National Restaurant Association

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Learn more about corporations VOTING to rewrite our laws.

The National Restaurant Association (NRA) is a trade association for the $600 billion [1] restaurant industry and has an annual revenue of over $91 million, according to its 2011 Form 990. [2] The NRA has been a major force in keeping the federal tipped minimum wage at $2.13 for restaurant workers for 20 years. As discussed below, the NRA and its member companies represent a lobbying powerhouse working against state minimum wage increases and paid sick leave for workers.

The NRA has 53 state restaurant affiliates, and operates a nonprofit arm, the National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation, out of Chicago, which has an annual budget of over $4.3 million. [2]

With nearly 750 employees, the group represents 500,000 restaurant businesses. [1] The NRA has 177 corporate restaurant members representing the dominant players in this global industry, [3] and other members including supplier companies, faculty and students in hospitality education, and nonprofits “such as state hospitals, state health care facilities, state schools, state prisons, military foodservice establishments, etc.” [4] Its members include nine Fortune 500 corporations, seven Fortune 100 corporations, and one Global 500 corporation. The NRA’s most recognizable members include industry giants like McDonald's, YUM! Brands (the owner of Taco Bell and KFC), Disney, and Darden Restaurants (the owner of Red Lobster, Olive Garden, and Capital Grille).[5]

Partisan Politics in the 2014 Election Cycle

The NRA spent $1,284,500 on the 2014 midterms; 75 percent went to Republican candidates and committees.[6]

In a press release, CEO and President Dawn Sweeney hailed the results, focusing on the fact that the GOP-dominated Senate would push for lower taxes and reduced health care benefits: "Congratulations to Senator Mitch McConnell and to all the candidates who won victories in yesterday's Midterm elections. The result of this year's elections are critical to the business community - and the restaurant association - on key issues including health care, tax reform and creating a regulatory environment that creates opportunities for businesses to grow."[7]

Budget and Lobbying

The NRA reported having 37 lobbyists on staff in 2013, including 27 revolving door lobbyists who previously worked in Congress or the executive branch

According to the NRA’s 990 filing with the IRS, the organization generated $91.4 million in revenue and spent $26.3 million in 2011. [8]

According to Open Secrets, the NRA spent $2.2 million on lobbying in 2013 and $2.7 million on lobbying in 2012.[9] Top issues for lobbying were taxes, labor and workplace, healthcare, and tourism. [10] [11] Lobbying figures from the NRA does not account for lobbying expenditures or activities by the NRA's individual members. Besides its 37 reported in house lobbyists, the NRA also hired outside lobbyists in 2013, including Capitol Tax Partners, K&L Gates, Mehlman Vogel Castagnettie Inc., and Prime Policy Group. [12]

However, the NRA’s reported lobbying figures significantly underestimates the lobbying that it actually engages in, thanks to loopholes in lobbying registration and disclosure laws, which Lee Fang of The Nation has described as “shadow lobbying.”

Fang writes:

"In the weeks before fast-food workers earning less than $8 an hour began a wave of walkout strikes across the country in December, the National Restaurant Association, a lobbying group for eateries like McDonald’s and Burger King dedicated to blocking efforts to raise the minimum wage, moved into a swanky new office space on L Street to accommodate its 20 percent growth in staff operations. But even though the National Restaurant Association’s staff and spending have grown, the organization reported its lowest lobbying figures since 2007 on its latest forms." [13]

NRA member companies also spent millions of dollars on lobbying in 2013. Big spenders included McDonald's ($2.3 million); Starbucks ($2.2 million); Darden Restaurants, the parent company of restaurant chains including Red Lobster and Olive Garden ($1.3 million); Dunkin' Brands ($950,000); and YUM! Brands, the parent company of Taco Bell, KFC, and Pizza Hut ($690,000).[14]

Political Contributions

2012 NRA Contributions.png

According to the Sunlight Foundation’s Influence Explorer, the NRA has given $14,892,704 to political candidates since 1989, with 76% going to Republicans and 15% going to Democrats. [15] Top recipients include Heather Wilson (R-NM), John Kline (R-NM), Anne Northrup (R-KY), and John Boehner (R-OH).

