CRA News

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  • 05 Jan 2016 2:58 PM | CRA Staff (Administrator)

    On January 1, 2016, Connecticut’s minimum, server and bartender wages will increase per Public Act 14-1.  The table below explains the current wages, tip credit for servers and bartenders, and the scheduled increases.  Please feel free to reach out to Nicole Griffin at with any questions. Click here for details on the 2016 Wage Increases.pdf

  • 28 Dec 2015 2:18 PM | CRA Staff (Administrator)

    Join the CRA at the Taste of Connecticut on Sunday, February 28 in Bridgeport!  Discounts available for CRA members to this restaurant expo and Sound Tigers hockey game. Click here for more details.

  • 04 Dec 2015 12:21 PM | CRA Staff (Administrator)

    Full Article 

    Subway co-founder Fred DeLuca has been honored posthumously with a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Connecticut Restaurant Association.

    The award was announced at the association’s annual “Salute to Excellence’’ Awards Dinner on Tuesday night at the Mohegan Sun Casino.

    DeLuca died on Sept. 14 after a long battle with leukemia and just weeks after the global chain of sandwich shops marked the 50-year anniversary of that first Bridgeport location.

    Subway is the world’s largest fast-food chain by number of stores, with more than 44,000 locations in 110 countries, according to its web site.

    DeLuca, 67, had been the CEO of the Milford-based company until he promoted his younger sister, Suzanne Greco, to lead the company’s day-to-day operations in June because of his health problems.

    The business began when DeLuca, who grew up in Bridgeport, opened his first sandwich shop in the city with a $1,000 loan from Dr. Peter Buck, a family friend, in 1965. Pete’s Super Submarines sold 312 sandwiches that first day, and they set a goal of opening 32 stores within 10 years.

    Buck, of Danbury, who became his business partner, and DeLuca, who lived in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., each amassed fortunes of $2.8 billion, according to Forbes.

    The shop was originally a way to help pay for DeLuca’s education, but ended up becoming a global phenomenon.

  • 03 Dec 2015 10:29 AM | CRA Staff (Administrator)
    Full Story

    Connecticut Restaurant Association Honors Local Businesses At Awards Dinner

    A fast-expanding Kansas City-style barbecue restaurant, a farm-to-table catering operation and a posh waterfront hotel eatery were among the honorees at theConnecticut Restaurant Association's (CRA) annual "Salute to Excellence" awards dinner Tuesday at Mohegan Sun.

    Bear's Smokehouse of Hartford and Windsor took home the prize for Casual Restaurant of the Year, while Max Restaurant Group's Max Catering earned honors for Caterer of the Year. Saybrook Point Inn's Fresh Salt was named Upscale Restaurant of the Year, and Dish Restaurant Group (Dish Bar & Grill and Sorella in Hartford; Dish n'Dat in Canton) was recognized as Restaurateur of the Year. 

    Individual award winners included Chef of the Year Billy Grant of Grants Restaurant, Restaurant Bricco and Bricco Trattoria in Glastonbury and West Hartford; Server of the Year Kristy Mahler of Agave Grill in Hartford and Mixologist of the Year Dimitrios Zahariadis of Highland Brass Company in Waterbury.

    The CRA also honored Ecolab as Vendor of the Year and state representative David Rutigliano of Trumbull as Friend of the Industry. A posthumous Lifetime Achievement Award went to Frederick A. DeLuca, the founder of Connecticut-based Subway. Two businesses were also inducted into the Connecticut Hospitality Hall of Fame: Flanders Fish Market & Restaurant of East Lyme and Marcia Selden Catering & Event Planning of Stamford.

    The awards were results from open voting, the CRA said in a news release. "I am thrilled to honor these superb restaurants, caterers, chefs, servers and mixologists who have demonstrated a passion for offering outstanding food and beverages," said Nicole Griffin, the association's executive director.

  • 13 Oct 2015 1:33 PM | CRA Staff (Administrator)

    Full Story

    You can get three-course meal for $20.15 during Connecticut Restaurant week

    Starting today, more than 75 restaurants will offer three-course meals off a set menu for the price of $20.15 as part of Connecticut Restaurant Week.

    “It not only brings in business, but also brings in new customers,” said Barry DePaolo, owner of Anthony Jack’s Wood Fired Grill on Center Street in Southington. “It gets you out there.”

    This year Anthony Jack’s will be offering a baked fettuccine and prosciutto, peas, and alfredo cream sauce appetizer. For dinner, guests can have wood-grilled London broil with an arugula tomato salad and crispy parmesan potatoes.

