Special Reports

100 years of supporting restaurants

As we reflect on the industry’s past, the National Restaurant Association is laying the groundwork for a bright future.
reflecting on the industry's past
Photographs: Shutterstock

This year marks a milestone for the National Restaurant Association: our centennial anniversary.

We have chosen the theme “Setting the Table for Success” for our centennial year. And it is in this spirit that we are making critical decisions about how we position the industry and advocate for its ongoing success in the fast-paced, quickly changing environment in which we operate. Our industry's collective success and rapid growth over the last century are a tribute to the strength, innovation, and resilience of our workforce. Ours is an industry of trailblazers, defined by our spirit of service and hospitality.

The Association formed after a group of restaurateurs in Kansas City, Mo., organized an egg boycott to protest rapidly rising prices by egg brokers. That single action launched a national movement that would come to protect the foodservice industry from the negative impacts of Prohibition, the Great Depression, World War II rationing and other external influences.

Over the last 100 years, the restaurant industry has grown to become the nation’s second-largest private-sector employer with more than 15 million workers serving more than 170 million customers every day. Our early projections indicate that restaurant and foodservice sales in 2019 will exceed $850 billion. That is up $284 billion from 10 years ago and represents a $492 billion increase since 1999. This is encouraging news for the industry because it means we are on a continued growth trajectory. It also means that we have to remain aggressive in our workforce development activities.

Over the next 10 years, we will need more than 640,000 16- to-24-year-olds to join our industry. This age group will represent approximately 40% of the 1.6 million people our industry is projected to add by 2028. To achieve this goal, the National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation continues to lead the charge in attracting and preparing people from all backgrounds for meaningful jobs and careers in our industry. Last year, in partnership with the White House, we pledged—through our various programs and initiatives—to train 370,000 people over the next five years.

Also at the federal level, we are working with Congress and the administration on several key legislative and regulatory issues, including correcting the qualified income property deduction drafting error in the tax law, supporting bipartisan and comprehensive immigration reform including a solution for Deferred Action on Childhood Arrivals, and fighting for sensible wage laws. At the state and local levels, we are paying close attention to any potential actions around wages, paid leave, scheduling, soda taxes, expanded menu labeling and environmental issues such as packaging and straw mandates.

We know that to continue serving our members’ needs, we must confront regulatory challenges while also addressing one of our industry’s biggest issues: workforce development. As we prepare for the next 100 years, the National Restaurant Association remains committed to providing the best tools, knowledge and resources for our industry’s continued success. Through initiatives such as ServSafe, ServSafe Workplace, ServSuccess, ProStart and our apprenticeship program with the U.S. Department of Labor, we are setting the table for success for restaurants, their employees and our Association. 

Click here for more insights and information on the Centennial.

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