In 2012, the top 20 recipients of NRA money were all Republicans (each receiving $10,000 or more) and 19 out of the 20 were men. [16] During the 2012 cycle, the NRA gave $681,000 (83%) to Republican candidates compared to $136,750 to Democratic candidates. These figures do not account for political contributions from any of the NRA’s individual members.

According to Follow the Money, the NRA contributed $1 million to state candidates from 2003 to 2012 and NRA subsidiaries contributed another $1.2 million.[17]

The NRA’s biggest PAC contribution, according to the Sunlight Foundation, was a $300,000 donation to the Coalition to Save Florida Jobs in 2004, when that PAC was fighting against a minimum wage increase in the state. [18] The second-biggest PAC contribution ($293,000) went to the Republican Party of Florida; the NRA gave $160,080 during the 2011-2012 period, just before the legislature pushed a bill to preempt and block paid sick day legislation. It also contributed $50,000 in October 2006 to Respect Colorado’s Constitution, a political committee fighting to keep the state from raising the minimum wage. [19]

Ties to the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC)

The NRA is a member of ALEC.[20] According to the NRA’s 990 filling with the IRS, they gave $7,000 to ALEC in 2011. At ALEC’s Annual Meeting in August 2011, Stan Harris, president and CEO of the Louisiana NRA affiliate, was a speaker at the Labor and Business Regulation Subcommittee meeting, and legislators were handed a target list and map of state and local paid sick days policies prepared by the NRA.

About ALEC
ALEC is a corporate bill mill. It is not just a lobby or a front group; it is much more powerful than that. Through ALEC, corporations hand state legislators their wishlists to benefit their bottom line. Corporations fund almost all of ALEC's operations. They pay for a seat on ALEC task forces where corporate lobbyists and special interest reps vote with elected officials to approve “model” bills. Learn more at the Center for Media and Democracy's, and check out breaking news on our site.

NRA Denounces Common Sense NLRB Ruling -- If You Work at McDonald's, You Work for McDonald's

On July 28, 2014 the general counsel of the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) ruled that McDonald's is a joint employer and authorized complaints in 43 cases against McDonald's.[21] The ruling means that McDonald's "could be held jointly liable for labor and wage violations by its franchise operators," according to the New York Times,[22] and may also "give employees more leverage to unionize."[23] McDonald's has stated that it would appeal the ruling, while trade groups including the NRA and the National Retail Federation denounced the ruling as harmful to businesses. An NRA spokesperson said, "The net effect is counterproductive and will indeed create ‘big business.'"[23]

Opposition to Paid Sick Days

In recent years, the NRA has fought hard against new laws and regulations on paid sick days , which would allow workers to stay at home when sick without risking their paycheck or their job. The NRA has called paid sick days fights a “hot button issue for the restaurant industry.” [24]

Forty percent of all workers do not have paid sick days; existing federal law covers only employees working 25 hours or more at businesses with at least 50 workers, applies only to serious and not routine illnesses, and is unpaid. [25]

Bills to block local governments from allowing workers to earn paid sick days have been introduced in at least 14 different state legislatures across the country; in most cases, the NRA has played a role in pushing the legislation. These bills are designed to preempt local governments or voters from enacting paid sick days ordinances.

The preemption concept was promulgated in August 2011 at an ALEC meeting in New Orleans. Legislators attending a meeting of the ALEC Labor and Business Regulation Subcommittee were handed a copy of a bill that had passed in Wisconsin months earlier, thanks to a lobbying effort by the Chamber and restaurant industry. The bill preempted any local paid sick day laws, and overturned a Milwaukee paid sick days ordinance that had passed with nearly 70 percent of the vote in 2008.

Stan Harris, president and CEO of the Louisiana NRA affiliate, was a speaker at the meeting, and legislators were handed a target list and map of state and local paid sick days policies prepared by the NRA. After that meeting, similar paid sick days preemption bills spread across the country, in most cases introduced and co-sponsored by ALEC member legislators.

