Trade Associations and Resources

Trade Associations and Resources

  • Restaurant Industry Trade Associations

    With the large number of people involved in various aspects of the restaurant industry-- from owners who are often professional chefs, to managers, to food service and equipment suppliers to franchise seekers-- professional associations serve as a reliable source of information and support. In addition to many state restaurant trade associations, there are national and international groups that represent every segment of the industry. Here are links to and summaries of a sampling of them:

    National Restaurant Association

    The major organization representing the restaurant industry since 1919, the NRA advocates for all its members, whether small independent establishments or large corporations with multiple locations. The NRA partners with 53 state restaurant associations, and also has an educational foundation. With the current economy in mind, the NRA focuses on profitability, entrepreneurship, jobs, food safety, and sustainability practices. It provides its members with tools and solutions to increase revenues through products such as its Full Course Business Solutions , and partners with others to provide everything from nutrition analysis to online reservations services. Education and networking opportunities include Executive Study Groups, webinars, and attendance at the NRA Show. Other educational programs range from career building for high school students to leadership and management training. Membership is open to corporations and individuals, and includes a state restaurant association membership. Industry suppliers, distributors, and consultants may apply for Allied Membership.

    American Culinary Federation

    With so many Professional Chefs owning their own restaurants these days, the ACF is an important networking tool. Founded in 1929, this professional organization has more than 230 local chapters and over 20,000 members. Various categories of membership are available for Professional "Culinarians," restaurant owners, managers, suppliers and students. Educational programs are provided through the ACF's foundation at the eCulinary Professional Development Institute, and a certification program enables chefs to improve their careers and earning potential.

    North American Association of Food Equipment Manufacturers

    NAFEM is the trade association for the suppliers to the restaurant industry -- the manufacturers who provide the products for food preparation, cooking, storage and table service. In addition to professional education, leading to a Certified Foodservice Professional designation, members are listed in Find Manufacture, a searchable online database. Members can also access information on industry standards, local regulations and publications, such as the NAFEM Smallwares Guide for setting up different kinds of restaurants. NAFEM's trade show attracts over 20,000 foodservice professionals and features over 500 exhibitors. Along with networking and educational seminars, it provides an opportunity to speak with manufacturers 'representatives and see new products firsthand.

    International Franchise Association

    Representing franchise companies, individual franchisees, and support businesses, the IFA is a great source of information for anyone already in the franchise industry, or for would-be restaurant owners. New entrepreneurs can learn the how to's of starting a business and seasoned business owners can network and problem-solve. At IFA, members can take online courses ranging from franchising basics to profit mastery. Professional Development is also available through continuing education programs leading to a Certified Franchise Executive designation.

    National Federation of Independent Business

    Representing itself as the voice of small business, NFIB has chapters in 50 states. In addition to free webinars on small business issues, members benefit from the combined purchasing power of the association for discounts on workers' compensation and health insurance, as well as shipping and office supplies. Members also have access to business resources with answers pertinent to small business, such as labor and staffing issues, legal questions, advertising queries, and financing and accounting help.

  • Restaurant Industry Resources

    The restaurant industry is a competitive one, so it is imperative that an entrepreneur keep current with the marketplace. This means getting hold of the information necessary to run a business quickly and easily. Here are some resources for help with government regulations, finding suppliers and equipment, financing information, hiring and management, tax tips, and more.


    An online resource for foodservice professionals for over 10 years, this site provides free tips and articles on subjects of interest to restaurant owners, from starting a restaurant, with business plan guides, checklists and forms to download, to restaurant management, with articles on food safety, equipment maintenance, starting a restaurant blog and more. Site includes a marketplace for equipment and supplies and links to other resources.

    Internal Revenue Service -- Restaurants Tax Center

    The IRS ' Small Business Restaurants Tax Center offers free online information and links to other resources. In addition to tax information on employee benefits and reporting tip income, information is provided on recordkeeping, choosing an accounting method, economic forecasts, forms and publications specifically for the restaurant industry.

    U.S. Department of Labor elaws

    The DOL Website provides an online interactive tool designed to provide information on federal employment laws for small business and workers in an easy to understand format.

    Restaurant Report

    With free content on restaurant marketing, management, service and finance, among other topics, this Website is meant to be of interest to the restaurant owner, manager, chef, and staff. One can also find links to the free e-newsletter, Just One Thing , and Restaurant Reports other sites,,, and the blog, Restaurant Ramblings .

    Small Business Administration

    The SBA 's Small Business Loans Website helps the small business owner understand where to find a small business loan and how to apply for one. Checklists, and links to loan sources are also provided.


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