The NY Restaurant Show sat down with Kevin Dugan, Regional Director for the New York State Restaurant Association (NYSRA) at our 2017 show to learn more about the benefits of becoming a member of NYSRA, current advocacy campaigns, and more.

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June's Industry Insights: Kevin Dugan, NYSRA

We sat down with Kevin Dugan, Regional Director for the New York State Restaurant Association (NYSRA) at the 2017 International Restaurant & Foodservice Show of New York to learn more about the benefits of becoming a member of NYSRA, current advocacy campaigns and more. 

What are the benefits of being a member of NYSRA?
Our mission statement is helping restaurateurs succeed and we do that in a number of different ways. There are three pillars that we work off of – the first is member services. We have a number of ally members that offer our members discounts that apply to companies that work in all kinds of fields; whether it’s music licensing or health insurance. Everything across the board, all of the ancillary costs that restaurants have. We have an advocacy pillar – we advocate for the restaurant industry at both the state, local and federal level. We have lobbyists in Washington, New York and New York City that are working on legislation, whether it be about scheduling, or minimum wage, or whatever else. And our third and final pillar is education. We have an educational foundation that provides scholarships for culinary high school students for post-secondary – so training the next wave of the restaurant industry. Those are the three ways our association helps the restaurant industry and encourages folks to get involved in those respects.

What types of advocacy campaigns are top of mind for NYSRA this year?
I’m actually in charge of our lobbying effort here in New York City, so some of the things we’re working on, like I mentioned before, fast food scheduling – currently the City Council is looking at legislation that would require fast food restaurants to schedule two weeks out; if there are changes in the schedule there’d be penalties involved. Also looking at legislation that would lower the taxes for commercial rents here in the city. That’s a big problem for a lot of our members down here as the rents are really expensive, as you can imagine. Scaffolding’s another one; when scaffolding’s up in front of storefronts it can really cut into the amount of walk-in business. So on the city level, that’s really what we’re working on. At the state level, we’re talking about food waste issues that are proposed in the budget; always fighting to maintain the tip credit, that’s very important to us; and really any other issues that come across our vantage point.

The National Restaurant Association reported on several trends for 2017, including food trends like sustainable seafood, gourmet kids' meals, and savory desserts; and concept trends like local sourcing and fast-casual dining, among others. Are you seeing any of these trends come forward for New York restaurateurs?
We have hyper-local sourcing – everyone wants to eat more locally, to find local product and support local business. That’s a trend across the nation and certainly a trend we’re seeing here as well. And another is food waste reduction. Food costs are going up, much like everything else, and if you can waste less food and still provide great service and great experiences to your customers, that can really help your bottom line and help restaurants succeed. 

From your perspective, how can NYSRA members benefit most from the NY Restaurant Show?
This show provides a great opportunity to see those trends and identify those trends, whether it be through all of the stuff taking place on the floor, like with Taste NY with the hyper local idea. It’s a great place to get new ideas to bring back to your restaurant. And that’s even before getting into all of the education it has. There’s a workshop on minimum wage that could be very important on how to survive that for restaurants. Labor costs are on the rise across the state – how do you manage that and make ends meet. There are all sorts of things at the show that can give restaurateurs the information that can help keep the doors open.

What have you seen at the show in 2017 that your members are talking about?
Danny Meyer is a huge draw and a very respected figure in the industry. People are definitely talking about his talk at the Torch Awards and ideas they got from him as well. And it goes back to the proliferation of the Taste NY section – there are so many New York State products here and so many exciting things, and the craft beverage pavilion as well. It’s definitely the local movement that many people are working towards.





More about the New York State Restaurant Association: 

The mission of the New York State Restaurant Association (NYSRA) is to help restaurateurs succeed. It is the first place restaurant owners and managers turn to gain a competitive edge by taking advantage of advocacy, education, and cost saving benefits. The NYS Restaurant Association is here to help with all your needs. From opening a new restaurant, to making an existing restaurant more successful, the Association is the best resource for your business! Visit NYSRA online at



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