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April 5, 2018

Iowa Restaurant Association President Named 2018 Inspiring Women of Iowa Courage Award Recipient

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April 5, 2018
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Thursday, April 5, 2018 – Des Moines, IA – Congratulations to Jessica Dunker, President & CEO of the Iowa Restaurant Association, who has been named the 2018 Inspiring Women of Iowa Courage Award Recipient by the Girls Scouts of Greater Iowa. Dunker was nominated by an anonymous source for the Courage Award which is given to a woman who has shown strength in the face of fear, pain, or grief and persevered. Dunker accepted the award at a luncheon held at the Des Moines Marriott on Wednesday, April 4.

In her acceptance speech, Dunker commented, “I realize the courage that was required by the women who were nominated in this category and the things they’ve had to overcome in their lives and I am so honored to be in their company. Every one of the nominees are women of courage, character and confidence.”

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Iowa Restaurant Association
The Iowa Restaurant Association provides advocacy, education and promotional support to Iowa’s restaurant and tavern industry. www.restaurantiowa.com

Media Contact:
Katelyn Kostek
Public Relations Specialist
kkostek@restaurantiowa.com
515-276-1454

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February 5, 2018

70 Million Americans to Celebrate Valentine’s Day at a Restaurant

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February 5, 2018
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West Des Moines – February 5, 2018 – More than seventy million Americans will celebrate Valentine’s Day at a restaurant this year according to the National Restaurant Association. Many restaurants plan to offer special promotions, entertainment, flowers and other romantic items, making a night at a favorite or new restaurant a perfect gesture for the one you love.

“The top three deciding factors for couples choosing to eat out are the familiarity of a favorite eatery, a romantic setting, and special menu offerings,” said Jessica Dunker, president and CEO of the Iowa Restaurant Association. “It’s not too soon to make reservations as Valentine’s Day is the second most popular holiday to dine out in America (behind Mother’s Day), and about one-third of those celebrating the holiday will be visiting a restaurant.”

Those with busy schedules who choose to celebrate their love on a night other than February 14th are in luck. Nearly one-third of consumers prefer to receive a restaurant gift card from a significant other over chocolate, flowers and even jewelry this holiday. Think ahead and give the gift of a great dining.

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Iowa Restaurant Association
The Iowa Restaurant Association provides advocacy, education and promotional support to Iowa’s restaurant and tavern industry. www.restaurantiowa.com

Media Contact:
Katelyn Kostek
Public Relations Specialist
kkostek@restaurantiowa.com
515-276-1454

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January 22, 2018

Hospitality Industry Seeks Reform to Secure Higher Coverage To Help Innocent Victims Harmed by an Intoxicated Person

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January 22, 2018
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Under Iowa’s current antiquated system, only hospitality operators are required to insure themselves against the behavior of others. This mandated insurance is often cost-prohibitive, providing little coverage to the business or assistance to innocent victims.

Des Moines – January 22, 2018 – The Iowa Restaurant Association is asking state lawmakers to pass insurance reform that would make it possible for restaurant and tavern operators to secure better policies to help compensate innocent victims if an intoxicated person causes harm and the restaurant or bar is held partially responsible.

Called “DRAM” insurance, in Iowa this coverage requirement is unique to those who “sell and serve” alcohol such as restaurants and bars. There is no similar requirement for those who “sell” unopened alcohol such as box stores, pharmacies, grocery, and convenience stores.

“We are the only segment of the industry which is held responsible for the behavior of others,” said Jessica Dunker, president and CEO of the Iowa Restaurant Association, the group spearheading the proposed changes. “We understand we have a unique relationship with patrons and as such we’re willing to carry the extra coverage, but we also have to have access to affordable policies.”

According to Dunker, Iowa ranks 46th in the nation in “insurability” for DRAM. “That’s a pretty unattractive marketplace,” says Dunker. She points to the rankings from ISO, an organization that provides actuarial and other information about property/casualty insurance risk. This data is used by insurance carriers to select markets and set rates.

“The way Iowa’s laws are written today, it’s nearly impossible for them to determine their risk,” says Dunker. “If I was an insurance carrier, I’d think twice about writing DRAM policies in Iowa too.”

