When John Welch Turned Up The Heat For The Restaurant Industry
It was cold. Zero degrees outside and under national fuel shortage hungover from World War I, Jack Welch and dozens of other restaurateurs met in the unheated ballroom of Coates House in Kansas City, MO on December 1st, 1919-wearing their overcoats.
That day is now known as “Heatless Monday”.
The National Restaurant Association…A Cast Of Characters
In attendance at that first meeting of The National Restaurant Association is a cast of characters; restaurant operators and hospitality entrepreneurs. These gentlemen, and one woman, looked at the days challenges and its opportunity and proceeded to set the foundation that transformed the hospitality industry into what it is today.
To put this into some perspective, they were on the heels of World War I with food and energy shortages still effecting the lives of everyone. And just a few months before this our government passed a law which C.A. Patterson, called “One of the strangest pieces of of legislation in American History”. The August 1919 Volstead Act ended the legitimate sale of alcohol in the United States- the “Prohibition” had started.
The Restaurant Industry Outlasts Many A Tough Time
Talk about tough economic times? These restaurateurs were used to making 80-90% of their profits on the sale of alcohol. This could have spelled doom to the industry. Any restaurant operator who had the desire to stick it out knew that survival would depend on working together and sharing their knowledge and experience.
And that is what they did.
Many of these operators had success working together as a regional group, the Kansas City Restaurant Association.
One of their successes included avoiding a strike from their workers. With this experience they saw the power they had when working together. They were now ready to create a National Restaurant Association to meet the even bigger challenges of the day.
This year, 94 years later, The National Restaurant Association comes to Chicago. Crazy spring weather here aside, it will be much warmer than that first fate filled meeting of the National Restaurant Association back in 1919.
Welcome Back To Chicago Foodservice Suppliers
We welcome you all back to Chicago and hope to see you around the show. I will be around most of Saturday and I have some cool things to show you. For instance, the Internet didn’t exist back in 1919 and it certainly isn’t even the media vehicle we knew even 5 years ago. It has vastly grown and we’re bringing some timely reports regarding the online advertising data we now track. It’s pretty amazing. If you want to take a quickly look let me know, I’ll make sure to stop by or we can plan to meet up at a special time.
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