  • Alabama: the Alabama Restaurant Association is pushing a preemption bill to stop local paid sick days ordinances.[26]
  • Arizona: Arizona media reported that the restaurant industry is behind preemption bill.[27] The Arizona Restaurant Association testified in support of the bill.[28]
  • Colorado: The NRA contributed $100,000 to Keep Denver Competitive, a business coalition formed specifically to fight a paid sick days ballot measure. [29]
  • Connecticut: the Connecticut Restaurant Association lobbied vigorously against a paid sick days law passed in 2011.[30]
  • Florida: the preemption bill was written with the help of Darden, the parent company for Olive Garden and Red Lobster.[31]
  • Indiana: the Indiana Restaurant and Lodging Association pushed to pass the preemption bill.[32]
  • Kansas: the Kansas Restaurant & Hospitality Association (KRHA) wrote a letter to governor asking him to support preemption bill.[33]
  • Louisiana: the Louisiana Restaurant Association gave $2,750 to preemption bill sponsor. The LRA is a sponsor of ALEC and the LRA CEO spoke at the ALEC meeting in 2011 where a preemption model bill was distributed.[34]
  • Michigan: The Michigan Restaurant Association commended passage of preemption legislation in the House[35]and testified in favor in a Senate hearing.[36]
  • Mississippi: while there is no confirmed link to the restaurant industry, the bill’s sponsor[37] on preemption, Representative Turner is a confirmed member of ALEC and has received campaign donations from ALEC.[38]
  • Oklahoma: State Senate sponsor for paid sick days and minimum wage preemption bill[39] received campaign donations from the Oklahoma Restaurant Association.[40]
  • South Carolina: The sponsor of a state preemption bill[41]has been on multiple ALEC committees.[42][43]
  • Tennessee: Tennessee Hospitality Association worked to pass preemption bill.[44] Sponsors of the bill received campaign donations from Tennessee Hospitality Association (log in required on TN web page).
  • Washington: the Washington Restaurant Association fought against the Seattle paid sick days ordinance.[45]
  • Wisconsin: the Wisconsin Restaurant Association worked to help pass preemption bill against paid sick days.[46]

In April 2011, the NRA created a Restaurant Advocacy Fund to provide a rapid response capability to state-level initiatives it opposes, including bringing paid sick days to employees. [47] Scott DeFife, the NRA’s Executive Vice President for Policy and Government Affairs, has said that the Restaurant Advocacy Fund will be used to challenge “an increasing number of complex issues that threaten restaurants’ bottom-line.” [48]

State (Year) Bill(s) ALEC Member Sponsors Status
WI (2011) AB 41/SB 23 Kapenga, Stone, Honadel; Vukmir, Grothman, Darling, Lazich Enacted 2011
LA (2012) SB 521 Enacted 2012
AL (2013) HB 628 Died
AZ (2013) HB 2280 Forese Enacted 4/29/13
FL (2013) HB 655/SB 726 Precourt, Mayfield; Simmons Enacted 6/14/13
IN (2013) SB 213 Enacted 4/25/13
KS (2013) HB 2069 Commerce, Labor, Econ Development Committee Chair Marvin Kleeb Enacted 4/16/13
MI (2013) HB 4249/SB 173 Lori; M. Green, Meekhoff, Robertson, M. Kowall Passed House & Senate committees, no floor votes yet
MS (2013) HB 141 Turner Enacted 3/25/13
OK (2013) SB 1023 Died
SC (2013) H 3941 Sandifer, Harrell, Bannister Passed House 4/30/13, died
TN (2013) HB 501/SB 35 Kelsey, White, Lynn Enacted 4/16/13
WA (2013) SB 5728 Padden, Bailey, Benton Died
WA (2013) HB 1781/SB 5726 Bailey, Padden, Benton Reintroduced and retained in present status May 13
WA (2013) SB 5159 Bailey, Padden; Becker, Carrell (deceased), Parlette, Holmquist Reintroduced and retained in present status May 13

Opposition to Minimum Wage Increases

Thanks to the legislative efforts of the NRA, the tipped minimum wage has remained at $2.13 per hour since 1991

The National Restaurant Association has continually fought against proposed increases to the minimum wage. In the 1990s, it helped persaude Congress to set the minimum wage for tipped workers at just $2.13 an hour, where it has stayed for decades.

