The National Restaurant Association is a restaurant industry business association in the United States, representing more than 380,000 restaurant locations. It also operates the National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation. The association was founded in 1919 and is headquartered in Washington, D.C.
Dawn Sweeney is president and CEO of the National Restaurant Association. The 2012 Chair of the Board is Roz Mallet of PhaseNext Hospitality. Recent association chairs included Sally J. Smith of Buffalo Wild Wings, and Edward R. Tinsley of New Mexico, the franchiser of K-Bob's Steakhouse restaurant chain, who served from 2006-2007.
The National Restaurant Association, widely referred to as "the other NRA" (to distinguish itself from National Rifle Association, which shares the initialism), is a powerful lobbying force in Washington and state capitals. It is very active in fighting efforts to raise the minimum wage, as well as laws requiring paid sick leave. In July 2013, it boasted that it had successfully lobbied against raises in the minimum wage in 27 out of 29 states, and blocked paid sick leave legislation in 12 states. It also takes credit for halting any increase in the federal minimum wage for tipped employees, which has remained at $2.13 per hour since 1991.
The NRA supported the Fighting Hunger Incentive Act of 2014 (H.R. 4719; 113th Congress), a bill that would amend the Internal Revenue Code to permanently extend and expand certain expired provisions that provided an enhanced tax deduction for businesses that donated their food inventory to charitable organizations. The NRA argued that "the deduction for charitable donation of food inventory is a critical tool in alleviating hunger" because it "encourages donating the food to charity, by helping to offset the costs associated with preserving, storing and transporting the extra food."
The National Restaurant Association develops food safety training and certification program for restaurant employees. It also offers scholarships to foodservice and hospitality management and culinary students through NRAEF, and runs a national program for high school students. The NRA also presents a series of awards, including the Faces of Diversity; American Dream Awards, and the Restaurant Neighbor Award
It runs an annual restaurant and hospitality industry trade show in the U.S. in Chicago and conducts research about the restaurant industry in the U.S. For instance, it states that the restaurant industry in the United States is growing rapidly and now employs 12.9 million Americans in 970,000 locations—with sales in 2012 expected to reach $632 billion.
The National Restaurant Association also helps restaurant owners increase their environmental sustainability efforts.
In addition, the National Restaurant Association teamed up with Healthy Dining to launch Kids LiveWell, a program that helps restaurants increase healthful options on kids' menus - and makes it easy for parents to find those options when dining out.
The association works closely with its state restaurant and hospitality association partners and provides its members with tools and solutions to improve their business. It also organizes conferences and networking events for its members. There are six membership categories: Restaurant, Allied, Faculty, Student, Nonprofit and International.
The association lobbies for the restaurant and foodservice industry and represents the industry on Capitol Hill. It was the largest food and beverage political action committee contributor to both the U.S. Democratic and Republican Parties in the 2004 election cycle.
The association is actively opposing the lowering of the federal blood alcohol content limit from .08% to .05%