As a result, Iowa restaurants and bars can often find only one carrier willing to offer the insurance, resulting in high-cost, low-coverage policies. “I know of one operator who has a $150,000 policy that he pays $40,000 per year for,” said Dunker. “This is particularly tough for border businesses who simply can’t compete with their counterparts in other states.”

The Association hopes their proposed changes will bring Iowa’s DRAM insurance grade in line with surrounding states. “Nearly anything would be better than what we have today,” said Dunker.

The Iowa Restaurant Association will be meeting with legislators this week to discuss their proposed changes. A copy of their proposed bill can be found here.

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Iowa Restaurant Association
The Iowa Restaurant Association provides advocacy, education and promotional support to Iowa’s restaurant and tavern industry. www.restaurantiowa.com

Media Contact:
Katelyn Kostek
Public Relations Specialist
kkostek@restaurantiowa.com
515-276-1454

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January 18, 2018

Restaurant Group Warns Against Lowering Drunken-Driving Threshold

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January 18, 2018
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January 16, 2018

Ignition Interlocks Will Soon Feature Cameras to Monitor Convicted Drunk Drivers

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January 16, 2018
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January 15, 2018

Technology Leads People to Restaurants, But Can Frustrate Their Experience

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January 15, 2018
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Technology may be an increasingly important tool for getting guests to walk through the doors of a restaurant, but consumers still prefer the “human touch” once they arrive.

Des Moines – January 15, 2018 – Research from the National Restaurant Association reveals that having the ability to view an online menu before choosing a restaurant was the difference maker for 60% of patrons looking for restaurants.  Millennials were even higher with 74% citing access to an online menu as the primary factor when opting for one restaurant over another, and 68% of Gen Xers and 50% of baby boomers saying the same.  Additionally, the ability to read online reviews is important to all ages with nearly six in 10 adults saying this was a key decision maker when picking a restaurant.

However, once that decision is made, most patrons prefer to interact with people. Nearly half of consumers surveyed said technology can complicate restaurant visits and ordering. In fact, 74% said the inability to ask questions can detract from their restaurant visit or ordering experience.

“Given the demographics and culture of our state, most Iowa restaurants are taking a blended approach to integrating technology,” said Jessica Dunker, president and CEO of the Iowa Restaurant Association.  “Even Mom-and-Pop Shops are taking strides to be intentional about their online presence, but the importance of real people making patrons feel welcome and cared for in the hospitality industry can never be replaced by a smart phone or tableside tablet.”

Results cited from the National Restaurant Association’s Technology Consumer Survey.

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Iowa Restaurant Association
The Iowa Restaurant Association provides advocacy, education and promotional support to Iowa’s restaurant and tavern industry. www.restaurantiowa.com

Media Contact:
Katelyn Kostek
Public Relations Specialist
kkostek@restaurantiowa.com
515-276-1454

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January 8, 2018

Iowa Restaurants Well Positioned to Take Advantage of Hottest Culinary Trend in 2018

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January 8, 2018
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Des Moines – January 8, 2018 – Iowa restaurants are well positioned to be on the cutting edge of 2018’s top culinary concept according to the Iowa Restaurant Association. A recent survey of top chefs found that 74% consider “hyper-local” restaurant concepts – including those with onsite beer brewing, house-made items and even restaurant gardens – to be the top culinary concept trend for 2018.

“Living in the heart of the nation’s breadbasket means Iowa restaurateurs can literally look out their windows, and find local ingredients,” said Jessica Dunker, president and CEO of the Iowa Restaurant Association. “Other top trends also name simplicity, back to the basics and farm-branded items as top concept trends which are our state’s culinary wheelhouse.”

The National Restaurant Association surveyed 700 American Culinary Federation members in October – November 2017, asking them to rate 161 items as a “hot trend,” “yesterday’s news,” or “perennial favorite” on menus in 2018.

