Advancing Restaurants’ Interests in 2023

Emily Knight
CEO, Texas Restaurant Association
Highlighted Speaker for the 2023 FEDA Annual Conference

It’s a dynamic time across the restaurant industry as operators try to balance pent up demand from diners eager to get out after the height of the COVID pandemic against inflation and labor shortages. Finding a path to success in these conditions is not easy, so mutually beneficial partnerships, such as those between dealers and operators, are needed now more than ever. Which is why I’m so excited to have the opportunity to meet more members of the dealer community at the 2023 FEDA Annual Conference and discuss the ways we can work together to better the industry.

I’ll be sharing some of the economic and legislative threats facing restaurants during the opening session of the conference next October in Frisco, Texas, but the end of 2022 provides a strong indicator of next year’s challenges. The cost of goods for restaurants is at a 30-year high while the cost to consumers is 8.5 percent above 2021. Sales have not fallen yet, but as consumers feel the pinch of rising prices it could influence the amount they spend in restaurants. Meanwhile, wages are at an all-time high as operators compete with a tight labor pool to fill 1 million open jobs across the country. Demand is outpacing staffing and that is expected to continue into the new year.

Restaurant operators are working hard to manage costs and lure workers back to the industry, but they can’t solve these challenges alone. State-level organizations like the Texas Restaurant Association provide tools, resources and legislative action to give restaurants a greater chance at overcoming the uncertain economy and finding sustained success. One such initiative is our ProStart program, which provides a two-year culinary arts and foodservice management course to more than 200 high schools across Texas, helping to fill that surplus of open positions.

On the legislative side, the TRA had tremendous success during the last session of the Texas state legislature in 2021. We helped pass six bills instrumental to the state restaurant industry’s recovery, including allowing alcohol to-go, no taxes on Paycheck Protection Program or Restaurant Revitalization Fund payouts and liability protection. We’re looking forward to an even more productive legislative session in 2023, with the goal of securing support for the expansion of the ProStart program, easing duplicative fees, securing property tax relief, and defeating harmful proposals.

We’re also monitoring issues and new legislation across the United States. This has become especially important in the “Think globally, act locally,” era when state and local governments are taking it upon themselves to pass laws that have a national impact. Take Berkeley, California’s move to eliminate the use of natural gas in new kitchen builds. Knowing these laws can inspire imitators, we worked with a coalition to pre-empt similar proposals in Texas so our restaurant owners would not be hamstrung.

For 85 years, the TRA has uplifted Texas’ restaurant industry and we’re proud to continue that work. Nationally, restaurants are projected to grow by 2 percent in unit volume in 2023 but, with our help, Texas’ industry is expected to more than double that. Each of those restaurants needs guidance and equipment, making Texas one of the most exciting markets for foodservice equipment and supplies dealers. The best way dealers can support those new restaurant owners is to be informed, and the Texas Restaurant Association can help you achieve that education. I invite you to learn more about us at