NRN editors, in the course of reporting for this special section, asked industry leaders the following question: “When it comes to politics, what is keeping you up at night, and what are you doing about it?” Here are their responses:
“The Affordable Care Act is really front and center for restaurant operators — trying to figure out how to do it, how it’s going to impact our staff and whether it’s going to be harder for our customers to go out [because we’ll have to raise prices].
“Being a franchise company, most of our franchisees don’t have that many employees, so our group is going to have to decide how to proceed. Even talking to the politicians, they’re still very unsure about how it’s going to turn out. We’re just trying to learn and educate ourselves.”
— Nick Vojnovic, president, Little Greek Franchise Development Inc., parent of the 11-unit fast-casual Little Greek Restaurant chain in Brandon, Fla.
“We monitor all of the [government] happenings, but the one thing that keeps everyone up for sure is health care reform. We’re just trying to stay as informed as we can as it evolves. We read about it, learn through our accountants and attorneys, the health care provider we use. We’re trying to be smart about it and listen and educate ourselves as best we can.”
— Tim McEnery, founder and chief executive, Cooper’s Hawk Winery & Restaurants, a 12-unit polished-casual chain in Countryside, Ill.
“Really at the forefront right now is the Affordable Care Act and our ability to be able to really digest it. It’s very, very complex. As a franchisor we have to be able to really understand the law’s implications and be able to help our franchisees. We’ve had conference calls with our franchise owners to hopefully help guide them and help them with what they should be doing to figure out health care now.”
— David McDougall, chief executive, Back Yard Burgers, an 85-unit quick-service chain in Nashville, Tenn.
“We’re watching a lot on health care. In our restaurants we’ve always been at 30 hours per week for [full-time] employees. If we can figure out a way to pay for it, we could really have a leg up in attracting the best talent. Philosophically, that’s where we’d like to be. Team members are going to look for those kinds of employers.”
— Phil Keiser, president, Culver Franchising System Inc., the Prairie du Sac, Wis.-based parent of the 475-unit quick-service Culver’s chain
“The personal well-being and success of our employees and franchise partners is always first and foremost on my mind. With the looming Affordable Care Act and other pending legislation, we are devoting a considerable amount of time and resources to fully understand how these mandates will impact our employees and franchisees.”
— Mike Hislop, chief executive, 145-plus-unit Corner Bakery Café and 21-unit Il Fornaio in Dallas
“It’s pretty clear to me that politicians will continue to not come to an agreement on the national debt. Inflation will continue to rise even more rapidly within the next two to four years. Everyone’s feeling fat and happy and still spending money, but what happens when the money printing stops? When the government starts being fiscally responsible, will consumers suddenly feel a whole lot poorer? They certainly will.
“To prepare, we are not doing high-end brands. I’m focusing on brands that I think are more insulated, more recession proof. All we can do as inflation kicks in is to raise prices accordingly.”
— Pierre Panos, founder and chief executive, QS America, the Atlanta-based parent of the eight-unit Fresh to Order fast-casual chain