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Iowa Restaurant Association 
The Iowa Restaurant Association provides advocacy, education and promotional support to Iowa’s restaurant and tavern industry. www.restaurantiowa.com

Media Contact:
Katelyn Kostek
Public Relations Specialist
kkostek@restaurantiowa.com
515-276-1454

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December 15, 2017

National Spending Trends Mean Good Things for Des Moines’ Food Scene

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December 15, 2017
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October 31, 2017

Chef Competition Combines Beef and Soy to Create Culinary Masterpieces

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October 31, 2017
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October 31, 2017 – Des Moines, IA – Earlier this month, the Iowa Restaurant Association, along with The Soyfoods Council and the Iowa Beef Industry Council, set a new standard for unique proteins on a plate. The Iowa Restaurant Association’s 2017 Culinary Competition challenged top chefs across Iowa to create an entrée featuring beef flank steak and a soy based side dish or sauce. The two unexpected Iowa products combined to create an exemplary event which showcased the versatility of both beef and soy in a wide variety of dishes.

“These award-winning creations span ethnic, fine dining, and casual palates,” said Linda Funk, Executive Director of The Soyfoods Council. “This speaks highly to not only the creativity and professionalism of the chefs, but the adaptability of the products to any style of cuisine.”

Results and Winning Dishes
1st Place – Chef Jason Culbertson, The Hotel Julien, Dubuque
Recipe: Korean BBQ Beef Flank Steak with Soy Mushrooms Over Miso Ginger Butternut Squash

2nd Place – Chef Wallace Franklin Jr., The Whiskey House & Bourbon Grill, Ankeny
Recipe: Beef Flank Steak Tartare with Smoked Tofu Foam

People’s Choice – Chef Oscar Hernandez, 712 Eat + Drink, Council Bluffs
Recipe: Beef Flank Steak and Frites with a Chili Tofu Mayo

Event Recap
The chefs first presented their dishes to a team of judges who traveled to each competitors’ restaurant to taste and score their creations. Judges included Chef Robert Anderson CEC-CCE, Executive Chef and Program Chair at the Iowa Culinary Institute, Des Moines Foodster Blogger Nick Lucs, and representatives from event sponsors The Soyfoods Council and the Iowa Beef Industry Council.

The chefs then prepared sample-sized portions of their dish for nearly 300 attendees at a People’s Choice event held at The Atrium at Capital Square in Des Moines on Oct. 5. Awards and cash prizes were given to the winner, runner-up, and People’s Choice winner.

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About The Soyfoods Council
The Soyfoods Council is a non-profit organization, created and funded by Iowa soybean farmers, providing a complete resource to increase awareness of soyfoods, educate and inform media, healthcare professionals, consumers and the retail and foodservice market about the many benefits of soyfoods. Iowa is the country’s number one grower of soybeans and is the Soyfoods Capital of the world. www.thesoyfoodscouncil.com

About the Iowa Beef Industry Council
The Iowa Beef Industry Council is funded by the $1-per-head National Beef Checkoff Program and the $0.50-per-head Iowa State Beef Checkoff. Checkoff dollars are invested in beef promotion, consumer information, research, industry information and foreign market development, all with the purpose of strengthening beef demand. For more information, visit www.iabeef.org.

About the Iowa Restaurant Association
The Iowa Restaurant Association is an advocacy organization supporting Iowa’s industry with educational and promotional programs across the state. www.restraurantiowa.com

Media Contact:
Katelyn Kostek
Public Relations Specialist
Iowa Restaurant Association
kkostek@restaurantiowa.com
515-276-1454

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September 25, 2017

Cedar Rapids Restaurant Owner/Operator Named American Dream Award Winner

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September 25, 2017
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September 25, 2017 – Cedar Rapids, IA – Via Sofia’s Italian Kitchen Owner/Operator John Khairallah has been selected as the first ever Iowa Restaurant Association American Dream Award winner. Khairallah will be recognized at an award ceremony at the Temple for Performing Arts in downtown Des Moines on October 5th. This award honors an individual who has had to overcome significant obstacles in order to achieve their goals in the restaurant industry.

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Iowa Restaurant Association
The Iowa Restaurant Association is an advocacy organization supporting Iowa’s restaurant and bar industry with educational and promotional programs across the state.

Media Contact:
Katelyn Kostek
Public Relations Specialist
kkostek@restaurantiowa.com
515-276-1454