In 1937 leaders of the Texas restaurant industry gathered and decided to form a statewide association where they could share ideas, lobby for common goals and work together to build the industry. This was the beginning of the Texas Restaurant Association.
1930-40's | 1950's | 1960's | 1970's
Throughout our history, it has been our mission to be the advocate and indispensable resource in Texas for the foodservice and hospitality industry. Today, TRA is the largest state restaurant association in the country and the Texas foodservice industry is a $40.8 billion business, employing more than one million people. TRA membership continues to grow each year, due in large part to the support of our chapter leaders and volunteers.
1930’s & 1940's
As a result of the Great Depression, by the start of the 1930’s one in four Americans found themselves out of work. But as the years rolled by, new ideas and new industries sprang up across the country, bringing comfort and betterment to people’s lives. Restaurants began to proliferate throughout the South – first, humble hamburger joints and diners appeared along roadsides and city outskirts; by the decade’s end, fine eating establishments appeared in every tiny town and growing metropolis.
Recovery from the Great Depression led almost directly to U.S. involvement in World War II, resulting in rationing and other heartbreaks. Restaurants in Texas faced a litany of problems: food shortages, new taxes and a work force vanishing into the draft or war-production industries. With the industry and TRA focused on education and growth, as well as the technological developments of products and equipment to help make restaurants more efficient, however, the Forties closed with a new sense of optimism.
- 11 leading Texas restaurateurs meet in Dallas during the State Fair of Texas to elect officers for a new organization chartered as the State Restaurant Association of Texas.
- State Restaurant Association of Texas (SRAT) headquarters set up in Dallas
- First training program in Texas for food handlers
- First issue of The Chuck Wagon published
- SRAT divides itself into 31 districts (following Texas Senate districts)
- Dallas Restaurant Association and SRAT members protest proposed state sales tax during Texas Legislative Session
- SRAT headquarters office moved to Austin from Dallas.
- SRAT and the Texas Hotel Association agree to set a limit of one rounded teaspoon of sugar per customer order of coffee, cereal and fruit.
- Some Texas restaurateurs are forced to discontinue curb service and/or curtail hours of operation
- 1943 Convention (renamed War Clinic & Business Conference) is held in Fort Worth
- Association membership reaches 1,150
- First woman named president of a local SRAT association, Virginia King, The Snack Shop, Houston
- First policy issued in group insurance plan for SRAT members by North American Accident Insurance Company.
- The Chuck Wagon has a series of article on the best way to design a drive-in restaurant.
- SRAT officially renamed Texas Restaurant Association during Dallas Convention
The post-war era ushered in a host of products and devices, including an oral polio vaccine and the hydrogen bomb. Restaurant operators got a taste of time and labor savers such as a self-wringing sponge mop, canned milk, adhesive tape, Liquid Paper and dry mixes for breads and cakes. Geopolitical conflicts moved from Europe to Asia, while a brand new culture of Rock ‘n Roll, television and Hollywood movie stars bloomed in America.
- TRA wins award from American Trade Association Executives for its restaurant sanitation program.
- The Chuck Wagon advises restaurant operators to look to older men and women as employees as the draft resumes.
- TRA-sponsored statewide “Coffee Day” sees 176,000 cups sold, proceeds go to the National Muscular Dystrophy Research Foundation.
- TRA Institute of Management holds restaurant training programs in key cities around the state.
- Unions picket Port Arthur restaurants for 345 days; local Sabine Area Restaurant Association raises money to help impacted eateries survive.
- TRA works with Texas Employment Commission on job classifications for the industry.
- TRA adopts “Eating Out is Fun!” campaign and slogan.
- TRA directors vote to spend $60,000 for a headquarters office building and approve hiring of an executive assistant to the TRA staff.
- At the 1957 convention, 30 teenagers form “The Cool Cats,” a teenage auxiliary (later renamed the Junior Restaurateurs)
- TRA headquarters opens.
The world blasted off into outer space in the 1960s and explored advances in internal medicine and other sciences. Political assassinations ruled the day. The nuclear threat loomed large and Americans struggled with the issue of integration. The Texas restaurant industry reached cross the border to its Mexican neighbors, increased education offerings, stepped up its lobby efforts and coped with the changing face of the industry brought about by the rise of fast food and restaurant franchises.
- TRA forms the Government Affairs Committee and protest a proposed selective sales tax on restaurant meals.
- Harry Akin elected as president of the National Restaurant Association, the first from Texas or the Southwest.
- Federal Sales Tax Bill passes and Texas begins collecting a state sales tax.
- TRA Education programs now include chapter workshops on labor, food costs and cost control; vocational in-service training for industry recruits and the TRA Trade School for cooks.
