In this mini-doc, follow this year’s team on their journey to the national championship, where the top schools from each state will compete under pressure to create the best culinary experience in the nation.
Connecticut Public Radio | By Ryan Caron King
Wilbur Cross High School in New Haven has been competing in the culinary arts for about 10 years. Despite having no budget for the program, the team began to win titles at the state and national level only a few years after they started to compete.
In this mini-doc, follow this year’s team on their journey to the national championship, where the top schools from each state will compete under pressure to create the best culinary experience in the nation.
by Sharon F. Freilich
In a June 7, 2023 press release, State of Connecticut Comptroller Sean Scanlon applauded the passage of House Bill No. 6930, which aspires to develop best practices for governance structures of municipal retirement plans. House Bill No. 6930 was signed into law as Connecticut Public Act 23-182 on June 27, 2023.
Public Act 23-182 includes a one-time reporting obligation for all municipalities that sponsor retirement plans for their employees. The required information is to be delivered to the Office of the State Comptroller no later than September 1, 2023. The following information is to be provided for each retirement plan maintained by a municipality:
The Office of the State Comptroller is directed to advise municipalities regarding the form and manner for providing the requested information. Hopefully, this guidance will clarify whether the information requested is limited to defined benefit plans which require actuarial valuations. As of the date of this Alert, the guidance has not yet been issued.
Ultimately, the Comptroller, Treasurer and Secretary of the Office of Policy and Management are required to use the plan information to develop best practices for governance structures of municipal retirement plans by July 1, 2024. Their report is to include recommendations of how the state can partner with municipalities to improve management of municipal plans, reduce fees, and improve investment returns.
For questions, concerns or assistance with this new reporting obligation, please contact any member of our Employee Benefits practice group.
The restaurant industry is one of opportunity, made up of myriad positions and career paths in restaurants and at the corporate offices of regional and national brands.
Right now, there are some 1.1 million foodservice and hospitality industry jobs available to prospective employees, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. In its ongoing effort to help operators and managers attract the best and brightest candidates for those positions, The National Restaurant Association recently updated its Restaurant Industry Job Descriptions landing page to showcase more than 60 restaurant-level and corporate-position job descriptions for companies to use when advertising their own job postings.
The purpose of the descriptions is to provide employers with a variety of options and prompts to refer to when creating job postings for their operations. The job postings will want to reflect the culture and attributes of each different organization. The short, simple descriptions also provide industry job seekers with a good list of qualifications they might want to consider when attempting to advance their own careers.
The job descriptions contained in this resource are for informational purposes only and based on general descriptions of what those roles might consist of or require, plus the necessary qualifications typically needed. Specific roles and responsibilities may vary, along with degrees, certifications, and experience not listed.
Click here to learn how to get your job postings, whether they’re homegrown or sponsored, to pop to the top of extensive online job listings and garner attention from great, career-seeking candidates. Visit the resource and allow it to help you create job descriptions that will work best for your operations’ needs and take your workforce to the next level.
It will also offer you tips on how best to keep to specific key words, properly specify compensation ranges, highlight your businesses’ diversity, core values and culture, as well as point out the perks, like flexible scheduling, for working at your establishments.
By Lezla Gooden
Eyewitness News 3
HARTFORD, CT (WFSB) - The National Restaurant Association is calling for Congress to renew federal funds created to help restaurants and bars struggling during the COVID-19 pandemic.Officials in Connecticut have sounded the alarm and said they are barely holding on.
“We are working hard to stay open and like the only word I can think of why we are still here is love,” said Dino Cialfi, owner of Peppercorn’s Grill in Hartford. “Lots of love. From customers and us giving back and forth.”
Peppercorn’s Grill has been feeding Hartford for three decades. The Italian restaurant said COVID is its biggest battle yet.
“I won’t go down without a big, big fight,” Cialfi said.
Cialfi said the business was hoping to get money from the $28.6 billion Restaurant Revitalization Fund that was made available in 2021.
“We got on that computer the moment it opened, and we were bumped off for both restaurants because they had run out of funds that quickly,” he said.
According to a new survey released this week by the National Restaurant Association, 50 percent of restaurants that did not receive RRF grants said it was unlikely they would stay in business beyond the pandemic without a grant.
“On the surface, it was great,” said Scott Dolch, president and CEO of the Connecticut Restaurant Association. “Sixteen hundred Connecticut restaurants got funding for losses and that’s the good side. About $300 million. But the problem was over 2,000 were eligible and got nothing. The federal government has to finish the job and help those 2,000.”
The Connecticut Restaurant Association said that state funding is still available for businesses, but distributing those funds is not simple.
“I think the challenge right now is that the money lies within the cities and towns and we have to think of creative ways that the cities and towns are using their American Rescue Plan dollars to help our industry,” Dolch said.