  • Federal (2014): the NRA opposes increasing the national minimum wage to $10.10, which was proposed in the Minimum Wage Fairness Act bill authored by Senator Tom Harkin and Representative George Miller and supported by President Obama.[49]
  • Oklahoma (2014): the Oklahoma Restaurant Association supported 2014 SB 1023, which prevents municipalities from establishing a local minimum wage or minimum number of sick days.[50] Oklahoma Restaurant Association President and CEO Jim Hopper supported the bill, saying the "(minimum wage is) a state-level issue...It’s not something that should be done by municipalities...If (restaurants) have to deal with each city having a different minimum wage, then they would face a payroll nightmare."[51]
  • Colorado (2006): NRA contributed $173,000 the Hospitality Issues PAC (HIPAC) and $50,000 to Respect Colorado's Constitution, the two committees opposed to increasing Colorado's minimum wage.[52] Amendment 42 increased Colorado's minimum wage from $5.15 to $6.85 per hour and indexed it to inflation. Respect Colorado's Constitution spent $1.5 million against the minimum wage increase and HIPAC spent another $1.06 million.[53] The Colorado Restaurant Association contributed $1.0 million to Respect Colorado's Constitution and $449,000 to HIPAC, making it the largest financial opponent to the minimum wage increase.[54] Amendment 42 was passed by 53% of Colorado voters.
  • Arizona (2006): NRA donated $170,000 to No on 202 Opposed to I-13-2006 (also known as Jobs First Against I-13-2006).[55] This committee spent $1.1 million in opposition to Arizona Proposition 202, a ballot initiative which increased the state minimum wage from $5.15 to $6.75 per hour, with an annual cost of living increase.[56]Arizona voters approved the measure with 65% voting in favor.[57]Other large donors to No on 202 Opposed to I-13-2006 included the Arizona Chamber of Commerce ($121,000), Arizona Restaurant & Hospitality Association ($117,400), and Outback Steakhouse ($90,000).[58]
  • Ohio (2006): the NRA contributed $100,000 to Ohioans to Protect Personal Privacy.[59]This committee spent $1.8 million against 2006 Issue 2, which increased the minimum wage to $6.85 per hour and indexed it to inflation.[60] The minimum wage increase passed with 57% of the vote. Other large donors to Ohioans to Protect Personal Privacy included the National Federation of Independent Businesses ($245,000), Northeastern Ohio McDonald's Advertising Association ($107,000), Outback Steakhouse ($75,000), and Procter & Gamble ($75,000).[61]
  • Nevada (2006): the NRA gave $50,000 to Nix 6 - Nevadans Against Question 6.[62] Question 6 raised the Nevada minimum wage to $5.15 per hour if the employer provides health benefits or $6.15 per hour if the employer does not, with an annual cost of living adjustment.[63] Nix 6 spent $361,325 to oppose the increase and was also funded by 7-Eleven ($45,250), Outback Steakhouse ($30,000), and Jack in the Box ($30,000).
  • Missouri (2006): the NRA contributed $40,000 to Save Our State's Jobs, [64] which campaigned against Missouri's Proposition B. Proposition B increased the state's minimum wage to $6.50 per hour and indexed it to inflation and was passed by 76% of voters.[65] Save our State's Jobs raised a total of $149,900, with other large contributors including Outback Steakhouse ($30,000), Darden Restaurants subsidiary GMRI ($25,000), and McDonald's of Metro St. Louis ($16,800).[66]
  • Montana (2006): the NRA donated $20,000 to the Coalition Against Continual Price Increases: No on I-151. [67] This group spent $99,715 against I-151, which raised Montana's minimum wage from $5.15 per hour to $6.15 per hour and indexed it to inflation, and was approved by 73% of voters.[68]
  • Florida (2004): the NRA contributed $300,000 to the Coalition to Save Florida Jobs, [69] a business-funded group which opposed an increase to the state's minimum wage. The Coalition raised $4.1 million, with other large contributors including Publix Supermarkets ($500,000), Outback Steakhouse ($400,000), Darden Restaurants subsidiary GMRI ($300,000), Florida Retail Federation ($160,000), Florida Restaurant Association ($110,000), Florida Chamber of Commerce ($100,425), Burger King ($100,000), CVS ($100,000), Walgreens ($100,000) and the Walt Disney Company ($100,000).[70]

