Food

Presented by the WBC EmPWR Program at the NIIC, a member and partner of the Whitley County Chamber of Commerce & Visitors Center

The restaurant industry suffered devastating losses in 2020. With these harsh realities in mind, the WBC EmPWR Program at The NIIC developed the Restaurant Revitalization Speaker Series. Each virtual event features an Indiana restaurant industry expert and will be on a Monday or Wednesday this month, from 12:30 p.m. to 1:30 p.m. Visit https://theniic.org/restaurant/ for more information. 

The 2021 State of Restaurant Industry Report, published by The National Restaurant Association, January 26, 2021, reported "key findings regarding the impact of coronavirus on the restaurant industry include:

  • Restaurant and foodservice industry sales fell by $240 billion in 2020 from an expected level of $899 billion.
  • As of December 1, 2020, more than 110,000 eating and drinking places were closed for business temporarily, or worse, permanently. 
  • The eating and drinking place sector finished 2020 nearly 2.5 million jobs below its pre-coronavirus level."

This data hit home for Sarah Lance, WBC EmPWR Program Manager at The NIIC. "We've experienced this in our community, in our state. With so many in the foodservice industry facing such devastating challenges this past year, we thought there had to be something we could do to support them. In speaking with some Indiana restaurant owners, there emerged a need for connection with peers, to listen and learn from each other. This speaker series provides the platform to bring them together to connect on the challenges they all faced and the opportunities ahead for restaurants and foodservice, from food trucks to bakeries," said Lance.

Mary Corinne "MC" Lowenstein, Director of Marketing, Hop River Brewing Company, said, "Since the beginning of COVID-19, we have had this great opportunity to try different things in our individual establishments. Now we have the opportunity to look ahead and keep those things that worked pre-COVID and expand on things that enhanced our mission during COVID."

Upcoming Speakers Include:

Lowenstein thrives on developing and marketing community engagement opportunities through experiences based on leisure activities and personal interests. She said her passion grows in providing and promoting positive interactions and connecting people through a common interest. She is also a Founder of the Northern Indiana Brewers Association and Beer Trail Passport.

Houser, Founder and CEO of EatHere Indy, is an entrepreneur and economic driver with a passion for high-growth opportunities. He is a media and tech leader in Indiana’s fast-growing food/tech industry. EatHere Indy is headquartered in Indianapolis, with one mission: To bring diverse communities together through shared food experiences.

Gump is the Chef and General Manager at Tri-Lakes Restaurant in Columbia City. He is also the owner of Rowdy Rooster Artisan Meats, a new charcuterie producer in Fort Wayne set to open in the late summer of 2021. Over his 15-year career in the restaurant industry, he has managed various restaurants and bars as well as served as a consultant to restaurants. He says the most significant issue in restaurants is consistency. Brandon focuses on building consistency and ultimately profitability for the restaurants he serves.

Lance is a successful role model with over 25 years of experience in the restaurant industry. His tenure includes multiple promotions at high-growth brands such as Bahama Breeze, Don Pablo’s, and City Barbeque. Over the years, he and his teams have produced a talent pipeline, leading to internal promotions for teammates at the GM, department director, multi-unit leader, and new store opening levels. He excels in sales growth, people development, and building relationships with the guests in his restaurants. 

Register for each event you'd like to attend by visiting: theniic.org/restaurant

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