    Other restaurants will also offer appetizer, dinner and desert options as part of the event.

    Restaurants that participate are part of the Connecticut Restaurant Association, which started the event nearly seven years ago. It runs from Oct. 12 through Oct. 18.

    Restaurant Week was prompted by the 2008 recession, said Nicole Griffin, the association’s executive director.

    Griffin said it was a way to “get people out to restaurants” by offering deals and incentives.

    Local restaurants participating are 50 West Bistro in Plainville, Anthony Jack’s Wood Fired Grill in Southington, Geno’s Grille in Southington, J. Timothy’s in Plainville, and Wood-n-Tap in Southington.

    “We look forward to restaurant week,” said Niels Van Galen, executive director of 50 West Bistro on 50 W. Main St. in Plainville. “In the past we’ve done really well. It has really helped our restaurant bring some people in … to try us out.”

    Van Galen said the restaurant recently started a fall menu with heartier food.

    “I like to try to keep the menus as seasonal as possible and as local as possible,” Van Galen said.

    For an appetizer, the restaurant will offer homemade sweet potato gnocchi, with sage brown butter, crispy lardons, and shaved parmesan. For a main course, one of the three options is a roasted chicken leg stuffed with rosemary, pancetta and cheddar, with Yukon Gold whipped potatoes, kale chips, and confit red radish. For dessert there are two options including a chocolate mousse and vanilla crème brulee.

    For DePaolo at Anthony Jack’s, a few non-traditional menu items will be featured

    “We certainly want to showcase our restaurant and show what we can do that’s off the menu as far as different items,” said DePaolo.

    For more information about menus and participating restaurants, visit

  • 13 Oct 2015 1:29 PM | CRA Staff (Administrator)
    Full Story:

    Connecticut restaurant week begins today

    Connecticut Restaurant week is back.

    The 2015 version kicked off on Monday and lasts through Oct. 18.

    Participating restaurants from across Connecticut said they're offering special deals including multi-course meals for either $20.15 or $30.15.

    Many of the items available will be off of a price-fixed menu, but will take a percentage off of a patron's check.

    "Restaurant Week provides diners with a unique opportunity to go out and enjoy a great meal at a great price." said Nicole Griffin, executive director of the Connecticut Restaurant Association. "Restaurants from across Connecticut are participating in this year's event."

    Restaurant goers were urged to book their tables early.

    For a list of all the participating restaurants, click here

    Read more:

  • 06 Oct 2015 10:11 AM | CRA Staff (Administrator)

    Full Article!

    Connecticut Restaurant Week, sponsored by the Connecticut Restaurant Association, runs Oct. 12 to 18 with special menus and deals at eateries throughout the state. Participating CRA member restaurants will offer promotions for $20.15 or $30.15, including prix-fixe meals, two-for-one options or specially priced wines.

    Menus are still being posted, but early entries include a fall-inspired $20.15 three-course menu at Newington's Rooster Company, with entree choices of apple bourbon-brined pork chop, half-roasted chicken with polenta and sweet potato and miso-glazed swordfish with spaghetti squash and brussels sprouts. Millwright's in Simsbury also offers a $20.15 prix-fixe in its tavern, with choice of burger, fish tacos or dumplings for a main dish and a zucchini cake with caramel popcorn and blueberry creme fraiche ice cream or hazelnut florentine "cannoli" for dessert.

    Information and menus:

  • 22 May 2015 11:09 AM | CRA Staff (Administrator)

    A New Haven high school teacher recently won the James H. Maynard Excellence in Education Award from Golden Corral Restaurant, according to a press release from the Connecticut Restaurant Association’s publicist.

    Nathaniel Bradshaw, a ProStart educator at Wilbur Cross, was one of two educators from across the country awarded a $5,000 scholarship from the company, according to the release.

    One of the largest industry-supported career technical education programs in the nation, ProStart unites industry and secondary school classrooms to train students with the skills that help them achieve long-term, rewarding careers in the restaurant and food service industry, the release states.

    Bradshaw was instrumental in bringing the ProStart program to Cross three years ago, according to the release, and has represented Connecticut at the National ProStart Invitational with his students for the past two years. In April, Cross students competed in Anaheim, California.

    On Monday, Bradshaw represented the ProStart program at the International Food Manufacturers Association Gold & Silver Plate Celebration in Chicago during the National Restaurant Association Show, the release states.