The Connecticut Restaurant Association said unless Congress approves funds, hundreds of restaurants could close their doors in the next couple of weeks.
By Susan Dunne
January 24, 2022
The omicron variant has had a devastating impact on the dining industry, especially restaurants passed over last year by the Restaurant Revitalization Fund, the National Restaurant Association (NRA) reports.
In a Zoom news conference on Monday, the NRA announced that a poll of U.S. restaurateurs found that almost half that didn’t get RRF funding in 2021 say they likely won’t survive unless the fund is replenished. This could result in the loss of 1.6 million jobs nationwide, NRA spokesman Sean Kennedy said.
“The Restaurant Revitalization Fund has been a critical lifeline for so many but far more remain on the sidelines,” said Kennedy. “Omicron definitely has had a negative impact on restaurant operations. Effectively, the restaurant recovery continues to move in reverse.”
The poll, completed by 4,200 restaurateurs from across the nation between Jan. 16 to 18, found 88% of restaurants saw a decline in indoor dining due to the omicron variant; 76% report business is worse now than it was three months ago, and 74% report their restaurant is less profitable now than pre-pandemic. Also, 94% said a grant would let them retain or hire back employees.
Connecticut-specific statistics were not available Monday.
Kennedy said the RRF funding last year saved more than 900,000 jobs nationwide and helped 96 percent of grant recipients stay in business.
Kennedy cited the industry’s average 3 to 5% percent profit margin, and the fact that before the pandemic, the average restaurant had just 16 days’ cash on hand in case of emergency. “The needs of the restaurant industry have never been more dire and never been more clear right now,” he said.
At the news conference, Kennedy said NRA wrote to Congress to encourage the replenishment of the fund. “The timing of this is critical. Congress is facing a Feb. 18 deadline to pass a government spending bill,” he said.
Hudson Riehle, a research specialist with the NRA, stressed that the dining industry is the nation’s second-largest private-sector employer, after health care.
“There are too many restaurants that are jeopardized right now. … Too many jobs on the line. Failure is truly not an option,” Riehle said. “Every light for our industry is blinking red.”
Kennedy and Riehle were joined by two restaurant owners, including Tricia Martin of TJ’s Burritos in East Granby and a pancake-house proprietor from Plano, Texas.
Martin’s restaurant was not qualified for a PPP loan because it opened in 2021 and was passed over for a RRF grant. She said TJ’s is “not any better off now than we were three months ago.”
The timing of the omicron surge was a blow, she said.
“When we had outdoor dining, and they eased up on the restrictions on seating capacity, all of a sudden the summer was great,” she said. “Then omicron hit when it got cold and we lost the whole patio at the same time. We were able to keep everyone on, but we had to reduce hours.”
Martin said consumer confidence took a hit, too. “Our town didn’t have an indoor mask mandate but other towns did and that made people scared, not comfortable. Our foot traffic decreased,” she said.
Martin described TJ’s earnings as “flat,” due to increases in food, supplies and the cost of wages. She said the restaurant hopes to add more seating this year, and is hoping for an RRF grant to help them.
The $28.6 billion RRF was part of the American Rescue Plan. Nationwide, 278,304 restaurants applied for a total of $72,233,280,031, and 101,004 were granted a total of $28,574,979,472, according to the Small Business Administration. In Connecticut, 3,369 Connecticut restaurants applied for a total of $790,818,094 in grants from the federal fund. A total of 1,303 received funding, totaling $301,164,069.
Eyewitness News 3
By Ayah Galal
HARTFORD, CT (WFSB) – As the positivity rate continues to climb in Connecticut, Hartford has reinstated its indoor mask mandate.
This comes as many restaurants in the capital city have already been struggling amid the pandemic.
Banh Meee opened its Ann Uccello Street restaurant in Hartford just weeks before the pandemic hit in 2020.
“I think they have the best sandwich in the area,” said Ryan Byrnes of West Hartford. “I think that’s one thing we’re missing in greater Hartford is great sandwiches, so I’ll recommend the Banh Meee down here.”
While business has gone up a bit in the last year, owner G Tran says the times are still tough.
“Dine-in business is still pretty quiet but take-out business is pretty flat,” Tran said.
Before COVID, Tran says about 50 percent of business was takeout.
Now, about 90 percent is take-out and 10 percent of customers dine in.
This week, Hartford reinstated its indoor mask mandate.
“I think it’ll impact business a little bit,” Tran said.
Restaurant owners think more people will return to takeout.
“I understand it. Obviously, it’s a big spike right now,” Byrnes said.
“When you turn the page into January and February, it’s really about survival for these restaurants,” said Scott Dolch, Executive Director of the Connecticut Restaurant Association.
