More than 120 restaurant owners and operators operators joined the California Restaurant Association (CRA) for its annual Lobby Day event April 22 at the Hyatt Regency Sacramento. On the forefront of many minds – the current and future business environment in the state and a handful of immensely important legislative issues with the potential for having great ramifications on the restaurant industry.
Of particular concern were two bills – AB 1522 (Gonzalez-D) and SB 935 (Leno-D) – that both have vast potential to significantly affect the ability of restaurant owners to operate profitably in California.
Senator Leno’s bill would increase the minimum wage to $13 per hour by 2017 with future increases indexing upward through a provision they be tied to inflation while Assemblywoman Gonzalez’s AB 1522 would require employers to offer as many as three paid sick days to employees who have worked a minimum of seven days in a calendar year.
Further developing the thematic thread of the day’s events, the Director of the Governor’s Office of Business and Economic Development (GO Biz) Kish Rajan served as the keynote speaker. With experience working for a mobile technology company in Silicon Valley, Rajan cut a sympathetic figure when discussing his understanding of the regulatory realities of operating a business in California.
“We know that in California, businesses are making decisions on a daily basis whether to stay here, to grow here or start here,” he said.
To cap off the session, a number of California-based restaurants were honored with Restaurant Neighbor Awards and Faces of Diversity American Dream Awards, celebrating achievements in philanthropy and entrepreneurialism. Restaurant Neighbor Award recipients included: Rio Grill (Carmel), Cohn Restaurant Group (San Diego), Maria’s Italian Kitchen (Los Angeles), The Habit Burger Grill (Irvine), Panda Restaurant Group (Rosemead) and Jamba Juice (Emeryville).
Operators awarded Faces of Diversity honors were Griselda Barajas (Griselda’s Catering, Sacramento), Edgar Escalante (Poquito Mas, Los Angeles), Carlito Jocson (Yard House Restaurants, Irvine) and Makhan Bains (Raja Sweets, Union City).
After the morning’s events, attendees were sent out to the Capitol building for group meetings with legislators where they were able to impart their message as constituents and business owners.
View a photo gallery of the event.