Tom Bene HeadshotAs restaurants begin to reopen, Tom Bené, the National Restaurant Association’s new President & CEO, said the organization’s focus is on helping operators meet the changing needs and expectations of consumers, while providing them with the necessary tools and capabilities to adapt to the new operating environments resulting from the COVID-19 health crisis. 

Bené, who joined the Association June 1, emphasized that the Association plays a key role in bringing the entire industry together, which includes restaurants of all service types, as well as the many suppliers and distributors that enable their success. 

“Leveraging the breadth and depth of the full restaurant and foodservice industry is critical as we begin inviting diners back into our restaurants and to our tables. The Association serves as a knowledge center and collaboration point as restaurant operators turn to us for help navigating the ever changing dining landscape. We are focused on expanding our current capabilities as well as building new ones to help operators navigate a rapidly changing set of policies and guidelines,” he said. 

Bené, who served as Chairman, President and CEO of Sysco Corp. and President of PepsiCo Foodservice before joining the Association, said that despite the challenges of dealing with the coronavirus, the industry would rebound as it has done so many times in the past. He underscored that the Association’s role is to listen intently to its members and rely on their wisdom and experience as well as to leverage industry data and insights to develop the new tools that will be necessary to drive value and ultimately accelerate the industry’s recovery efforts.

Read more about Tom Bené.

“It’s an honor to be able to help bring this amazing industry together as one,” he said. “That means working on the needs of all operators — chains, independents, and franchisees — by partnering with them at the local, state, and national level to deliver on the vision of a thriving restaurant and foodservice community. By working together, we will enhance the quality of life for everyone.”

He also stressed the Association’s commitment to continue “Setting the Table for Success,” which includes ramping up the industry’s knowledge and usage of technology, continuing to strengthen partnerships with state restaurant associations, and developing ongoing educational tools to bolster workforce development.

Bené said creativity, passion, and the entrepreneurial spirit of owners, operators, and chefs are the things he loves most about the restaurant industry. They’re one of the key things that has inspired him to join the Association during these challenging times. “We know that some shy away from times of crisis, but others want to jump in to help make a difference. I know that’s true for all of us.”