Dolch says while he hopes the mandate doesn’t negatively impact restaurants, Hartford has been dealt a tough hand.
“I love the city of Hartford and I don’t want to have to see any more businesses close their doors. I know the mayor feels the same way. We’re just trying to find the best solutions to get through it,” Dolch said.
Regular customers say in the meantime, they’ll continue doing their best to support local restaurants.
“It’s absolutely important. I mean it’s part of social contract,” said Sal Lena of Higganum.
Hartford’s indoor mask mandate will continue through the end of January.
Doctors say case numbers are expected to start decreasing by early February.
CT DPH STRESSES PRACTICING FOOD SAFETY
DURING A POWER OUTAGE
The Connecticut Department of Public Health stresses that it’s extremely important that proper food safety is practiced in the event of a power outage:
Helpful food safety resources:
Keep Food Safe After a Disaster or Emergency | Food Safety | CDC
Food and Water Safety During Power Outages and Floods | FDA
Food Safety in a Disaster or Emergency | FoodSafety.gov
From the Danbury News Times: 'Let’s do this’: Brookfield man taking on 48-hour running challenge to save CT restaurants
Link to Article by Leeanne Griffin
Mike Silvestri says two of his favorite activities are running and dining out. Next month, he’s doing one to save the other.
The 34-year-old Brookfield resident, an avid runner and marathoner, is committing to the “Goggins Challenge” on March 5, when he’ll run four miles every four hours for 48 straight hours. Along the way, he’s raising money for the Connecticut Restaurant Association’s Restaurant Relief Fund, hoping to help state eateries get back on their feet after COVID-19.
Silvestri, who ran the Boston Marathon in 2011, says he’s always been a “challenge person.” He’s a fan of David Goggins, an ultra-endurance athlete and retired Navy SEAL, and decided to follow along with his running challenge, which in its second year. As the challenge is on a national platform through social media, Silvestri thought it would be a good chance to raise money for a cause.
“I figured I’d combine my crazy tendencies with challenges like this with raising money for something good,” he said.
A friend in state politics put him in touch with the Connecticut Restaurant Association, which announced the creation of its relief fund in January. Silvestri decided to raise money to contribute to the fund, which will provide one-time $5,000 grants to eligible businesses.
“With the pandemic, everyone had to stay home, and missing that restaurant, going out [experience] — that was taken from everybody,” he said. “And a lot of those restaurants suffered.”
Silvestri set up a GoFundMe site, encouraging his friends and followers to donate to the cause, or to consider doing the challenge themselves. He raised $3,000 in six days, he said, then upped the goal to $6,000.
The challenge begins at 11 p.m. on March 5, and Silvestri will run four miles during each subsequent four-hour block during the a 48 hour period. The schedule will have him running through the night, and he’s still planning how to sleep, stretch, and refuel throughout the duration.
He’s also finalizing his running route. He’d like to run through downtown Danbury and Bethel, with plans to pass by restaurants along his path.
Scott Dolch, executive director of the Connecticut Restaurant Association, said he was heartened by Silvestri’s show of support.
“People [are] really understanding what a restaurant does for their community, the impact that it has, and wanting to do creative things to support it,” he said. “It’s been really incredible to see individuals, businesses, come to us and say, ‘We know you've been hit so hard, we want to do our part, how can we help.’”
The relief fund received an initial donation of $500,000 through a partnership with DoorDash. Dolch said the fund has received about 760 applications from Connecticut restaurants. About 90 applicants will receive funding in the first wave of grants, he said.
As a small business owner himself, Silvestri said he empathizes with restaurant owners. He started his own recruitment firm, Silvestri Staffing, just four months before COVID impacted the global economy. The pandemic has affected his business to a degree, he said, as offices close and employees are laid off.
“It’s just really been a sad year,” he said.
DOORDASH PROVIDES $500,000 CONTRIBUTION TO CONNECTICUT RESTAURANT ASSOCIATION’S NEW RESTAURANT RELIEF FUND
DoorDash’s latest Main Street Strong effort will support restaurants as they continue to recover from the COVID-19 crisis
CONNECTICUT – Today, DoorDash and the Connecticut Restaurant Association (CRA) announced that DoorDash is contributing $500,000 to the CRA’s Connecticut Restaurant Relief Fund as part of a new partnership between the organizations. The contribution is part of DoorDash’s $200 million, 5-year Main Street Strong Pledge, which includes a $10 million grant program to help restaurants in select cities across the United States and Canada. The partnership between DoorDash and the CRA will enhance the lines of communication between restaurants and DoorDash, as well as allow DoorDash to share updates on products and services available to help restaurants grow sales and meet new customers.
