Dawn Sweeney to Step Down as NRA CEO by the End of the Year 

Dawn Sweeney |    National Restaurant Association

Dawn Sweeney | National Restaurant Association

The National Restaurant Association (NRA) will have a new CEO come 2020.

Dawn Sweeney, who has been the CEO of the association for 12 years, announced during the 2019 NRA Show show this weekend that she will be stepping down from her role.

“Serving and leading the restaurant industry during this historic timeframe, when foodservice has grown to an $863 billion business employing over 15 million professionals, has been the most fulfilling experience of my career,” said Sweeney. “We have accomplished much together, including important public policy victories at all levels of government, a broadened membership base representative of the industry at large, and a revitalized organization that has expanded and bolstered its advocacy and business capabilities. I have had the privilege of serving for 12 years — the longest tenure of any position in my career. It is vital to me that we work to ensure the Association and Foundation have a smooth and seamless transition to plan for the future.” 

Sweeney will working with the Board to approve the 2020-2024 strategic plan prior to her departure.  

Under her leadership, membership has increased has grown by 50 percent and the association has almost double its revenues.  

“Dawn has been an extraordinary leader for the restaurant and foodservice industry during a time of both challenge and opportunity,” said Joe Essa, 2019 Association Chair and President & CEO of Wolfgang Puck Worldwide. “She has unified our industry, expanded our impact, heightened our effectiveness, and navigated a number of significant public policy challenges. The organization is well-positioned to continue to fulfill its mission to advance and protect the industry and has a strong foundation on which her successor will build.”

It won’t be an easy task to find a replacement, but Sweeney will be in involved, along with the headhunter Spencer Stuart. 

Learn more about the latest NRA announcement at “Food Newsfeed” now.  

Back in 2017, Sweeney was appointed by the U.S. Labor Department to join the Task Force on Apprenticeship Expansion. The focus of the task force is to foster career pathways in different industries. In 2015, Sweeney kicked off Foodable Network’s first Foodable.io event as the keynote speaker at the Fast Casual Nation Premiere. Although the industry is collectively sad to see such an impactful leader go, it is also wondering who will the new CEO be?

American Express is Buying Reservation App Resy

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The financial services corporation American Express announced today that it will be buying the restaurant reservation booking platform, Resy.

In a move to offer more restaurant perks to its customers, the credit card company has been adding to its portfolio by acquiring different hospitality services.

Some of American Express's latest acquisitions include the travel-assistant app Mezi and LoungeBuddy, an airport-lounge booking service.

“American Express wants to be more central in our customers’ everyday lives,” said Chris Cracchiolo, American Express’s senior vice president for global loyalty and benefits to "New York Times."

Resy, which has emerged as a rival to OpenTable, has 4,000 restaurants on its platform and is used in 10 countries.

Last November, Resy acquired Reserve, another reservation company.

Before that, Resy was on an acquiring spree and bought ClubKviar, a reservation service in Madrid and Barcelona, Spain in April and in 2017, the company also acquired Servy, a market research service.

Resy's revenue has doubled every year for the last four years. According to Foodable Labs data, Resy has the highest Operator Sentiment score out of all the reservation services, meaning operators are much happier with this service versus others.

Now, as part of American Express's portfolio, Resy is expected to grow significantly.

“Putting Resy and American Express together will give Resy valuable scale,” said Ben Leventhal, Resy’s co-founder and chief executive.

Earlier this year, Resy partnered up with the American Express competitor Capital One to release a modern restaurant week and Capital One cardmembers got early access to book reservations during these weeks.

American Express' may now do similar campaigns to promote its dining reward credit cards.

Read more about the impending deal at "The New York Times" now.

Under the American Express' umbrella, Resy is about to become a real threat to OpenTable. Check out the video below to learn more about the restaurant reservations war.

How Seafood Can Improve Mental Wellness

In the U.S., one in five Americans suffer from mental health issues each day, which is over 40 million Americans. Almost half of adults (46.4 percent) will experience a mental illness during their lifetime. Unfortunately, the mental health crisis has been on a steady incline.

Your diet not only makes an impact on your physical health but also on your mental health.

With that in mind, at the last Foodable.io event in Seattle, there was a panel solely focused on mental health and the role a healthy diet plays.

