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In the latest episode of Hospitality Hangout, Michael Schatzberg “The Restaurant Guy” and Jimmy Frischling “The Finance Guy” welcome special guests from the Texas Restaurant Association (TRA) – Ben Knorr, Director of Partnerships, and Joe Monastero, Chief Operating Officer. Broadcasting from Houston, Texas, the hosts revel in the larger-than-life experience that the Lone Star State offers.

Broadcasting from Houston, the conversation gets cooking with jaw-dropping statistics: Texas boasts a record-breaking 55,000 restaurant units, 1.4 million employees, and an eye-popping $90 billion in sales in 2022. That’s an incredible 20% growth from pre-pandemic levels, making Texas the only U.S. state in the black.

The hosts dig into the vital role of trade organizations, providing a supportive voice for small restaurant operators. Monastero serves up the dual mission of TRA: Knorr’s role of delivering partners, benefits, and services to supercharge operators’ bottom line, coupled with the association’s proactive advocacy. The TRA’s advocacy team, headed by President and CEO Emily Williams Knight and Chief Public Affairs Officer Kelsey Erickson Streufert, have cooked up some significant wins, including legislation making alcohol to-go permanent and fostering transparency in third-party delivery partnerships.

TRA’s secret sauce also includes a partnership with Adesso Capital, returning nearly $50 million in credits to its restaurant members and driving a whopping $300 million across the United States.

Frischling and Schatzberg grill the TRA team on the challenges of the PPP loan during the pandemic. Demonstrating the TRA’s tenacity, they managed to whip up bipartisan support for a “skinny bill” to make PPP loans more efficient for business owners, cooked to perfection in just four weeks.

The conversation takes a deep dive into TRA’s work in regulatory consistency, ensuring the smorgasbord of rules across Texas’ 254 counties and over 1200 municipalities doesn’t cause heartburn for business owners. The Regulatory Consistency Bill and the Restaurant Cleanup Act promise to cut through the red tape, from health code standards to labor laws.

They discuss how Texas operators are putting technology on the menu. While the restaurant industry has been slow to adopt digital solutions, the pandemic has underscored its crucial role. The journey to full integration is ongoing, but a new central marketplace for tech solutions is providing a recipe for digital transformation success. Pull up a chair and tune in to this episode of Hospitality Hangout!

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