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On April 9-10, 2018,  the Golden Gate Restaurant Association hosted our 4th annual GGRA Industry Conference at the Bently Reserve in downtown San Francisco. This gathering brought together nearly 400 attendees from the Bay Area restaurant community as well as industry service providers and stakeholders. Over two days, during twenty sessions that included more than seventy presenters, the conference delved into the industry’s complex and shared challenges and discussed best practices.


Here is a summary of a few key programs from the two-day program.


Immigration 101: With the national crackdown on immigration, panelists including Tobias Damm-Luhr of Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights and Adrienne Pon of San Francisco’s Office of Civic Engagement & Immigrant Affairs, City & County of San Francisco examined the legal requirements for restaurants, how to handle I-9s, what happens when employees have expired paperwork, and what to do when ICE shows up. Restaurateur Nick Cobarruvias, Son’s Addition, discussed how they’ve prepared themselves for ICE activity:


  • There have been no ICE raids in the Bay Area, but there has been activity. Restaurants are receiving a “notice of inspection” that requests the employer to submit I-9 documentation and they have three days to do so.
  • What to do if ICE comes to a restaurant: If ICE agents have official judicial search warrants, they are able to search areas identified in the warrant (nothing additional). Best practice is to call a lawyer to confirm the validity of the warrant before allowing agents to enter the building. Overall, restaurant owners should not offer more information to ICE agents than necessary.
  • Restaurant owners were reminded they must complete an I-9 for every employee, but not independent contractors.
  • Non-citizen employees have largely the same rights as citizens and Green Card holders.
  • Resources: uscis.gov; call 415-200-1548 if an ICE inspection is suspected


Creating a Harassment-Free Environment: Josey Baker of Josey Baker Bread and The Mill, Karen Leibowitz of The Perennial, Erin Wade of Homeroom, Andrew Sommer of Conn Maciel Carey law firm, and Kasia Nowak of Fisher Phillips law firm candidly discussed best practices on creating harassment-free work environments and the challenges they’ve faced in their own restaurants, and solutions they’ve implemented. Executive Director of the GGRA Gwyneth Borden moderated.

  • It’s not enough to have a harassment policy in a handbook; creating a harassment-free environment is about cultivating a culture of respect that’s intolerant of harassment.
  • When creating harassment policies, owners should make sure to get input from employees and listen to the people who are affected.
  • Part of the owners’ responsibility is to make talking about and reporting harassment not a taboo issue.
  • Be sure to address harassment claims right away and begin an internal investigation if necessary. Thank the employee for reporting the issue and call a lawyer.
  • Much of a harassment dynamic is about power. An owner should make sure employees know they are not powerless.
  • Erin Wade of Homeroom in Oakland devised a system for her staff to report customer harassment.
  • Karen Leibowitz of The Perennial created a harassment poster in the style of choking posters that are mandatory in NYC restaurants to help employees know they have the power to report harassment.
  • What to Put Into a Harassment Policy
    • Define zero tolerance
    • Provide examples
    • Define harassment
    • Define the duty to report — Not just employees who are being harassed, but employees who witness harassment.
    • Protection against retaliation
    • Complaint procedure
    • Confidentiality
    • Ongoing training


Are you Being Delivered?: Joe Hargrave of Tacolicious & MF Chicken, Emmy Kaplan of Emmy’s Spaghetti Shack, and Nick Adler of Caviar discussed the changing landscape of food delivery, weighing in on the benefits and challenges plus offer tips on what to consider when choosing to have your food delivered. Eater SF Editor Ellen Fort moderated.

  • Delivery during off-peak times is trending. Anytime a restaurant can add incremental revenue sources across more orders and sales dollars is a good thing.
  • Chefs are using Caviar and other delivery services to test new projects. 4505 Burgers & BBQ has been doing delivery-only, Thursday – Sunday in the East Bay in advance of their Oakland restaurant opening. Souvla popped up in NYC to test a new market. Chef Brandon Jew of Mister Jiu’s tested his Michelin-starred Chinese food via delivery earlier this year.
  • Good delivery options are very important. Everyone is busy! It’s an amazing benefit and it’s not going away.
  • How food travels is a major factor in the delivery game. Limiting what a restaurant offers is important. If something doesn’t travel well, then don’t include it on a delivery menu.


Other highlights available on social media with the hashtag #IndustryOnlyGGRA and #GGRAIndustryConference.


Check out our full recap report here and in depth summary of the Influencers panel here!

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