It’s looking to be a difficult year for the industry, but by pulling together, we can pull through.
In January, I had the pleasure of attending Board meetings at the US National Restaurant Association (NRA) in New Orleans. As part of the agreement for our two national associations to work more closely together, I have been elected as International Director of the NRA.
There is very little difference between the issues faced by restaurateurs in the US and those in Australia, though here in Australia we do it tougher, substantially due to higher wage costs. There is much concern over the new US President’s pledge to increase the minimum wage to over $9 per hour. While this seems cheap against our $14 figure, it would be a $2 per hour increase.
There is a stark difference in the attitude of government to the restaurant industry in the US to that in Australia. In the US there is a level of comfort with the fact that restaurants and services more generally are the centerpiece of the economy. While the proportion in Australia is similar, the influence is spread across hotels, restaurants and ‘fast food’.
2009 is shaping up to be one of the toughest years ever. There will still be good news and success stories, but we will need to pull together.
I look forward to working with you all this year to keep our future strong.
President, Restaurant & Catering Australia