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Words of wisdom from the KRHA Chair! Working together is smarter and leads to a higher probability of success.


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Top tags: hospitality workforce  hospitality mentors  Kansas ProStart Invitational  KRHA Board  mentoring  Dale Schmitt  Les Padzensky  ProStart 

Strengthening our Efforts

Posted By Dale Schmitt, Wednesday, January 31, 2018
Updated: Monday, January 29, 2018


Greetings KRHA members and friends.  As a member of the KRHA Board of Directors since 2008, I have witnessed the incredible growth of our association and its mission as the leading advocate for the restaurant and lodging industry in Kansas. This year, I am honored to serve our membership as Chairman of the Board. I plan on working to continue strengthening our efforts, programs and influence in the areas of legislation, education and member benefits.


 I had the opportunity to serve on the committee for our newest member benefit, the Trusted Table program. The committee was excited to get this program going, as KRHA is always looking to bring additional value to the industry.  Trusted Table will provide the opportunity for restaurants and hotels with food service to shape the conversation around the industry’s ongoing commitment to food safety and will provide a valuable difference when marketing your operation.  If you haven’t heard about the Trusted Table program, I strongly encourage you to go to to find out how easy it is to get involved…and it’s FREE! Created by industry for industry; thank you to the committee and KRHA Board for their guidance in creating a valuable industry program.    

Of the many industry areas that the KRHA addresses, the Education Foundation and Workforce Development are of specific interest to me. As government regulations, consumer expectations and uncertain economic conditions continue to mount, the need for operators to attract educated, skilled and career-oriented employees increases significantly.


Employers need to recognize and adapt to the continued changing face of the workforce. Flexible scheduling, enhanced compensation, benefits and job mobility are driving forces for a widely diverse  labor pool.  Millennials, Gen X, Boomers, and seniors now entering or re-entering the workforce are all important segments of the hospitality labor market and each has their own deal of variation from one individual to another within any generational cohort.


Proactively addressing these challenges as a trade association through member training, school to career programs and scholarship opportunities can ensure a productive workforce for the future of our businesses. I would urge all members to consider the importance of getting involved in preparing the next generation of hospitality managers and workers. One way you can get involved is by volunteering your time and expertise during our Kansas ProStart Invitational.  This is a great experience, and a time to give back to the future of our industry.  I have been volunteering my time to this event for the last several years.  It is exciting to see the students present what they have worked so hard on.  Their time, effort and passion for the industry is evident. It is very rewarding to be part of such a great group of students and I thoroughly enjoy waiting for the winning teams to be announced. The student competition will be held on March 6th this year at the Marriott Wichita.  It is a premier high school competition focused on restaurant management and culinary arts. This exciting event brings high school students from around the state together to compete for scholarships and state-wide recognition. Winning teams from each competition will be awarded first, second and third place medals.  The first-place teams in the culinary and management competitions also earn the right to represent Kansas at the National ProStart Invitational, April 27-29, in Providence, RI.  


Where ever your particular interest may be, there is a way for you to get involved in the association, which ultimately benefits our industry.  I look forward to serving you this coming year.


Dale Schmitt

KRHA Chairman

Owner, The Sweet Nook & Remote Video of Kansas City




Tags:  Dale Schmitt  hospitality mentors  hospitality workforce  Kansas ProStart Invitational  KRHA Board  mentoring 

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KRHA Year End Snapshot

Posted By Lisa Graham, Monday, December 18, 2017
Updated: Wednesday, December 20, 2017


As 2017 comes to a close, I find myself reflecting on the last two years that I served as the KRHA Chairman.  A college professor spoke about the importance of supporting your trade association.  When I moved to Wichita 30 odd years ago, I sought out the KRHA and became a member.  I am glad I followed that advice which has brought me to where I am today. Serving the industry and being involved in the development of KRHA has been a pleasure. 


Many updates were made to our annual awards ceremony, Hospitality Night Out, resulting in higher attendance, increased revenue, and a great time had by all.  Mark your calendar for October 22, 2018, and join us as we celebrate our industry leaders while raising funds for the KRHA Education Foundation. 


Trusted Table is a new consumer-driven marketing program that will be launching in January.  This program is aimed to set a higher food safety standard and to create public awareness of the industry’s commitment to food safety.  Trusted Table will bring additional membership value to operators, and empower consumers to prioritize food safety as a critical factor when dining out.


The KRHA Education Foundation Board is investing in the future of our industry by approving money to be made available to ProStart schools.  These funds will help connect industry to the classroom.  There are now 31 ProStart schools, up from 28 a year ago. 


Our social media presence continues to grow, providing an opportunity for us to reach a wider audience.  Membership continues to be strong as does our PAC fundraising.  Since Adam has been CEO we have met our National Political Action Committee (PAC) and Restaurant Advocacy Fund (RAF) goal, ensuring our voice will be heard at both the state and national levels of government.  Our industry association is in excellent shape and continues to offer operators great value for their membership investment. 


Having the opportunity to serve as Chairman helped me gain a deeper understanding of the organization and the benefits it brings to our industry.  I can’t put into words how important it is for operators to get involved.  If you are not sure how to get plugged in, give the staff a call and they can help connect you based on your interests.  KRHA membership is like insurance, you don’t know you need it until you do!


