News Feature | March 27, 2017

Restaurant And Hospitality News – March 27, 2017

Christine Kern

By Christine Kern, contributing writer


In news this week, the NRA backs the American Health Care Act to help reduce burdens on employers; Starbucks extends its pledge to hire more veterans; and Hilton Garden Inn launches new prototypes to help spur global development.

NRA Sees Republican Health Care Plan As Important First Step To Reducing Burdens On Businesses

The National Restaurant Association has endorsed the Republican healthcare plan as an “important first step” in reducing the healthcare costs of employers, according to the Nation’s Restaurant News. In a letter to House Speaker Paul Ryan,  Cicely Simpson, executive vice president of policy and government for the NRA wrote, “We support passage of the American Health Care Act as a way to move us forward in reforming the employer mandate and encourage members of Congress to support this bill through Congress.”

Though the Republicans did issue a number of last-minute amendments to the bill in order to bolster support, the NRA, U.S. Chamber of Commerce, and National Retail Federation each have signaled their support of the AHCA as an important move to help businesses reduce the monetary burdens placed upon them by Obamacare.  According to NRN, restaurants have been among the most vocal opponents of the ACA’s employer coverage mandate and the redefined full-time work threshold set at 30 hours per week.

“Restaurant operators who can provide health insurance benefits to their employees often find these benefits to be critical tools in recruiting and retaining employees,” Simpson wrote. “However, since the enactment of the ACA and the law’s employer mandate, restaurants have spent hundreds of additional administrative hours managing and delivering these benefits. The added time, money and resources have not improved the quality of health insurance benefits restaurants offer their employees.”

She asserted that healthcare costs rose much more sharply than restaurant sales in the past several years, and employer contributions for health insurance rose 51 percent while average sales per restaurant increased just 33 percent. “This indicates that health insurance costs are taking up a larger share of the restaurant dollar,” Simpson explained.

Of course, the AHCA is just the beginning for the NRA: Simpson stated, “Once this initial phase is complete, we look forward to working with you on additional fixes that are needed, including repealing the 30-hour rule, streamlining the employer insurance reporting requirements and repealing the seasonal worker definition.”

Details regarding how the Republican plan would alter the ACA are available on the Kaiser Family Foundation website.

Starbucks Makes New Vow To Hire Veterans and Military Spouses

Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz issued a renewed vow to hire a total of 25,000 veterans and military spouses by 2025, reacting to its backlash against hiring immigrants. The vow also follows the announcement that the company reached its previous pledge level of 10,000 veterans a year ahead of schedule. Starbucks also plans to open 100 additional U.S. locations that will be designed to be especially welcoming to members of the military and their communities. Additionally, 100,000 younger employees either not in school or unemployed, will join the chain, building on earlier commitments.

The social-media driven uproar that ensued following the Starbucks pledge to support immigrants argued that the chain should be hiring veterans instead, despite the company’s existing veteran-hiring program that was established in 2013. Some customers had launched a #BoycottStarbucks campaign on social media in response.

Despite the backlash, the company remains committed to both of its pledges to hire immigrants and veterans. "Starbucks' strong financial performance over the last 25 years as a publicly traded company has allowed for strategic investments in social impact initiatives – driving greater connection between partners and the millions of customers it serves in 75 countries worldwide," the company said in a statement announcing its veteran and refugee hiring commitments. 

Hilton Garden Inn Announces New Region-Specific Prototypes

As part of an effort to fuel global growth, Hilton Garden Inn, one of the Hilton brands, has announced the creation of six new customizable region-specific prototypes, one for each global region the brand operates (North America; Latin America;  Europe; Africa and the Middle East; Asia Pacific; and Australia).

The introduction of the regional prototypes is the first phase of a large-scale initiative to amplify the Hilton Garden Inn global brand. Additional components of the brand amplification program will launch in the coming months.

"In this highly-competitive industry, developers seek cost-efficient new-build opportunities that enable long-term revenue growth," said Mitch Patel, president, Vision Hospitality. "I applaud Hilton Garden Inn for developing these well-designed new regional prototypes, which clearly balance the needs of developers with the preferences of our loyal guests."

Magnolia, the North American prototype, is designed to reduce the hotel footprint by 8 percent and provide an estimated 6 percent reduction in construction costs while yielding a stronger return on investment. This new prototype is anticipated to help boost global growth, helping hotel developers to expand their portfolios while maximizing revenue.

The Magnolia prototype features a modular, pod-style check-in area; reconfigured public spaces with a bar-centric focus and modified food and beverage offerings; redefined multi-functional meeting spaces; and nature-inspired guestrooms with larger bathrooms.

"Hilton Garden Inn is rapidly expanding globally, and that requires a new approach to our hotel prototypes that addresses the localized needs and customs of each market," said John Greenleaf, global head, Hilton Garden Inn. "We are confident it will now be easier and more profitable than ever to build our hotels - no matter where you are in the world."