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From the 3rd Quarter 2017 issue of Wisconsin Restaurateur Magazine
Chairman photo

Chair’s Column

Susie Patterson
Al & Al’s Stein Haus, Sheboygan

  Ed Lump. FMP photo

President’s Column

Ed Lump, FMP
WRA President and CEO

Changes and Challenges

Well, I’m halfway through my year as your chair. It sure has been busy and exciting. As you have already heard, our President & CEO Ed Lump, is retiring after 35 years of dedicated service to our industry. We have been busy planning for the day in March when it will be official. It seems hard to imagine the WRA without Ed at the helm.

I’d like to bring all of you up to date with our task of filling the “huge shoes” of our esteemed leader. I have chosen a committee of your past and current WRA board leaders to conquer the task of choosing our new President & CEO.

We have met numerous times and have hired a search firm to guide us along the way and sift through the applications for the right fit. The folks at the National Restaurant Association have also been involved in the process and offer their experience and knowledge. I feel confident that the committee is dedicated and understands the importance and responsibility of the task in front of us.

The job description has now been posted on the WRA website. Please refer all interested applicants to Pyramind LLC (their information is also on the WRA website).
We intend to both celebrate and honor Ed’s legacy in the months ahead. We will be calling on all of you to join us in Milwaukee, Madison and at your local chapter events to share in our celebrations of Ed’s dedication and commitment to the WRA. If you would like more information, you may contact me or Carrie Douglas at the WRA office.

Here's a brief update on my workforce development project. For various reasons, we are facing a shortage of employees. We have also learned from the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development researchers that it’s a fact; our population has also been decreasing. This is another challenge we must deal with when searching for employees. This one will be an obstacle for the foreseeable future. What are we doing? The WRA staff is working on a website portal with links to available resources for hiring employees. We are also working on an email campaign to inform members of the various means we have been exploring. The Midwest Foodservice Expo in March will also have a strong emphasis on employment issues.

In addition, we continue to press upon our legislators the importance of workforce development issues. This includes the negative effects of benefits cliffs and the need for middle and high school tech centers to reduce barriers for teens entering the workforce. The Governor is working to address several of these issues that will be a benefit to
our industry.

We must continue to change the public image of working in the restaurant industry. We are an industry of opportunity! There are endless advantages to working in our industry: flexible schedules, competitive pay, unlimited levels of experience and training, positions available at all age and skill levels, experience that can travel to many areas, just to name a few. From a busser to the board room! It happens all the time.

We are our best advocates and must continue to promote our industry in a
positive light.

Wishing you all the best!

One Last Pet Peeves Column

As might be expected, I dine out often; usually six or seven times per week. These occasions are both for business and pleasure—although I often have a hard time separating these things. My wife and I both love to cook, as do our children and grandchildren. I am always looking for a new experience and love to critique menus, presentation and quality. I am a positive person, but occasionally I find myself irked by very simple things.

Tomatoes not fit to eat: Tomatoes are used for flavor or as an edible garnish and there is nothing better than a fresh, ripe, Wisconsin tomato. I can hardly wait for the first vine-ripened fruit which usually appears in late July. However, even during the high season many restaurants persist in presenting the same barely red, tasteless version that they serve during the ten month long off-season.

As to the off-season, there must be an acceptable alternative. Heirloom varieties have more flavor but have a short shelf life and are more expensive. In May of this year, I had the pleasure of enjoying a burger that sported a large, flavorful roasted tomato. Wow! What a treat. How about doing that?

Sandwiches so big they must be deconstructed to be eaten in civilized company: I know people eat with their eyes and a half pound burger with a slice of real cheddar, bacon, pickles, lettuce, onion rings and a fried egg, served on a lightly toasted brioche bun looks magnificent. However, there is no way to take a bite of this beast without crushing the bun to oblivion and losing much of the extras out of the sides of the bun. Knife and fork please. But deconstruction destroys the sandwich concept. I am picking on the burger here but it could just as easy apply to chicken, turkey or fish.

I really don’t mind seeing these giant offerings on the menu but please offer a traditional quarter pound piece of meat or fish with cheese on a good bun as an option.

Serving wine beyond its time: I find it hard to believe that many restaurants and bars persist in pouring wine that is not good anymore. Maybe they are hoping that customers won’t notice or will question their own taste buds instead of the wine. I have three ways of dealing with this (although I shouldn’t have to deal with it at all): I send it back and request a fresh pour; I ask the barkeep how long the bottle has been open which almost always causes them to reach for a new bottle; or I scan the back bar and order a pour from an unopened bottle. The point is, the bartender/manager should know how fresh the wine is or what steps have been taken to properly preserve the open wine. It is their responsibility to not serve it if there is any doubt.

Lastly, bathroom doors: A big thank you to all the restaurants that have installed a paper towel dispenser and wastebasket by the washroom exit door so that the person who has washed their hands can grab a towel and use it to open the door so as not to be contaminated by those folks who don’t wash their hands (and there are a lot of them).

I know some readers might feel I am too picky but I just think that restaurants should be clean and that everything on the plate should be not just edible, but very good. There are a lot of restaurants out there and attention to detail can make all the difference.

Enjoy the rest of your summer!

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