Restaurant Operator Series Examines Key Issues and Solutions

Whats on Your Plate webinars address food safety, business culture, and tax breaks restoring profitability.

Mar 14, 2024 - 14:17
Mar 14, 2024 - 14:18
Restaurant Operator Series Examines Key Issues and Solutions
Restaurant Operator Series Examines Key Issues and Solutions

The National Restaurant Association, in an effort to help operators with some of the most pressing issues affecting their businesses, recently held a series of webinars on key topics, including food safety, taxes, and building a positive workplace culture. All three presentations are now available for download.

Maintaining a food safety culture 

“Maintaining and Promoting a Culture of Food Safety,” offers tips on creating and maintaining an effective food safety management system. Presented by Larry Lynch, the Association’s SVP of Certification & Operations, Patrick Guzzle, VP of Food Safety, and Jorge Hernandez, VP of Food Safety and Quality Assurance for The Wendy's Co., it began with three points on creating and maintaining a food safety culture:

  1. If you're not sure about what a food safety culture is or how to get started, start with wherever you are. Identify one food safety practice you can improve today. Reinforce it again tomorrow, and the next day and the next day. Then work on a next step.
  2. Leadership commitment is critical. Management must understand the importance of food safety and food safety training and provide the necessary time and tools to execute it in a safe manner.
  3. Adopt a systems approach to food safety that considers all aspects of an operation and how they work together to protect the business and customers. This will ensure all actions taken are legally compliant and that all food served is safe to eat.

“At Wendy’s, we like to say we’ve built a good food safety culture,” Hernandez said. “At any food business, it’s critical to create a food safety culture, and it’s likely something you already have, something you can improve, or, over time, change. Your leadership can change the safety culture, but there’s lots of things they must be aware of. 

“For example, we strive to teach our associates how to properly wash their hands,” he added. “We don’t mean it to sound didactic, but we want everyone to know it’s one of the most important things they can do. We know everyone probably knows how to wash their hands by the time they start working with us, but that’s the culture we have. We tell them about soap and warm water, when to wash, and for how long. We try to set and promote the culture from the outset, and measure and reward expectations.” Bipartisan tax deal to restore restaurant profitability Facing a higher cost of capital, a 20% increase in food costs and 30% increase in labor costs, many operators have called for badly needed tax relief.

Our second webinar, “The Groundbreaking Tax Deal for Restaurants,” explains the ins and outs of bipartisan tax legislation that, if passed, would help restaurateurs expand their businesses, take care of renovations, and purchase equipment. The legislation could also set the stage for even bigger negotiations in 2025. Aaron Frazier, the Association’s VP of Public Policy, discussed the legislation, currently awaiting a Senate vote.

According to Frazier, the 100% bonus depreciation, which allowed operators to deduct the full cost of new equipment, furnishings, and remodeling, was cut in 2017. In 2023 it was 80% and will decrease to 60% this year and 40% in 2025.

“We’re excited this bill could bring back the full 100% bonus depreciation through 2025,” Frazier said. “There's a bigger tax discussion happening that could bring it back permanently, but this would fix it for the near term. It's something that would be a win-win for everyone who needs the investment, and for the government, which would still get to have economic activity that helps gather revenue.”

Frazier noted the Association is also fighting to restore business interest expenses (depreciation and amortization) that were limited in 2022. Calling it a technical issue, he said the limitations hamper growth, serving as a tax on investment. 

“A lot of operators in 2024 need to pay off their COVID-19 aid loans, to amortize them, and they can’t,” he said. “They also want to expand and remodel after making it through some tough years, but that relies on depreciation.” Building your culture In “Building Culture Within the Workplace, ”Yum Brands! Chief Equity Inclusion and Belonging Officer James Fripp and Delaware Restaurant Association President & CEO Carrie Leishman discussed the role values, belief systems, and perception play in creating a successful restaurant business culture during 

“Relationships win the day—relationships with our customers, our employees, and vendors,” Fripp said. “When we have authentic relationships that lead to trust, we can do everything we need to do to drive long-term business success, a culture of positivity, that vibe, aura, and positive feeling where you can see how people engage each other and create authentic relationships that lead to trust.”

“Our industry is the cornerstone of the economy, our communities, and opportunity,” Leishman added. “Nine out of 10 restaurants give back at the local and state levels. During COVID-19, look at how you fed your teams, kept them employed, and kept the community going. You brought opportunity to young people and a melting pot of individuals from all walks of life. It’s important to look within your own four walls to decide who you are and how you want to be perceived by your communities and people. That will go a long way toward developing your vision and mission statement.”