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August 2013


2013 IRA Golf Classic

 The IRA Annual Golf Classic was held Wednesday, August 7, at St. Andrews Golf and Country Club in West Chicago.  The event was a great day of golfing, networking and sampling of a wide array of fantastic food and beverages.  This year, foursomes were sold out.

Golfer's spent a sunny day on the course, depsite predictions of rain.




Fun events throughout the day included a putting challenge, longest drive contests, and closest to the pin.



In the afternoon, golfers participated in the silent auction, and enjoyed a cocktail reception and dinner from the restaurant stations in the clubhouse.

To finish the evening, there was an awards ceremony and the raffle names were drawn.

Thanks to the Golf Classic Committee Chair, Steven Hartenstein, and his hard working committee on a successful event. 
Many thanks to the following sponsors who made this event possible:

Presenting Sponsors: Anheuser-Busch, Proximo Spirits, and Samuel Adams

Eagle Sponsors: Heineken, HMSHost, MillerCoors, and Texas de Brazil

Birdie Sponsors: Call One, Mesirow Financial, and the National Restaurant Association

Par Sponsors: Ecolab, Freeborn & Peters LLP, Illinois Casualty Company, Mahoney Environmental, Premier Restaurant Group, SOS, and The Signature Room at the 95th

Hole Sponsors: Gene & Georgetti, Gonnella Baking Company, Glunz Beer, Lagunitas, and Testa Produce

Wine Sponsor: Constellation Brands

Breakfast, Lunch, and dinner providers: Sysco, Manny's Cafeteria & Delicatessen, Connie's Pizza, Flip Crepes, Starbucks, Uncle Dougie's, American Junkie, Carbon Live Fire Mexican Grill, Churro Factory, Eli's Cheesecake, Gonnella Baking, Lou Malnati's, M Squared Catering, Moretti's, Original Rainbow Cone, Phil Stefani's Signature Restaurants, Star of Siam, The Smoke Daddy, Turano Baking Company, and Wishbone

Corporate Sponsors: US Foods, Sysco, Heartland Payment Systems, Reinhart Foodservice, Pepsi, Edward Don, Gordon Food Service, Gold Rush Amusements, Heil & Kay Insurance, and Coca-Cola.


Lipinski Introduces 40-Hour Bill

In April, members of the IRA met with Congressman Dan Lipinski (D-IL) in Washington D.C. for the National Restaurant Association's annual Public Affairs Conference.  From Left: Sam Toia, John Colletti, Steve Palmer, Billy Lawless, Sr., Alicia Rocha, Congressman Lipinski, Olivia Pantoja, Steven Hartenstein, Phil Stefani.

Friend of the Illinois Restaurant Association, Congressman Dan Lipinski (D-IL), introduced the "Forty Hours is Full-time Act," a bill that would change the Affordable Care Act's definition of a full-time employee from 30 hours per week to 40 hours per week. 
As the largest private sector employers in the State of Illinois, restaurants will be severely impacted by this bill.  The Affordable Care Act currently defines full-time working status as 30 hours per week; however, this definition of full-time is not the norm for the restaurant industry. If the definition is not changed, employees who work an average of 30 hours per week will be considered full-time for purposes of health-care coverage offers starting in 2015.  As a result, it will diminish the scheduling flexibility that draws many employees to the restaurant industry. Therefore, it is important that the law’s definition of full-time be 40 hours per week, which is widely accepted among businesses including the restaurant industry.
The Illinois Restaurant Association has had a great relationship with Congressman Lipinski since he entered the House in 2004.  IRA members met with Congressman Lipinski in April as a part of the NRA's Public Affairs Conference in Washington DC and asked for his support addressing this challenge.  Special thanks to our members in his district who have developed strong relationships with the Congressmen including Steve Palmer, Dan Costello, and Michael LaPidus.
The IRA has also reached out to Illinois Congressmen Tammy Duckworth, Brad Schneider, Bill Foster, William Enyart, and Cheri Bustos to sponsor the legislation with Congressman Lipinski.  To date, Rep. Duckworth informed the IRA she plans to cosponsor the bill.


Taste of Chicago



Thank you for helping to make Taste of Chicago another huge success!



Sam Toia and Mayor Rahm Emanuel taste the samplings at Flip Crepe.


 Sam Toia and Ted Allen, host of the hit Food Network Show "Chopped", at the Taste of Chicago.
Lisa Kornick and husband Chef Michael Kornick, owners of mk the Restaurant, enjoy the afternoon at their restaurant. (Photo Credit: Richard Pack)
The IRA recently had the opportunity to sit down with Chef Michael Kornick and Lisa Kornick, owners of mk The Restaurant, located at 868 N. Franklin in Chicago. 
You've just debuted a revamped interior space, menu and bar program.  What are some of the new elements of this overhaul?   

