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ASSOCIATION NEWS RAMW

Spring is here, which brings warmer temperatures, visitors, and diners to our nation’s capital. For Restaurant Association Metropolitan Washington (RAMW), it brings a new fiscal year, ripe with opportunities and exciting new dining experiences and promotions for foodies across the region to enjoy.
The coming year builds on what was a banner year for restaurants here! DC is the #1 Restaurant City in the U.S. — according to Bon Appétit Magazine — and the industry and RAMW were honored in March to have Bon Appétit Editor-in-Chief Adam Rapoport as our keynote speaker at the RAMW annual meeting. Mr. Rapoport spoke to a full house at Marcel’s by Robert Wiedmaier about DC’s evolving restaurant scene and what went in to choosing the District as the magazine’s top pick for the title. Something special is happening in Washington, DC. We hear over and over again that a lot of that success — while grounded in the incredible talent all across the region — is also made possible by a community of operators who cheer each other on and root for each other’s accomplishments. Today’s success is built on a strong foundation of many years of talent and hard work that got us to this point, and now new culinary voices are helping to bring the whole industry into the world view.
RAMW is privileged to represent a group of nearly 1,000 businesses who are dedicated to making their establishments, and the region, a destination for dining. As the advocate and voice of the industry, we are also ending a landmark year legislatively. We faced plenty of challenging policy issues in both DC and Virginia this year that allowed RAMW to be region-wide leaders and champions on some very important pieces of legislation.
In DC, we single-handedly led the wage discussions. Through parallel efforts, we successfully redirected an overreaching bill from the mayor, while effectively halting an industry changing ballot initiative that would have abolished the tip credit. Our relentless work on behalf of the membership has resulted in a stalling of sorts of the universal paid leave legislation. We are back in the driver’s seat as the DC City Council reconsiders the method of funding for the leave benefits to reduce hardship on businesses. We are actively involved in discussions with members of the Council to guide the discussion in a way that provides a better outcome for the industry.
In Virginia, we successfully defeated the Fairfax meals tax ballot referendum, a huge win for our Northern Virginia members. Our landmark legislative accomplishments this year highlight that decisions are not made without restaurants, and RAMW, at the table.
As a resource for members, we continue to work hard to provide educational information so operators can stay informed and efficiently run their businesses. In workforce development, we’ve joined forces with job placement groups throughout the region to bridge the gap between available jobs and a qualified workforce. We also created a hiring guide that will streamline the staffing process.
To bring diners to restaurants, we’ve improved and built on our consumer programming as well. January’s Winter Restaurant Week was a huge success. We launched the first-ever brunch option and saw a 31 percent increase in reservations made on RWDMV.com. We also have our monthly consumer e-newsletter Food+Drink that connects our members directly with area foodies. In March, we held our Spring Wine Fling promotion, and our new Barbeque and Grilling Week comes to restaurants across the region June 19-25. And, be sure to mark your calendars to celebrate restaurants and foodservice at the 35th Annual RAMMY Awards Gala on July 30 at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center with our event sponsor, Events DC.
We closed our year stronger than ever before — an advocate, resource, and community for our members. We look forward to our 97th year, a great year ahead!

ASSOCIATION NEWS RAMW Kathy E. Hollinger, President

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