By Megan Andrews, Legislative Assistant, Connecticut Restaurant Association
As one of the many contributors to economic success and tourism in Connecticut, the restaurant and hospitality industry has had to adapt new business strategies despite the devastation of the pandemic. Along with the Connecticut Restaurant Association (CRA), restaurateurs stepped up to strengthen and unite their voices in issues that affect the industry, such as outdoor dining, sales tax remittance and alcohol-to-go.
Now more than ever, we encourage restaurateurs and those in the hospitality industry to be at the forefront of conversations to educate both the public and legislators to ensure a successful and continuous recovery of our industry.
Often, the message surrounding restaurant relief and advocacy is projected from the national level where associations and lobbyists collaborate with top Congressional officials to evaluate legislation that will ultimately impact the industry. The Restaurant Revitalization Fund has been at the forefront of our conversations on continued funding and economic stimulation of the industry.
Although the focus may be on the national level, advocacy has a domino effect that starts at the local and statewide levels.
Legislative Roundtable in New Haven
The CRA continues to bring industry leaders and local restaurateurs together to collectively advocate for needed changes in local and state policies. Recently, the CRA held a Legislative Roundtable event in New Haven as part of the Kitchen Cabinet program which grants state associations funds for local lobbying efforts on behalf of the National Restaurant Association. New Haven Mayor Justin Elicker actively engaged with restaurateurs who revealed the hardships of the past two years.
To educate and voice their opinions, restaurateurs suggested ways in which the city and its leadership could help them recover and grow, as New Haven’s restaurant industry is vital to its tourism and economic future. The result of the meeting was a stronger relationship and understanding between New Haven leadership and restaurateurs that moved policies benefitting the industry forward.
Ways to Advocate at the Local Level
Collaboration among industry professionals and local leadership is essential to building relationships and giving an inside look at what our industry needs most.
Currently, we are nearing the end of the Connecticut legislative session, and the CRA has engaged in legislative calls and roundtables with our members, as well as testifying on legislation that impacts the industry. In addition, there are various other ways in which individual industry members can become involved to advocate on the local level for their businesses.
1. Contact Your Local State Legislators and Mayors’ Offices: Local legislators depend on small business support and restaurateur input. Through collaboration with the Connecticut Restaurant Association, restaurateurs and the hospitality industry made strides in West Hartford where Mayor Shari Cantor is using 10% of ARPA funds to give back to restaurants. For a full list of legislative contacts, visit www.ctrestaurant.org/advocacy.
2. Register and Vote in Local Elections: The makeup of local leadership makes a significant difference in policies, which means understanding candidates’ viewpoints and how their views will impact your business. Register to vote in Connecticut elections at www.cga.ct.gov.
3. Attend Local Legislative Events: Whether it’s attending a city council meeting or joining us at one of our Legislative Roundtable events, advocating on behalf of your business will impact legislators and business leaders to propose local policies that will enhance business development.
Did you know…
The Connecticut Restaurant Association holds several events, calls and meetings to engage industry opinions and collaborate with both local, state and federal legislators. Joining any one of these events is a great opportunity to advocate on behalf of your business and the industry’s endeavors.