Jack Crawford, CEO of the Ground Round Independent Owners Cooperative, has begun his one-year tenure as chairman of the National Restaurant Association, the industry’s leading lobbying group.
One of Crawford’s first tasks in the new role will be testifying before Congress on the need to change the definition of full-time employee in the Affordable Care Act, according to the NRA. A full timer is currently defined as someone who works at least 30 hours a week. The restaurant industry and other fields that rely on part-time employees are pressing lawmakers to accept the conventional standard of 40 hours per week.
A bill to change the threshold to 40 hour is expected to be considered in Congress starting this week.
Crawford comes to his new role after 10 years on the NRA’s board. He has been in the restaurant business for 33 years, many of them spent within the Ground Round system. Units run by the chain’s franchisor were abruptly shut on Valentine’s Day of 2004. Some 30 franchisees opted to continue operating their restaurants as Ground Rounds and formed their own company to provide support services. They chose Crawford from within their ranks to head the cooperative. The chain has begun opening stores again.
The chairmanship of the NRA is a rotating position that’s filled by a vote of the board. Crawford succeeds Ken Conrad, chairman of nine-unit Libby Hill Seafood Restaurants.
Dawn Sweeney continues to manage day-to-day operations of the NRA as president and CEO.
Crawford is one of the few restaurant franchisees to have been tapped for the chairmanship.