Opposition to Nutrition Labeling

In 2011, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) proposed regulations for national standards for nutrition labeling on menus.[71] Restaurant food is often high saturated fats, trans fat, salt and calories.[72] The NRA has fought numerous efforts to introduce calorie and fat content labeling on restaurant menus, defeating thirteen nutrition-labeling bills introduced in eleven states and two cities (Washington, D.C. and Philadelphia).[72] To help in this effort, the NRA offered an "Obesity Issue Kit" that included model legislation, op-ed articles, talking points and other resources designed to assist states in passing legislation and to shield the industry.[72]

In 2012, ALEC adopted a “model” act to preempt local governments from enacting nutrition labeling requirements. [73]

When New York State attempted to establish menu labeling requirements, the NRA sued the state government.[5]

Public Relations: Rick Berman, and Employment Policies Institute

Rick Berman

The NRA operates the National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation (NRAEF), which is set up as the association’s “educational arm.”[74] In 2010, the NRA announced strategic partnership with Nation’s Restaurant News, the main source for business intelligence in the restaurant industry.[75] The NRN regularly carries articles on industry efforts to turn back paid sick days requirements,[76][77] minimum wage initiatives and legislation,[78] healthcare reform, and employee organizing rights.[79] Richard Berman, the prominent anti-union public relations operative who represents restaurant chains, [80] [81] has written a column for years in Nation’s Restaurant News.

Berman also is president and CEO of the Employment Policies Institute (EPI), which pushes NRA-favored policies like opposition to minimum wage increases and paid sick days. EPI is a Berman front group that writes articles in opposition to higher wages and paid sick leave nationwide, posing as an academic think tank. National Journal has described EPI as “another new think tank with even closer ties to industry…started in 1992 by a group of restaurant companies that wanted an alternative source of research on labor issues.” [82] According to the National Journal, in 1995 EPI got “95% of its budget from corporate sources—primarily restaurateurs and retailers.” [83] EPI operates from the same address (1090 Vermont Ave. NW, Suite 800, Washington, D.C. 20005) [84] as Berman and Company, the PR firm owned by Rick Berman. [85]

Other Policies

In addition to trying to block paid sick days initiatives, the NRA’s current top advocacy issues include repealing the new national health care law, fighting the Department of Labor’s new tip credit notification regulations, [86] [87] and opposing Restaurant Opportunities Centers United (ROC-United), a national restaurant workers’ organization headquartered in New York.” A January 2014 meeting report provided to Salon revealed that the NRA’s Jobs & Careers Committee and its Restaurant PAC both “recommended that the Restaurant Advocacy Fund provide $600,000 in additional support for the ongoing project to combat the tactics of the Restaurant Opportunities Centers, or ROC, and the new industry reputational campaign.”[88]

The NRA has also weighed in on regulations they think will affect their bottom line -- for example, they sought an exemption from the requirement that they provide adequate space in their restaurants for nursing mothers. [89]

The NRA also opposes limitations on the marketing of junk food to children, and regulation of sodium, sugar, and trans-fats in processed foods.[90] The NRA called New York City’s legislative ban on trans fats in processed foods “misguided social engineering” despite the fact that the American Heart Association recommends that trans fat intake, which increases the risk of Type 2 diabetes and stroke, be limited to naturally occurring sources, leaving “virtually no room at all for industrially manufactured trans fats.”[5]

Opposition to the Affordable Care Act

The NRA has opposed the Affordable Care Act, claiming in 2010 that it "would severely and negatively impact restaurants by weakening the small business exemption, increasing penalties on employers, and imposing onerous administrative burdens on the industry."[91] The NRA has often presented its arguments as representative of small business owners. For example, its representative to a 2013 U.S. House of Representatives hearing on the ACA's effects on businesses, Tom Boucher, introduced himself as "an independent restauranteur" who got his start as a server with the company he now heads.[92] Boucher's testimony concluded that "the law cannot stand as it is today given the challenges employers such as restaurant and foodservice operators face in implementing it," highlighting new taxes and reporting requirements as particularly onerous.