Thank you to everyone for the support I received while serving as the KRHA Board Chair.  Happy Holidays to all and a very prosperous New Year!




Les Padzensky

KRHA Chairman

Vice President Food & Beverage, Warren Theaters


Tags:  hospitality workforce  KRHA Board  Les Padzensky 

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Investing In The Future

Posted By Les Padzensky, Tuesday, April 11, 2017

More than 120 students representing high schools from across the state demonstrated their knowledge of restaurant management and culinary arts skills at this year’s Kansas ProStart Invitational, held on March 7-8 at the Wichita Marriott. 


This was our 16th annual ProStart Invitational.  It is amazing to see the creativity and innovation these students bring to the competition.  ProStart is the centerpiece of our restaurant & foodservice educational programs and plays an important role in attracting and preparing talented young people for careers in our industry. 


Think back when you were in high school.  There might not have been restaurant management or cooking competitions, but you might have participated on a sports team.  Having the opportunity to compete against the very best talent from across the state was an honor.  That is what it is like for many of these students. 


When we were in school, they used to offer Home Economic foods class.  Many schools now focus on Career and Technical Education (CTE). Schools receiving funds for CTE programs are required to gear curriculum to prepare students for a future career.  KRHA has a strong ProStart program and much of this is due to the passionate teachers in the classrooms across Kansas, focusing their lessons on industry standards by teaching culinary techniques, restaurant management, and food safety procedures. 


I am proud to be part of the KRHA team that provides these types of opportunities.  It takes many individuals to make the event a success.  Thank you to Neeley and Lisa and the rest of the KRHA team that coordinate all of the details.  Thank you to the industry leaders that supported the teams as a mentor as well as those that assisted as judges.  In all, over 50 individuals helped support the event.  As an industry, we support many other organizations, but don’t always invest in the future of our own industry.   I want to personally thank the over 40 organizations that supported the event as a sponsor or with in-kind donations.  Without the support of industry, the event would not be possible. 


One-in-three Americans’ first job is working at a restaurant. Whether the students choose our industry as a career, or a stepping stone on the way to another profession, the skills they are learning will be critical for future success.  ProStart students are learning soft skills such as time management, decision making, professionalism, teamwork, communication skills, and a few industry-specific skills such as culinary techniques and restaurant principles.


It is up to us as leaders in the industry to take an active role by investing in our future.  ProStart helps students take the next step towards a rewarding career in our industry.  Giving your time as a mentor, guest speaker or judge lets you network with potential employees.  It also provides you with a sense of fulfillment as you help students reach their potential.    



Wichita Heights High School

Management - 1st Place


Olathe Public Schools

Culinary - 1st Place


Tags:  Kansas ProStart Invitational  ProStart 

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Mentoring Our Future

Posted By Les Padzensky, Wednesday, January 25, 2017
Updated: Wednesday, January 25, 2017


As an industry, we play a major role in developing the U.S. workforce.  In fact, nearly one in three Americans had their first job at a restaurant.  We are the nation’s largest employer of teens, making us the training grounds for America’s workers.  How we train and mentor these individuals will determine how we shape today’s students into tomorrow’s workforce. 


Our industry teaches vital professional skills such as teamwork, multi-tasking, customer service and time management.  These are skills that will stay with individuals throughout their careers, whether they stay in the industry or move into other professions. 


As a mentor, you have the chance to provide support for students’ skill and character development.  Mentors are individuals that help guide and train, giving the opportunity to positively or negatively impact others.  This is a great opportunity as well as a responsibility.  Mentors can play many different roles. 


       Educator – Instruct students in technical and soft skills. 

       Supervisor – Give direction and show students how they fit into the needs of the operation.

       Coach – Provide feedback and encouragement to help students meet performance expectations.

       Counselor – Help students work through problems or attitudes that affect job performance.

       Role Model – Lead by example and help students develop effective skills and habits.


Most hourly employees in our industry are students that need a job with flexible hours that fit their busy lives.  According to the National Restaurant Association, 28% of employees are students.  Individuals stepping into the working world don’t often have an understanding of the expectations of employment.  It is critical for supervisors to teach them early in the onboarding process the importance of keeping commitments and showing up to work when scheduled.  Teens don’t always understand that when they get their first job, they have become a member of a team.  Talk to staff about how every crew member is a part of a team and the importance of their role in that team’s success.  Make sure they understand your policy for requesting time off due to illness vs. request for other personal activities.  Most operators want students to have the opportunity to participate in school activities and with the proper planning, can accommodate requested time off. 


Mentors help students make the connection between their present performance and their future career.  Teens don’t often understand that what employers need most is for them to be great at their job, as that role is crucial to success for everyone.  No matter what the position, every member of the team helps guide the organization to better revenue, more effective service, and opportunity for growth. 


As a mentor, you play an important role in a student’s life.  By ensuring you are a positive mentor, you can help groom future industry leaders and create a high–quality labor pool.  I encourage each of you to look for opportunities to have a positive impact on our industry workforce.  The opportunities that we provide students will help them build a foundation for the rest of their career.  



Tags:  hospitality mentors  hospitality workforce  mentoring 

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