National Restaurant Association: Your Questions Answered

Almost every industry has a professional association or coalition attached to it. For restaurants, that’s the National Restaurant Association (NRA). The NRA serves restaurants and other foodservice businesses in a variety of ways. Let’s delve into who they are.

What does the National Restaurant Association do?

As per their website, the NRA’s mission is: 

“To serve our industry and impact its success, we: Strengthen operations, mitigate risk and develop talent; Advance and protect business vitality through national, state and local advocacy; and Drive knowledge and collaboration.”

That covers a lot of territory. More specifically the NRA works to promote food safety, supports legislation and policy that helps the industry, builds networks between members, and helps its members thrive and succeed with training, scholarships, and credentials.

The National Restaurant Association is registered as a 501(c)(6) membership-based nonprofit. This means it exists to promote the business interests of its members but without making a profit for any shareholders in the organization. Most trade organizations and professional organizations fall into this category. While there’s no requirement for a 501(c)(6) to serve the public good (unlike other charitable nonprofits), the NRA’s efforts supporting small businesses has a positive effect on communities.

Who can join the National Restaurant Association?

More than 40,000 members make up the National Restaurant Association, representing almost half a million establishments. The Association has six membership categories. They are:

  • Restaurant: This includes businesses with table service, quick service, on-site food service and cafeterias, among others.
  • Allied: This applies to any suppliers, distributors, or consultants that work with the industry.
  • Faculty: Full-time educators in any accredited restaurant or hospitality education program.
  • Student: Full-time students in any accredited, 2 or 4 year restaurant or hospitality education program. They must also be 18 or older.
  • Nonprofit: This applies to any government-funded or subsidized foodservice facility, including state and military facilities.
  • International: From the NRA website: “Any firm that operates facilities and/or supplies meal service on a regular basis for others and has no foodservice outlets in the United States.”

How did they start?

Towards the end of World War I, restaurant owners recognized that their industry was growing and changing. While many of these business owners were members of local Rotary Clubs, they knew they needed an organization specifically geared to the needs of the foodservice industry. And so in Kansas City, one such group came together: the Kansas City Restaurant Association.

In 1917 a number of farmers in Kansas had grouped together to drive up the price of eggs (up to 65 cents a dozen). The Kansas City association organized a boycott, driving the price of eggs down to 32 cents. This put them on the map and by 1919 they had become a national organization.

The future of the National Restaurant Association will no doubt include responding to increased concerns about safety in light of the pandemic, developing leaders in hospitality, finding new ways to serve customers, and bringing new technology that will shape the restaurant industry landscape.

FAQs

What is the purpose of the National Restaurant Association? 

The NRA was created to serve the members of the restaurant industry specifically through networking, lobbying, and education.

Is the National Restaurant Association non-profit? 

Yes. It is registered as a 501(c)(6) non-profit.

How many members does the National Restaurant Association have? 

The NRA currently has more than 40,000 members. These represent nearly 500,000 foodservice establishments.

What are the National Restaurant Association’s six membership categories? 

Those categories are: restaurant, allied, faculty, student, nonprofit, and international.

How did an egg boycott lead to the founding of the National Restaurant Association? 

In 1917 the Kansas City Restaurant Association successfully boycotted the rising price of eggs. Doing so got them national recognition and by 1919 they had become a national association. 

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