What can restaurants expect from government in 2024?

Working Lunch: It promises to be an historic year politically, with plenty of pandering by candidates and action on a slew of issues, from service fees to credit-card processing charges.

A week into the new year, government figures are already taking up a number of issues that could affect restaurants, from service fees to credit card charges to curbing violent crime in small businesses.  It’s an early taste of what the industry can expect in a year that’s likely to be unprecedented politically,  according to this week’s installment of the Working Lunch government affairs podcast.

Co-hosts Joe Kefauver and Franklin Coley, principals in the lobbying firm Align Public Strategies, foresee a stretch of politicking and governmental action unlike anything the nation has seen before.

Not the least of the reasons is what promises to be a historic presidential election. Not since Grover Cleveland’s second run for the job has America had to choose between an incumbent and the person who preceded him in the job. Nor has the choice ever before included someone who’s facing criminal charges.

“We have all these unprecedented dynamics in play,” said Coley. “This is one for the history books.”

Of particular concern to the business is growing opposition from conservatives to “wokeism, ESG, DEI, that whole bundle of issues,” commented Coley. “It started here in Florida, but we’re going to see other states follow its lead.”

The movement reads that alphabet soup of causes as unbraked liberalism hidden behind highfalutin labels. It comes as many restaurant companies are responding to public demand that they address social and environmental issues while striving for profits.

“[Restaurant] brands are going to have to be on their toes,” said Coley. “It’s only going to escalate.”

During the broadcast, the pair also speak with Sean Kennedy, EVP of public affairs for the National Restaurant Association, about the flurry of government activity that cut into his holiday celebrations. In recent days, he and other association representatives have met with the Federal Trade Commission about the agency’s proposed regulation of service fees, while keeping in touch in the Senate with proponents of tempering credit-card processing charges.

It’s also looking to have a representative participate in upcoming Capitol Hill hearings on how small businesses can be protected from violence.

Press Play for a fuller preview of what’s ahead politically for the business.

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