Episode 28: Stan Harris of the Louisiana Restaurant Association Discusses the Fate of the Industry

In this week’s podcast we talk to Stan Harris, the president and CEO of the Louisiana Restaurant Association.

New Orleans restaurants are facing an existential crisis because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Logically, chains with deep pockets are in the best shape to survive the down year but many mom and pops in New Orleans and around the state are holding on by learning to put quality food on the table with lower budgets and fewer employees.

But how long can they survive? And what happens to those former employees who are waiting for jobs to return? The answer may depend on how much more federal and state aid is on the way. We talk about all this plus why you don’t hear about restaurant bankruptcies, how artificial intelligence can’t sauté a piece of fish and why the restaurant industry is particularly good for the state. Hint: no tax breaks. …

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Stan Harris began his career in the restaurant industry in the mid-1980s with TJM Management, the largest Ruth’s Chris Steak House franchisee, as well as operator of multiple concepts including TJ Ribs, Ninfa’s and Ruffino’s. He served as TJM President from 1990-2007.

For the last decade, Harris has served as the President and CEO of the Louisiana Restaurant Association. Association activities including legislative affairs, local, state and federal regulatory agencies, media relations, association policies, as well as program development and implementation all fall under his jurisdiction. Additionally, he oversees the LRA’s Self Insurer’s Fund for Workers’ Comp which specifically services the hospitality industry.

Throughout the pandemic, Harris has helped lawmakers and regulators understand the unique financial model of restaurants and served as Co-Chair of the Louisiana Resilient Commissions’ Restaurant and Entertainment Taskforce. He also served as a member of the Legislative Economic Recovery Task Force organized by Louisiana’s legislative leadership. He is frequently called upon to serve as a spokesman on behalf of Louisiana’s restaurant industry with members of Congress and media.

Harris serves as 2020 Chair of the National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation, which has raised $21.5 million for the Restaurant Employee Relief Fund with Celebrity Chef Guy Fieri to aid 43,000 restaurant employees nationwide. He also sits on the National Restaurant Association Board of Directors. An avid volunteer leader, he is a past chair of the Council for State Restaurant Associations and has served on countless boards in service to others. Harris is a graduate of Louisiana State University and a native of Baton Rouge, La.



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