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Year in Review, A Letter from RAMW President and CEO Kathy E. Hollinger

Kathy E. Hollinger, RAMW President and CEO

Kathy E. Hollinger, RAMW President and CEO

If the past year was anything for the Restaurant Association Metropolitan Washington (RAMW), it was a year marked by change: in the way we look, the way we think and the way we operate. Coming out of our most recent annual meeting at the end of March, and thinking back to the goals we set in 2013, we will continue to work smart to build a strong organization that is able to continue to address the needs of our growing restaurant and foodservice community.

This past November, the Association undertook a massive rebranding project that resulted in a new brand identity and new website. Our new identity shifts its focus away from the Capitol dome and towards the Washington Monument, a landmark that better represents the region of which we are apart and which can be seen by our members in DC, Maryland and Virginia. This identity has been incorporated across all our communication channels and provides the backdrop for a robust web and social media presence that promotes large communities online, through engaging content and active participation on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Instagram.

In the past year we grew our membership base across the region by over 20 percent. We embarked on an aggressive legislative agenda and continued to fight for a positive regulatory environment in DC, Maryland and Virginia. Realizing the value of acting at the local level, RAMW launched a series of Neighborhood Restaurant Roundtables, which brought varied interests and stakeholders to the table to discuss the issues that most directly affect them. Through these activities we were able to shape policy and drive mobilization efforts around proposals to increase the tipped minimum wage in DC and repeal prohibitive happy hour advertising laws in Virginia. These round tables have also served as a way to deliver important messages around other issues affecting the local restaurant industry, especially changes in auto-gratuity laws, sick and safe leave policies and health care. Moving forward into the year ahead, we are eager to continue to work proactively with local legislative bodies and regulatory agencies whose policies affect restaurant operations.

Also in 2013, RAMW became a state affiliate with the National Restaurant Association, which has expanded resources and services available to RAMW members. We have grown our training program, which now offers ServSafe food safety manager and alcohol manager courses at a discount to our members. All this is done within the framework of our goal to position RAMW as the primary provider of food safety and alcohol manager training in the Metropolitan Washington area.

RAMW programming took some exciting turns this year, too. The organization’s semi-annual Metropolitan Washington Restaurant Weeks attracted more participating restaurants than ever before and we introduced several new lines of consumer-focused programming including Cocktail Week and the Spring Wine Fling. In 2014, the Association will focus more on building the bridge between our restaurant members and regional diners through innovative content strategies, additional programming and events, and strategic partnerships.

Looking ahead to the immediate future, RAMW is in the midst of preparing for the 32nd Annual RAMMY Awards Gala. Named the #1 Food & Restaurant event by BIZBASH Magazine for five consecutive years, The RAMMYS celebrate Metropolitan Washington’s greatest assets: its restaurants. This year’s event will take place on Sunday, June 22 at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center. To keep up with Metropolitan Washington’s quickly evolving dining scene, new this year are seven award categories that celebrate brunches, service programs, mixology and other definitive aspects of the greater Washington’s restaurant and foodservice industry. If you have not yet seen this year’s impressive list of finalists, we encourage you to check them out online at www.therammys.org.

2014 should prove to be equally as exciting for our organization as 2013. RAMW will continue to serve its members with professionalism and integrity, and provide them the training, education and support they need to grow a successful business. So here’s to the year ahead and the restaurant community we represent.

Learn more about RAMW, RAMW services and RAMW programming online at www.ramw.org

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