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NYC Chapter Event Recap: Lets Talk Restaurants at Havana Central

Wednesday, March 05, 2014   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Caitlin Sullivan
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Havana Central’s bustling Times Square location opened its intimate mezzanine dining area to a small group of restaurateurs for the NYS Restaurant Association’s first in a series of ‘Let’s Talk Restaurant’ events. Jeremy Merrin, owner of Havana Central and the Association's dynamic Vice-President of NYC Chapter Board, helped kick-off the first neighborhood-focused networking event right in the center of New York City - Times Square.

We welcomed an impressive roster of local hospitality professionals, representing a colorful variety of restaurants who brought different vantage points. Association members and non-members alike convened to enjoy the restaurant’s renowned sangria and Executive Chef Oscar Martinez’s delicious tasting of Havana Central's most popular items.

Check out more photos on the NYS Restaurant Association Facebook Page.

The focal point came at the second half of the night when Jeremy and The Association's, NYC Counsel, James Versocki, gathered attendees to discuss and brainstorm solutions for some of the industry’s most pressing issues. The most vocal topics discussed were undoubtedly Paid Sick Leave and the end of Automatic Gratuities (due to new I.R.S. regulations). The open discussion allowed owners to brainstorm on how to handle these issues and gave the Association some homework to develop answer to tough operational questions involving these issues.


Paid Sick Leave

The Association will contact the major payroll companies to gauge preparedness and ability to create helpful tools and strategies for the implementation of Paid Sick Leave for Association members.

Tip for restaurants: Explore whether an incentive driven Paid Sick Leave Policy (i.e. paying employees for sick days they don't take) will motivate your employees to use paid sick days responsibly.


The Association will produce a best-practices guideline for restaurants to follow regarding tipping procedures for large groups and customer focused literature that could be included with customer checks.

Tip for restaurants: One of Havana Central’s veteran servers discussed the $15.00 tip he recently received on a large party's $500.00 bill. The automatic gratuity used to act as a safety net for staff that is no longer present. To mitigate the chances of this experience being repeated with your staff, the group spoke about creative ways they can motivate the customer to tip appropriately. One suggestion was adding a ‘suggested tip’ section on bills that would include the dollar amounts for a 15%, 18% and 20% tip — which would give the customer freedom to tip while leaving the restaurant in compliance with the law.

The night ended with the Association extending its thanks to all who attended. The event was informative to all and allowed owners, general managers, and human resource professionals to exchange important ideas in a great setting. This event and future events will help unite local restaurant communities and serve as an important springboard for action by the Association on issues that matter most to you.


Nothing will help the Association assist you better than candid conversation with the community. The only question that remains is which neighborhood to visit next!

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