Nearly 600 restaurant and foodservice operators came to Washington, D.C., to participate in the National Restaurant Association's annual Public Affairs Conference.
The event, held April 12-13, featured a series of educational sessions focused on how legislative and regulatory challenges affect restaurateurs -- and how operators can make a difference on these issues. Attendees traveled to Capitol Hill in state delegations to engage in one-on-one meetings with their U.S. senators and representatives . Here are some highlights from this year's conference:
Operators visit the seat of government
Restaurateurs concerned about issues including tax reform, the joint-employer standard and the Department of Labor's proposed changes to the overtime rule traveled to Capitol Hill to discuss their concerns with lawmakers.
Sen. Lindsey Graham keynotes conference
The former GOP presidential candidate and senior senator from South Carolina addressed attendees at this year's conference. He talked about how important the restaurant industry is to business and the economy.
Industry CEOs share issues and answers
NRA CEO Dawn Sweeney, left, talked with Firehouse Subs chief Don Fox, Louisiana Restaurant Association CEO Stan Harris, and Rick Silva, president and CEO of Checker's Drive-In Restaurants, about how getting involved in advocacy can make a difference.
Lawmakers engage in Q&A discussion
Cicely Simpson, the NRA's executive vice president of policy and government affairs, left, led a panel featuring Majority Whip Steven Scalise (R-La.), House Ways & Means Committee Chairman Kevin Brady (R-Texas), and Congressman Bradley Byrne (R-Ala.), who addressed hot-button issues, including pending changes to the federal overtime rule.
The role of social media in advocacy
Conference attendees got to participate in an interactive session on social media and how it affects lobbying for public policy.
Making the trek to Capitol Hill
With the conference coming to a close, attendees boarded buses that took them to Capitol Hill for meetings with their lawmakers.
A meeting with the Speaker of the House
Members of the Wisconsin Restaurant Association met with House Speaker Paul Ryan, who told the group that working as a server as a young man helped him become the successful person he is today.
Arizona talks to Sen. John McCain
Members of the Arizona Restaurant Association met with the senior senator to discuss a series of issues as well as this year's presidential election.
New Hampshire goes to Washington
Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.) told members of the New Hampshire Lodging and Restaurant Association she supports the NRA's positions on the joint-employer standard, stopping harmful changes to federal overtime rules, and visa programs.
South Carolina meets up with Sen. Tim Scott
Carl Sobocinski, second from right, an NRA board member and part of the South Carolina delegation at the Public Affairs Conference, talked with Sen. Tim Scott, left, and the NRA's Matt Walker about top restaurant issuses.
New Jersey visits Sen. Cory Booker's office
The senator met with members of the New Jersey Restaurant Association to talk about overtime, increases to the minimum wage and the health care law.
For more about the 2016 Public Affairs Conference, go here.