    Judy Irwin, senior vice president of Human Resources & Training at Golden Corral, noted in the release Bradshaw’s dedication to his students and the countless hours he has spent creating summer and after-school programs.

  • 20 Apr 2015 2:18 PM | CRA Staff (Administrator)

    Neycha Santiago never thought she would be traveling to Disneyland to compete in a national culinary competition, much less be making plans to attend The Culinary Institute of America (CIA) in a few months.

    “I’m proud of myself and grateful to ProStart,” she says. This is Santiago’s second year competing on the Wilbur Cross High School culinary team from Connecticut. Last year she describes herself as “shy and nervous,” but now as the team’s captain she is just excited to show the judges her skills.

    Santiago explains that her mom taught her to cook, but her real culinary journey started in her high school culinary classes.

    “My teacher, Mr. Bradshaw, taught me everything I know. He helped me get into the CIA and gave me the confidence to be here as captain,” she says.

    Santiago will pursue an associate degree in baking and pastry when she joins the CIA in the fall, and hopes to be a pastry chef at a top restaurant and then open her own bakery someday. “I like showing my creativity through my desserts,” she says. “I don’t think a meal is complete without something sweet at the end.”

    ProStart helped Santiago not only with her culinary skills, but in all her classes. She says that the program taught her time management, teamwork and cooperation, which helped her with her college application.

    “I didn’t think I would be able to go to college, but now I can because of ProStart,” she says. Santiago will be the first in her family to attend post-secondary school, and says that without the scholarships and help from her instructor she wouldn’t be making the move to Hyde Park, N. Y., in the fall.

    The Wilbur Cross team is using produce and meat local to Connecticut and the New England area for their menu. Their plates will include a seafood cake appetizer, lamb chop entrée and a chocolate mousse dessert. “It’s so important to have local ingredients,” Santiago says.

    The team has adapted their menu and competition plan based on feedback during their state competition. Santiago says her team has worked so hard for this and she can’t wait to show the judges “what I’m about.”

  • 25 Mar 2015 11:39 AM | CRA Staff (Administrator)

    The following comes from the office of State Rep. David Rutigliano:

    New Haven — Julienne, Paysanne, Chiffonade: These are some of the knife cuts that Connecticut high school students had to demonstrate at the 2015, Connecticut Pro Start Invitational, Feb 27 at Gateway Community College.

    Culinary students from Wilbur Cross High School, and New Britain High School competed against one another in a wide array of cooking and kitchen tasks for trophies and accolades from local chefs.

    Dozens of audience members attended the event to cheer on the students, learn about culinary arts, and to witness Wilbur Cross winning the competition for the second straight year.

    Rep. Dave Rutigliano (R-123), Nicole Lee from Fresh Point wholesale produce company, and Tony Merchitto from Temple Grill, joined Gateway College Chefs to judge the competition.

    “I’m proud of these kids. They’ve worked hard to get here. Learning these skills, and working in a kitchen can open a lot of doorways for them,” said Rep. Rutigliano.

    The students were judged in categories ranging from knife skills to the production of three course meals, to clean-up and overall management.

    Lee repeatedly pointed out to the students’ the important of sanitizing their cutting boards and preparation areas. “I’m going to keep bringing up how important it is for you to not cross contaminate,” she told the students.

    New Britain’s meal menu included crostini with prosciutto, apricot jam and goat cheese; chicken with mustard sauce; sinful side sweet potato hash; steamed green beans with garlic; tropical ice cream parfait.

    The Wilbur Cross menu included, classic New England seafood cake; rosemary garlic lamb; rich chocolate mousse.

    Last year over $100,000 in scholarships were awarded at the Connecticut Pro Start Student Invitational. The Connecticut Restaurant Association & the Connecticut Hospitality Educational Foundation sponsored this year’s competition.

    “It’s an excellent way for the teams to showcase all their hard work and everything they have learned. The culinary world is full of talented students,” said Nicole Griffin, Executive Director of The Connecticut Restaurant Association.

    Rep. Rutigliano is currently on the board of the Connecticut Hospitality and Education Foundation.

    “My first job was in a kitchen, washing dishes,” he said. “Fortunately I was given a chance to learn cooking skills, like these kids. I hope that these kids keep up the good work and continue practicing their skills. There are always cooking jobs available,” he said.

    The Wilbur Cross team will travel to Disneyland in California to compete in the National ProStart Invitational April 18-21, 2015. 

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