In July 2014, the NRA pushed a bill that would end auto-enrollment for employees of large businesses, opposing auto-enrollment as too burdensome for employers. NRA co-signed a letter by the Retail Industry Leaders Association advocating the change. NRA spokeperson Scott DeFife said, "As it stands, the auto-enrollment requirement will have damaging impacts on both restaurant owners and their employees—leaving much misinterpretation for employees about their decision on coverage and creating additional administrative burdens for employers."[93]

Opposition to New York City Soda Regulation

In September 2012, then-mayor of New York City Michael Bloomberg enacted rules setting a maximum size of 16 ounces for sweetened beverages like soda and flavored coffee drinks. Bloomberg presented the measure as part of an anti-obesity campaign, as the New York Times reported.[94] The NRA opposed the "beverage ban," citing "customer confusion and operational difficulties" if the rules went into effect.[95] The NRA joined a lawsuit against the regulation,[96] and in June 2014 it was struck down by the New York Court of Appeals. The NRA hailed the decision as "a victory for the city’s restaurants and suppliers."</ref>Ron Ruggless, "High court refuses to reinstate New York big-soda ban," June 26, 2014. Accessed July 31, 2014.</ref>


  • Dawn Sweeney - President and CEO, formerly President and CEO of AARP Services, the taxable subsidiary of the AARP.[97] According to the NRA 990 filings with the IRS, the organization paid Ms. Sweeney $2.2 million in total compensation in 2011.
  • Marvin Irby - CFO,[98] formerly with Shawmut Design & Construction, Walt Disney Word, and PepsiCo.[99] According to the NRA 990 filings with the IRS, the organization paid Mr. Irby $507,000 in total compensation, in 2011.
  • Scott DeFife - Executive Vice President for Policy & Government Affairs, formerly Government Affairs for the Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association (SIFMA), former staffer for Congressman Steny Hoyer (D-MD), Congressman Bart Gordon (D-TN), Congresswoman Karen McCarthy (D-MO), and Congressman Mike Andrews.[100]
  • Sue Hensley - Senior Vice President of Public Affairs and Communications, formerly Chief Spokesperson of the Small Business Administration, Office of Public Affairs at the U.S. Department of Labor, and Spokesperson to Senator Tim Hutchinson (R-AR).[101] According to the NRA 990 filings with the IRS, the organization paid Ms. Hensley $337,360 in total compensation in 2011.
  • David Matthews - Chief Legal Counsel, formerly senior vice president for technology and operations of the Federal Home Loan Bank of Chicago and president and chief operating officer of RBC Mortgage Company.[102] According to the NRA 990 filings with the IRS, the organization paid Mr. Matthews $362,008 in total compensation in 2011.
  • Brendan J. Flanagan -- Vice President of Government Relations. Also on the executive committee of the Chamber-led Coalition for a Democratic Workplace, created to counter the union-backed Employee Free Choice Act. [103]

Worker Pay Gap


In 2012, the Economic Policy Institute released a report on the growing income inequality between company executives and their employees.[104] From 1978 to 2011, worker annual compensation rose 5.7%. But the annual income of CEO’s over the same time period rose 726.7%.

According to estimates released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics in early 2012, the annual wage for waiters was bartenders was $20,710 and $21,630. Top pay in the industry is earned by chefs at $46,570.[105]

Source: National Employment Law Project, “Super-Sizing Public Costs - How Low Wages at Top Fast-Food Chains Leave Taxpayers Footing the Bill,” October 2013 [106]

Comparing these employee salaries to annual compensation of Dawn Sweeney, the CEO of the National Restaurant Association:

  • NRA CEO-to-waiter compensation equals 106-to-1
  • NRA CEO-to-bartender compensation equals 102-to-1
  • NRA CEO-to-chef compensation equals 47-to-1.