A new bar featuring 30 new spirits, bar seating along the window, a new bar bite menu, new bathrooms, new upholstery, new menus, and 150 new wines.

What made you decide to make these changes? What has the response been?

Most restaurants should sparkle up their space every so often.  We waited because we had not secured a lease but once we did, we wanted to freshen the place up!  The response has been amazing.  Our guests are very excited.

What are you most excited about and why?

Our new bar seating and a new menu for our valued customers to enjoy the restaurant for casual evening or stopping in for drinks and a bite.

mk is celebrating its 15th year in business.  What is the secret behind this success in a challenging, and ever-changing industry?

We never take our eye off the most import aspect of any business and that is that our guests come first.  We work hard every day to be a better restaurant than we were the day before and all of our staff is engaged in contagious hospitality, taking care of each other and our guests.

How will mk celebrate this milestone?

First was the renovation. In July our staff enjoyed several weeks of paid vacation, thanking them for their years of service.  We will celebrate with our guests and friends throughout the year as well as host an anniversary party in September and a James Beard Foundation dinner in November.

mk believes that "food is a metaphor for the good things in life."  How does that translate into your style of service and/or restaurant culture?

Chefs celebrate ingredients through creativity and a passion for the art of cooking.  Our entire staff shares our kitchen’s dedication with our guests as they celebrate their own special occasions, as well as simply celebrating the opportunity to relax in a dining room in the hands of professionals allowing guests to enjoy an evening with friends, great food, and service.

News & Notes

Flaco's Tacos

IRA Board member Ed Hebson, welcomes the third location of Mexican taqueria Flaco's Tacos (3530 N. Clark St.) The counter service spot will serve made-from-scratch tacos, tortas, and tamales and feature a full bar. Congratulations Ed!

Hot Doug's

Congratulations to IRA Member Doug Sohn, the owner of Hot Doug's on publishing his first cookbook. Doug has just released "Hot Doug's: The Book." Click here to see the full article and video on WGN News.

IRA Centennial

The IRA is commemorating its 100th anniversary in 2014.  At the suggestion of many of our members, we are putting together a Centennial Committee to organize a commemoration.  All ideas are welcome.  If you would like to join the committee please contact Kevin Brophy at or 312-380-4122.  

Back to School Rally - August 14, 2013

Cornerstone Community Outreach, a Chicago organization for homeless families with children, is throwing its annual back-to-school rally on Wednesday August 14, 2013 from 2pm-4pm. They are asking if you would consider helping procure pizza for this event. Any contribution that you can make will help. In spite of the difficult time many children experience while homeless, going to school can be a stabilizing factor and provide each child with hope for new opportunities and further their education. For more information or to donate please contact Mindy Taylor at


Don't Miss It

Illinois Restaurant Association Educational Foundation Fundraiser:
Chicago Cubs vs. Washington Nationals: August 20, 2013
Please join the IRAEF Board of Trustees at 6:30 p.m. on Tuesday, August 20, for a ball game to benefit the IRAEF at Wrigleyville Rooftops, 1032 W. Waveland. Your participation will support programming for high school ProStart students as they work toward a career in the foodservice and hospitality industry.  Tickets to the event are $75.  RSVP by Friday, August 9 to Jenna Zera at  

Chicago Gourmet Wine & Spirits Dinner Series

These special, intimate events showcase premium wine and spirit selections from presenting sponsor Southern Wine & Spirits of Illinois, and are accompanied by world-class cuisine from participating Chicago Gourmet restaurants. Click here for more information.

Upcoming dates and locations include:   

August 28, 2013: Hearty

September 25, 2013: Vermillion

Make your plans now for Bon Appétit presents Chicago Gourmet, September 27-29, 2013 in Millennium Park. Buy tickets here

The hottest Chicago restaurants are teaming up, in association with the Illinois Restaurant Association, to provide mouth-watering samples at BizBash IdeaFest Chicago on November 13 at the Merchandise Mart. Don’t miss this opportunity to join Restaurant Row and show your private event space to hundreds of elite meeting and event planners as they are looking for new venues and solutions for their upcoming events. Visit, or contact Sue Babin at, 312-436-2526 for more information.  *Illinois Restaurant Association members receive special pricing*

New Members

The Association is pleased to welcome:


Millennium Park   |   Sept 26 - 30