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America Works Here: The Story of the American Restaurant Industry

Since January last year, there’s been a regularly-run ad in major Capitol Hills publications which, we can say, is close to our heart: America Works Here.

America Works Here , a call to support America’s restaurants, aims to communicate to the country’s policymakers how the restaurant industry benefits America’s communities, economy and careers. It emphasizes the industry’s important contribution to our society—the fact that the country’s restaurant businesses are the second biggest provider of jobs in the U.S., having provided a total of 13 million jobs. The industry came second to health care companies, which has 14.3 million, followed by technology and banking, which have 6.1 million and 1.8 million.

One out of ten Americans work at a restaurant; and with the appropriate regulations from our lawmakers, the numbers can most likely increase by another 1.3 million in the next ten years.

As reported in the National Restaurant Association’s Fact book, the industry’s sales in the year 2011 totaled to 604 billion, which is equivalent to 4% of the country’s gross domestic product. It has employed a total of 12.8 million people—equal to 10% of the U.S. workforce—and with the right support, it hopes to reach an employment rate of 14.1 million by 2021.

The campaign basically relates the story of the country’s restaurant industry. Each stage of its campaign hopes to tell the story and illustrate the achievements and impact that the industry has on America—the opportunities it offers, whether to hone a job skill (such as the cooking skills of chefs in superior chef coats) or have a restaurant business; the chance it provides to anyone who wishes to pursue his American Dream; or the help it extends to various communities through its philanthropic activities.

In a press release during the ad’s launching around this time last year, NRA’s Scott Defife remembers the serious policy issues that the restaurant industry faced in recent years. “We wanted to remind the country’s elected officials that they need not only think of their own hometown or neighborhood restaurants—they need to view this industry as a whole, nationwide collection of restaurants and all the associated parts of the supply chain that are linked to it. Our industry has a large scope, and we need them to be educated and reminded of that.”

Other than breaks and opportunities, the campaign reminds us that restaurants play a vital role in the lives of the American people—not just as an industry where half of America’s population has worked in, but also as a part of their everyday life—the celebration of their life’s milestones, an area where they have their regular morning coffee and breakfast, the place to hangout with friends and savor the specialty dishes of the restaurants’ chefs in cool chef coats, or a venue where rapport takes place to close that all-essential business deal.

Besides economic impact and opportunities, other stories that have been reflected in the ads deal with the industry’s diversity, careers, youth development, food safety, skills building and nutrition.