The following numbers are from the EPI 2012 report:

  • $660.5 billion: Restaurant-industry sales projected for 2013.
  • 980,000: Number of restaurant locations in the United States.
  • 4%: Restaurant-industry sales share of the U.S. gross domestic product.
  • $1.8 billion: Restaurant-industry sales on a typical day in 2013.
  • 13.1 million: Number of restaurant-industry employees.
  • 47%: Restaurant-industry share of the food dollar.
  • 93%: Percentage of eating and drinking places with fewer than 50 employees.

Public Assistance for Restaurant Employees

Nearly 60 percent of the $600 billion restaurant industry's employees are low-wage workers and over half of the nation's fast food workers relies on at least one form of public assistance.[107] The National Employment Law Project estimates that the public assistance provided to fast-food workers costs taxpayers at least $3.8 billion a year and taxpayers fund McDonald’s employees to the tune of $1.2 billion a year in public assistance.

An April 2014 study by the Institute for Policy Studies noted the huge disparity between pay of CEOs and employees noting, "During the past two years, the CEOs of the 20 largest NRA members pocketed more than $662 million in fully deductible “performance pay,” lowering their companies’ IRS bills by an estimated $232 million. That would be enough to cover the cost of food stamps for more than 145,000 households for a year."[108] Sarah Anderson, a co-author of the study said, "These restaurant CEOs aren’t the only executives gorging on taxpayer-subsidized bonuses...But their pay practices deserve extra scrutiny because of the high social costs of this industry’s low-wage model — a model they’re seeking to preserve by fighting minimum wage increases."[109]

History with Tobacco

According to a study published in the British Medical Journal, the tobacco industry often used groups such as the NRA to act as fronts for tobacco interests.[110] For instance, in 2000, Philip Morris sent a letter to the NRA regarding a program to create ventilated interiors instead of smoke-free restaurants. The letter mentions a

$250,000 check from Philip Morris to the NRA.[111]

A search of the Legacy Tobacco Documents Library at the University of California-San Francisco finds over 6,000 documents that reference the NRA.[112]

Herman Cain Controversies

Herman Cain

From 1996-1999, the NRA was led by Herman Cain. When he ran for President in 2012, controversies swirled about his tenure at the association, including charges of sexual harassment and overspending. Mr. Cain alleged that the sexual harassment leaks were coming from an opponent in the race.[113]

Former employees told Bloomberg News that Cain’s work-related outings involved heavy drinking, lavish spending and large expenses, angering some board members.[113] The NRA released a statement confirming that they agreed to a settlement with one employee regarding allegations that Mr. Cain sexually harassed her.[114]