We gathered three nutrition experts including Linda Cornish, president of the Seafood Nutrition Partnership, Dr. Tom Brenna, director at Seafood Nutrition Partnership, and Lionel Uddippa, chef de cuisine at Salt in Alaska to see how a rich seafood diet, in particular, has been proven to help improve mental health.

Seafood has been shown to reduce symptoms of schizophrenia, depression, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, and other mental disorders. Specifically, people who regularly eat fish are 20 percent less likely than their peers to experience depression. The American Psychiatric Association has even endorsed the fatty acids in fish as an effective part of depression treatment.

"The brain is fundamentally an omega-3 organ, it's richer in omega-3 than any other organ in the body...the effects of omega-3 EPA in depression specifically have been very consistent where those diagnosed with major depression using omega-3 rich oils have seen a consistent alleviation of symptoms," says Dr. Brenna.

Listen to the full podcast episode above to learn more about how seafood can make a positive impact on mental health and how the chef community can support itself and its customers through the food it serves.

Sustainability-Focused Brands Share Best Practices

Thanks to today's technology and data analytics, we are well aware of the impact we have on our environment. But knowledge is power.

Brands across the country now have teams dedicated to improving sustainable practices, all committed to a larger mission to reduce their carbon footprint.

At the Foodable.io Seattle event, we sat down with three sustainability experts– Jessica Myer, environmental specialist for Ste Michelle Wine Estates, Julia Person, sustainability and manager for Kona Brewing, and Nelly Hand, founder & and fisherman to learn about each of their roles and how their brands are providing eco-friendly solutions.

But to make sure that sustainable practices are being universally used within a business isn't always easy.

"As we grow as a company and our sustainable practices are actually coming into fruition, our biggest challenge is that our locations in eastern Washington and Oregon are very rural, so we don't have access to the recycling seen in Seattle or Portland. The city of Walla Walla (in Washington) doesn't have any glass recycling, which seems insane. But we have to find innovative ways to get our products recycled," says Myer. "Another thing is the plastic challenge. We are having to sometimes paid to recycle our plastic now, which is not necessarily sustainable for a business but we want to make sure we're doing the right thing."

This movement encompasses much more than recycling. There's water conservation, alternative power sources, fishing techniques, and harvesting practices– that all make an impact on our planet and its resources.

Listen to the full episode above to learn more about how these brands are looking for new ways to be more eco-friendly, while also closing the loop on consumers demands around full sustainability and responsibility from all sides.

Boston Beer Company and Dogfish Head Announces $300 Million Merger

Two publicly traded beer companies Dogfish Head and Boston Beer Company will be merging into one massive beer business.

Last week, the companies announced that they had agreed to a $300 merger deal where the Dogfish Head co-founders Sam and Mariah Calagione will receive about 406,000 shares of Boston Beer stock, making them the largest non-institutional shareholders. Boston Beer founder Jim Koch remains the largest shareholder.

Dogfish Head shareholders made $173 million in the deal and in 2020, Sam Calagione will be joining the Boston Beer's board of directors.

The Samuel Adams’ brewer Boston Beer is the second largest craft beer maker in the U.S. and Dogfish Head is the 13th, according to the Brewers Association.

“This combination is the right fit as both Boston Beer and Dogfish Head have a passion for brewing and innovation, we share the same values and we will learn a lot from each other as we continue to invest in the high-end beer category,” said Koch in a press release.

Koch and Sam Calagione discussed the deal back in February at the Beer Advocate’s Extreme Beer Fest in Boston while sipping on pints.

“We talked about how challenging the industry is getting, the indie craft definition, brands that consumers think are indie craft, active lifestyle beers, and we discovered how beautifully complementary and not competitive our portfolios were,” said Koch.

Dogfish Head is expected to sell 300,000 barrels of beer this year, with net sales of about $120 million. The company is only expected to grow significantly with more resources under Boston Beer. Dogfish Head current sales team that is only about 25 percent of the size of Boston Beer’s.

This isn't the first time the companies have worked together either. About eight years ago, the companies partnered to brew a collaboration beer for the annual SAVOR craft beer event.

Learn more about this big beer merger at "Brewbound."

Whenever a craft brewer sells or gets acquired, this often inspires a debate amongst craft beer lovin' consumers. Watch the video below to learn more.