Restaurants' worst choice for president

Photo Illustration by Restaurant Business

Bernie Sanders, Donald Trump, Cory Booker, William Weld, Elizabeth Warren—forget those mooks. The person you want in the Oval Office come 2021 is right in front of you. Yes, Peter J. Romeo—the Peter J. Romeo—is hereby declaring his candidacy for president of the United States!

What qualifications might I have for the world’s most demanding job? Absolutely none, but look at how beautifully that’s worked for my would-be predecessor. And I have started using my middle initial, which sounds very presidential. I’ve even nailed the politician’s gift of speaking in the third person, which also qualifies me to be a rapper or NBA star.

Plus, I have an affiliation—the Pro Pizza Party, whose membership is expected to soar any minute from a solid base of one—and a platform, the New Raw Deal. Consider just one plank: Instead of sending people to prison, offenders will be required to clean out a highly used dog run. The worse the crime, the larger the dog pack and the smaller the shovel. Capital criminals will get a seafood fork.

I pledge here and now in the first of many, many empty campaign promises that I won’t forget the people who need me. That’d be you.

One of my beats here at Restaurant Business is government affairs, and I can attest the restaurant industry is in deep dog-run detritus. In the last few months, I’ve written stories about restaurant employees’ hairstyles being a protected right, quick-service restaurants having to justify firings to authorities, public restaurant companies being required to have at least two women on their boards as of 2020, cashless restaurants being outlawed, the tip credit being scuttled nationally, everyone paying a wage of $15 and CBD being both legal and illegal, depending on whom you ask. 

Sure, there’s been some good news in the mix. The 80/20 rule for determining servers’ pay is kaput. New overtime rules won’t wallop the industry as much as had been feared. What experts say was a life-and-death threat to franchising, the government’s interpretation of a legal construct called the joint employer standard, is being tempered. It pains me to say it, being a sane person and all, but President Trump has been largely good for the restaurant business, allaying some of the industry’s big concerns on a federal level.

Yet many of the more loathed issues haven’t gone away. They’ve just slipped down to the state and local level. Instead of fighting a federal $15 wage or an end to the tip credit on a national basis, where the industry’s full collective might could be mustered, the battle has splintered into fierce local skirmishes that need to be waged simultaneously. It’s a much broader challenge, especially with difficult business conditions keeping rank-and-file operators focused on other matters. Like keeping the doors open.

Which brings us back to my campaign. A vote for me would be a vote for a villain you can hate, vilify and by all means resist. You have my solemn promise I’ll be someone you’ll push hard to keep from doing ill. 

But if you just can’t pull the lever for someone who has less aptitude than an asparagus spear, I hope you’ll give serious consideration to whomever does get your vote. The presidential campaigns have devolved into pro wrestling bouts, but the outcome of November 2020 will have a profound effect on your business and your community. It’s something that’s as serious and important as your next key hire.

Now’s the time to determine who would be the right person for the job. Otherwise you’ll end up with someone like me. 

Did I mention my plan to outlaw kale?


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