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National Restaurant Association - Meet the restaurant advocate: Anne K. Rollings

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Meet the restaurant advocate: Anne K. Rollings

At the Gecko’s Hospitality Group, community service and government relations go hand-in-hand.  Anne Rollings oversees both programs for the six-restaurant company, which has earned a reputation for commitment and responsibility in the Sarasota area that’s paying dividends for all involved.

Firsthand experience: I think there should be an unwritten rule that everybody who treats themselves out to a lovely night in a restaurant should have to work in one, at least for a little while. We’re in this business because we love sharing. But the realm of hospitality also includes very real business and economic forces. Hopefully, these forces allow owners to develop a strong giving program, to pay our employees above minimum wage, and to decide whether or not it would be in the best interests of our company and our employees to offer health care under the new law.

Community service and advocacy work together: We’re deeply involved as business partners in our schools in Sarasota and Manatee County. We’re charitable partners with scores of philanthropies in town, and help out with hundreds of philanthropies and fundraising events. Our owners are community leaders. 

Maintain a presence: I think our fellow citizens and our legislators see how hard we try to give back to our community. We’re neighbors. We all believe in enhancing the quality of life here. We see each other around the neighborhood and have a nice dialogue. Local leaders have seen how hard it has been for their constituents to weather the economic recession. We’re glad to play a role in employing folks, and creating economic stimulus.

Step up: If you don’t advocate, nobody will. As hard as the National Restaurant Association and Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association work to bring our voice to the table, it’s important for restaurants to be involved. Not everybody can be involved, but those who can, do. Show up. Listen.  If you can’t show up, send a letter.  

Pressing issues: The nuances of the health care law have a big impact on us. If we could re-set the table with a dialogue on some provisions very specific to restaurants, such as the 30-hour full-time definition and the calculation of full-time-equivalents, it would be a great point of departure for some meaningful change to make the law more workable.

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