“In the midst of historically challenging times for local restaurants, DoorDash’s contribution to the Connecticut Restaurant Relief Fund will provide much needed financial support for local businesses throughout our state,” said Executive Director Scott Dolch of the Connecticut Restaurant Association. “Throughout the pandemic, restaurants have worked tirelessly to stay in business while keeping their customers and staff safe. We look forward to growing this fund, so we can help even more restaurants as they fight every day to survive this pandemic, so they can be part of our economic recovery in the months and years ahead.”
DoorDash was founded with the mission of empowering local economies and the success of restaurants is core to that goal,” said Katie Witman, Senior Policy Advisor, DoorDash. “The past year has created unprecedented challenges and it is more important than ever to support Connecticut restaurants as they continue to navigate this crisis.”
“The State of Connecticut has worked with local restaurants and other small businesses throughout the pandemic, including utilizing federal CARES Act funding to get grants directly to businesses in need through our Department of Economic and Community Development and Office of Policy and Management,” said Connecticut Governor Ned Lamont.
“DoorDash has been a partner with our state since early in the pandemic, working with our agencies and communities to help provide meals for those who needed them. Our small businesses, especially our restaurants, are part of the fabric of our communities and I’m thrilled to see this corporate partner provide this new aid.”
The purpose of the CT Restaurant Relief Fund is to provide restaurants who have faced significant financial hardship the opportunity to apply for a grant to help keep their business open and their workers employed. Pending the review of the Foundation and verification that the submitted application meets the prescribed guidelines, a one-time grant of up to $5,000 will be disbursed directly to each recipient. Availability of awards will be based on available funds and will be limited to one per restaurant group.
All Connecticut restaurants who are looking to apply can go to www.ctrestaurantrelief.org and submit their application on Monday, January 25.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, DoorDash has taken significant active steps to ensure the safety of our entire community, including:
● Main Street Strong Pledge committing $200M over five years to support restaurants, Dashers, and the broader community
● Providing $120 million in commission relief and marketing investments
● 50% reduction in commissions for mom-and-pop restaurants, plus 0% commissions for pickup and 0% commissions for restaurants new to DoorDash
● Free personal safety equipment for Dashers, including hand sanitizer, gloves, wipes, and masks
● Two weeks of earnings for eligible Dashers affected by COVID-19
● COVID-19 screenings and telemedicine appointments for just $4 per visit Read more about DoorDash’s efforts to help restaurants through our Main Street Strong Pledge, click here.
DoorDash is a technology company that connects customers with their favorite local and national businesses in more than 4,000 cities and all 50 states across the United States, Canada and Australia. Founded in 2013, DoorDash empowers merchants to grow their businesses by offering on-demand delivery, data-driven insights, and better in-store efficiency, providing delightful experiences from door to door. By building the last-mile delivery infrastructure for local cities, DoorDash is bringing communities closer, one doorstep at a time. Read more on the DoorDash blog or at www.doordash.com.
About Connecticut Restaurant Association
The Connecticut Restaurant Association is a full service, not-for-profit trade association dedicated to supporting every type and size of restaurant. We are advocates for the Connecticut restaurant industry, a hub for information and a platform for networking. We commit ourselves to offering cost effective benefits and resources you need to run a profitable business. The industry plays an integral role in Connecticut’s economy employing more than 160,000 foodservice workers and generating nearly $9 billion in annual sales. Along with the Connecticut Hospitality Educational Foundation (CHEF), the Association protects, advances, and educates the growing industry. Learn more at www.ctrestaurant.org.
Connecticut Restaurant Association
Governor Lamont announced today an additional $35 million in CARES Act funding to aid small businesses, an increase from the originally proposed $25 Million. The Business Recovery Grants will provide close to 2,000 Connecticut businesses a grant in the range of $10,000 to $30,000 depending on hardship and size.
There is no application process as the DECD is working with DRS to finalize eligibility. Checks will be distributed directly to those businesses before the end of the year.
“We’re very thankful to Governor Lamont, Commissioner David Lehman, and Chief of Staff Paul Mounds for their partnership in getting to this point. Our association has been advocating for additional funding since September, and the Governor and his team have kept an open door throughout, fully recognizing the damage done to our industry. We’re also very grateful to the many state legislators who put forward plans and calls to action in recent days and weeks, as their efforts helped keep the conversation moving toward action and a positive outcome,” said CRA Executive Director Scott Dolch.
Click HERE to read the media statement from Scott Dolch.
The CRA will be hosting an industry update webinar on Wednesday, December 23rd at 10AM to provide further details about the state grants and the recently announced federal stimulus package. Register for the webinar
**ACTION ALERT** - Industry Impact Survey - Omicron impact, RRF, ERTC, Tip credit (submit by January 18)