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National Restaurant Association - Conventions close, but industry's message goes on

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Conventions close, but industry's message goes on

With the Presidential election in full swing, the National Restaurant Association hit the trail to tell lawmakers about the integral role restaurants play in growing the U.S. economy.

Throughout the Democratic and Republican National conventions, the NRA was front and center in Philadelphia and Cleveland, Ohio, partnering with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce at several events to share our industry’s stories, challenges and triumphs with delegates and politicians.

During the conventions, Association President and CEO Dawn Sweeney kept an ongoing account of what we did and are doing to spread the word about restaurants and the role they play in business.

On July 27, day three of the DNC, the NRA hosted a panel on economic opportunity and development from public-private partnerships Philadelphia. The panelists said restaurants are at the heart of the city’s revitalization and development efforts.

On July 26, day two, the NRA and Pennsylvania Restaurant and Lodging Association hosted a Restaurant Roundtable with local operators in Philadelphia. Ideas were shared about getting more engaged in our Kitchen Cabinet grassroots program and strengthening relationships with local elected officials.

In Cleveland, the NRA hosted daily events at Cowell and Hubbard, celebrity chef Zack Bruell’s, popular restaurant. Sweeney and other Association executives also met with Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker and U.S. House Majority Whip Steve Scalise of Louisiana.

Even though they’re separated by almost 400 miles, Cleveland and Philadelphia shared center stage during the conventions, and restaurateurs in both cities expected a business surge related to the political events.

Melissa Bova, government affairs director for the Pennsylvania Restaurant & Lodging Association, and Joe Rosato, director of government affairs for the Ohio Restaurant Association, said their organizations worked with officials to increase hours of operation, from 2 a.m. to 4 a.m., for restaurants and bars during the conventions.

Both agreed hosting the conventions was a huge opportunity for each city and the restaurants and hospitality businesses there. Bova said people who came to Philadelphia for the convention would come back as tourists. Rosato noted that for a few days, Cleveland was the political epicenter, and that’s why it was important for the industry to have a presence at the RNC.

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