The recipients of these awards were recognized among their peers and over 330 delegates of ORLA’s Hospitality Conference on September 17, 2019, at the Seaside Convention Center in Seaside, Oregon.
“Oregon’s hospitality industry is teeming with individuals who contribute significantly to the health of the trade,” says Jason Brandt, president and CEO of the Oregon Restaurant & Lodging Association. “These winners 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.”
Lodging Operator of the Year: Chuck Hinman, general manager of the Best Western Plus Hood River Inn, has worked in the hospitality industry his entire career, primarily in hotel management in the Seattle, Portland and Hood River markets. He’s managed the Hood River Inn since early 1990, shortly after it was acquired by owner group D.M. Stevenson Ranch. Chuck has been a tireless advocate of the hospitality industry, engaging on issues impacting businesses and his local community. He served several years on ORLA’s Board of Directors and was Chair of the lodging association during the merger with the restaurant association in 2010.
Restaurateur of the Year: Kurt Huffman, owner of ChefStable, is well-known in the Portland restaurant scene as a passionate advocate for the industry. Under his vision and leadership, ChefStable, a hospitality management group and consultancy, has opened over forty restaurants in Portland, San Francisco, Las Vegas and beyond over the last ten years. ChefStable partners with talented and passionate chefs to design, build and operate restaurants, bars, catering and more–taking care of all of the operational details so its partners can focus on food and service. Kurt also provides leadership for the Portland Kitchen Cabinet, an ORLA-sponsored civic engagement program committed to growing and preserving opportunity in the restaurant industry.
Employee of the Year: Dorothy Petersen has been with Papa Murphy’s for close to 20 years and has become a fixture in the Junction City community. Dorothy knows almost every customer and goes out of her way to make every guest welcome and appreciated. She even inspired a young frequent customer to write a school paper on how he wanted to “be like Dorothy.” As store manager, she supervises a team of mostly young people, and often sees her role as a “mom” to them. Dorothy teaches the young employees more than just how to make a pizza, but also some key interpersonal and life skills.
Allied Partner of the Year: Togather Restaurant Consulting helps business owners with start up, turn around, staff training, menu creation, branding and marketing, and analysis and evaluations. Seth Gruschow, founder and owner of Togather, leads a dynamic team of professionals in working with influencers and innovators to create a networking web of local and reliable businesses. Togather serves as a tremendous resource to the industry by sharing their expertise at events and sponsoring programs like the ORLAEF ProStart Invitational.
For more information on the Hospitality Industry Awards, visit OregonRLA.org/Awards.
Workforce Programs are a Brewin’
ORLA’s Education Foundation Savors Progress at a Steady Pace
“The way of progress is neither swift, nor easy” - Marie Curie
The hospitality industry may be behind others, such as healthcare, in terms of anticipating workforce challenges and creating a plan to address them. However, with growing partner engagement, we are starting to see small but steady progress this year!
One notable achievement has been the ability of ORLAEF to hire a part-time ProStart and Foodservice Workforce Liaison. Irina Bakun’s focus is to assist culinary program teachers integrate foodservice/hospitality career awareness, experiences, and connections routinely into their teaching and activities. ORLAEF’s goal is to utilize Irina’s time and experience to work directly with districts, their teachers, and industry partners to help create clear pathways and opportunities for career exploration and employment. Funding came from a grant from the National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation.
Other encouraging progress includes;
ORLAEF’s partnership with Worksystems resulted in a pilot to use our industry’s guest service training curriculum with nine of its social service workforce training partners. The agency’s clients will learn valuable skills AND more about jobs in our industry.
Thanks to collaboration with the Oregon Coast Visitor’s Association, we have created a strong partnership with Northwest Oregon Works. The workforce development agency helped fund in-person training for prospective employees using AHLEI’s stackable credentials as well as current employees looking to upskill and advance their careers. Combined with a fall training effort, 74 industry certifications were earned.
ORLAEF is working in a pilot program with the area’s school districts, who support seven high school culinary training programs. Our joint goal is to build closer ties with local industry members and to create a model for productive and sustainable industry involvement with classes that focus on culinary and hospitality training.
We commissioned a best practices study with researchers from OSU’s Hospitality Management Program. Several Oregon businesses have implemented creative programs that have enhanced their employee retention. Watch the videos at Oregonrla.org/workforcepractices.
GUEST SERVICE GOLD ®
Since the training initiative’s launch, the course has been used by 1,833 individuals and resulted in 1,746 participants earning their Certified Guest Service Professional designation. To learn more about the course go to OregonGuestService.com.
The leadership input and support from key partners who have contributed significant in-kind and cash resources has helped extend our reach via the programs above and also includes new industry training with food waste reduction. We are grateful to sponsors Travel Oregon, Sysco Portland, Vesta Hospitality, The Salem Convention Center, Metro, Curtis Restaurant Equipment, The Old Spaghetti Factory , and The Nines for their in-kind and monetary support as well as individual donors who have generously contributed monies.
Please consider helping us continue our work by becoming a sponsor, donating, and/or becoming involved with our school programs. | Wendy Popkin, ORLEF
“Progress means getting nearer to the place you want to be.” ― C.S. Lewis
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.” Oregonrla.org/EdFoundation