Member Companies Listed on the NRA Website as of January 2014

7-Eleven, Inc.
AFC Enterprises dba Popeyes
All American Specialty Restaurants
American Food & Vending
AmRest Applebee's LLC
Anthony's Coal Fire Pizza
ARAMARK Corporation
Arby's Restaurants
Arby's/U.S. Beef
Beef O' Brady's Family Sports Concepts Inc.
Benihana Inc.
Bennigan's Franchising Co
Big Boy Restaurants International
Bloomin' Brands, Inc.
Bob Evans Farms, Inc.
Bojangles' Restaurants, Inc.
Boston Pizza Restaurants, LP
Bravo/Brio Restaurant Group
Brinker International
Buffalo Wild Wings, Inc.
Buffalo Wings & Rings LLC
Buffets, Inc.
Burger King Corporation
Cajun Operating Company
Cameron Mitchell Restaurants
Carlson Restaurants Worldwide TGI Friday's Inc.
Checkers Drive-In Restaurants, Inc
Chick-fil-A, Inc.
CiCi Enterprises
Compass Group
Compass Group
Concessions International
Connor Concepts Corporate Office The Chop House
Corner Bakery Cafe
Cousins Submarines, Inc.
Cracker Barrel Old Country Store, Inc.
CraftWorks Restaurants and Breweries, Inc.
Culver Franchising System, Inc.
Darden Restaurants, Inc.
Dave & Buster's
Delaware North Companies, Inc.
Domino's Pizza, Inc.
Donatos Pizza
Dunkin' Brands, Inc.
The Dussin Group dba The Old Spaghetti Factory
Einstein Noah Restaurant Group, Inc.
Elmer's Restaurants, Inc.
Emeril's Restaurant
Famous Dave's of America
Fired Up, Inc.
Firehouse Subs of America, LLC
First Watch Restaurants
Focus Brands, Inc/Roark Capital Group
Food Concepts International, Inc. dba Abuelo's Mexican Food Embassy
Friendly's Ice Cream Corp.
Frisch's Restaurants, Inc.
Gosh Enterprises / Charley's Grilled Subs
Ground Round I.O.C.
Guest Services, Inc.
Hard Rock International, Inc.
The HBH Franchise Company, LLC HoneyBaked Ham Co. and Cafe
Heart of America Restaurants & Inns
Hooters of America, Inc.
Huddle House, Inc.
Hyatt Hotels Corporate Office
In The Sauce Brands, Inc.
In-N-Out Burger
International Dairy Queen
Investors Management Corporation Golden Corral
Jackmont Hospitality, Inc.
Jamba Juice Company
Kolache Factory, Inc.
Krispy Kreme Doughnut Corporation
The Krystal Company
La Rosa's, Inc.
Landry's Restaurants, Inc
Le Duff America
Ledo Pizza System Inc.
Lettuce Entertain You
Little Caesar's Enterprises, Inc.
Logan's Roadhouse, Inc.
Long John Silver's, LLC
Luby's Restaurants
Macy's Food Division 1143
Mainstreet Ventures, Inc.
Marriott International
Mazzio's Corporation
McCormick & Schmick Management
McDonald's Corporation
Melting Pot Restaurants
Morton's of Chicago National Headquarters
Mr. Goodcents Franchise Systems, Inc.
Noodles & Company
Nordstrom Restaurant Division
O'Charley's, Inc.
Original Pancake House Franchising Inc.
Panera, LLC
Papa Gino's, Inc.
Papa John's International Inc.
Papa Murphy's International, Inc.
Pappas Restaurants
Perkins & Marie Callender's, Inc
PF Chang's China Bistro
Phillips Food, Inc.
Piccadilly Cafeterias Inc.
Pita Pit USA
Pizza Fusion Holdings
Plamondon Enterprises, Inc.
Platinum Corral, LLC
Potbelly Sandwich Works
Quaker Steak & Lube Best Wings USA Inc
Quizno's Master LLC
Raising Cane's
Red Robin International
Romacorp, Inc.
Rosati's Pizza
Ruby Tuesday, Inc
Salsarita's Franchising, LLC
Sbarro, Inc.
Select Restaurants, Inc.
Shari's Management Corporation
Smashburger Master LLC
Smith & Sons Foods, Inc.
Sodexo, Inc.
Sonic Industries, Inc.
Sonny's Real Pit Bar-B-Q
Starbucks Coffee Company
Stockade Companies
Subway Sandwiches and Salads
Taco John's International, Inc.
Taco Mayo Franchise Sys., Inc.
Ted's Montana Grill LLC
Texas Roadhouse
Tilted Kilt Pub & Eatery
Tim Hortons Inc.
Uno Restaurant Corporation
Viad Corp
Waffle House Corp
Walt Disney World Company
We're Rolling Pretzel Company, WRPC, Inc.
Wendy's International
Whataburger Restaurants, LP
White Castle System,Inc
Wingstop Restaurants Inc
Yum! Brands, Inc.
Zaxby's Franchising, Inc.[115]

Articles and Resources


  1. 1.0 1.1 National Restaurant Association, "About Us", organizational website, accessed July 2013
  2. 2.0 2.1 The NRA 2011 Form 990, accessed Feb. 27, 2014.
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