- TRA holds 28 “Shirt Sleeve” sessions across the state to education owners and manager on management techniques.
- TRA holds its opening night convention in Houston’s full air-conditioned Astrodome.
- TRA members attend the ribbon cutting for the Corpus Christi Del Mar Technical Institute, a two-year restaurant management program, for which the association helped raise funds.
- The Chuck Wagon sports it’s first-ever, four-color cover.
- Governor John Connally promises TRA conventioneers he will continue his fight to pass liquor by the drink.
- G. Jim Hasslocher builds a restaurant atop the 622-foot Tower of the Americas at San Antonio’s HemisFair.
- TRA holds Drive In, Take Out, Quick Service seminar.
- An editorial in The Chuck Wagon promotes computer management applications as the next step toward profitability.
In the turbulent 1970s, the “younger generation” began rebelling against conformity, consumerism and war. Americans coped with inflation, the oil embargo and gas crisis. Franchise operations started the decade in a slump but with the advent of the drive-up window, ended the decade increasing their share of the dining dollar. The industry experienced growth as the American family began a metamorphosis. More women entered the work force and, as a result, carry-out and convenience became the buzzwords for the decade.
- Groundbreaking ceremonies for new TRA state office building.
- Conrad N. Hilton School of Hotel and Restaurant Management opens at the University of Houston.
- Texas Gov. Preston smith signs Liquor by the Drink Bill into law, a TRA-led fight for 20 years finally allowing restaurant operators to sell mixed drinks in addition to beer and wine.
- Restaurants complain about skyrocketing workmen’s comp rates.
- Texas foodservice sales top $2 billion.
- More than 460 7-Eleven stores begin to sell hot foods.
- One out of every three food dollars is spent on food prepared outside the home.TRA predicts 1975 will be the year of the sanitation scenario as health departments increase inspections and threaten to close restaurants with scores of C-59.
- TRA plans extensive statewide program of sanitation workshops.
- TRA installs a $40,000 computer system to better serve its members.
- TRA Exposition breaks the previous year’s record by more than 100 booths.
The decade – full of “firsts” and “lasts,” celebrations and crises, new trends and a return to things old-fashioned – proved both exasperating and glorious. The oil glut and S&L crisis reverberated throughout the Texas economy. Fortunes were lost and bankruptcy became commonplace as “For Lease” signs sprouted on see-through office buildings and out-of-state owners gobbled up major Texas banking corporations. Restaurants faced financial struggles but continued on a path of growth – albeit slower.
- Americans spending 4.8 percent of their total disposal income on meals outside of the home.
- A scientific advisory committee warns that certain diets appear to increase the chance of getting cancer and urges Americans to reduce their consumption of high-fat foods.
- Of the top 100 fast food markets in the U.S., Houston is ranked fifth, Dallas/Fort Worth fourth, San Antonio 40th and Austin 52nd.
- TRA forms student chapters at university and community colleges.
- The Association goes online with the TRA Network.
- Richie Jackson becomes executive vice president of TRA.
- TRA finds itself fighting local ordinances that could ban or limit smoking in public places in Addison, Houston, Corpus Christi and San Antonio.
- TRA celebrates Golden Anniversary.
- TRA hosts meetings between members and their Congressmen on labor and minimum wage concerns
- TRA leads successful legislative fight to reform the state’s workers’ compensation system.
As the 20th Century came to a close, the world’s focus seemed to be on maintaining a semblance of the status quo. As America moved into the Knowledge Age, the importance of the computer increased, although the restaurant industry lagged behind other industries in its use. The industry found itself fighting political battles on smoking ordinance, health insurance, minimum wage, and worker’s compensation at the local, state and national levels.
- TRA president John K. Miller begins membership drive to increase Association dues revenue to $1 million.
- TRA members are forewarned that the passage of the American with Disabilities Act will have a profound impact on their operations.
- TRA purchased a building and moved its headquarters to 1400 Lavaca in Austin.
- TRA began promoting its Education First program.
- TRA meets goal of $1 million in membership dues received, becoming the largest state restaurant association in the nation.
- TRA creates the Centers of Influence Program to encourage restaurant operators to be more involved with their local communities and their state.
- The TRA Education Foundation was established to start a Foodservice Academy and to help other industry educational endeavors.
- As a result of work performed by TRA beginning in 1995, restaurants are exempted from sales tax on equipment purchases.
- The TRA Education Foundation delivered its education program aimed at entry-level managers: “Boot Camp: Restaurant management for the Real World.”
- The Texas Food Industry Association Expo and the TRA Southwest Food Service Expo merge; combined show is held in Dallas.
The new millennium opened with equal amounts of excitement and fear. Concerns about Y2K events ranging from food shortages to technological and system breakdowns were widespread, but the millennium dawned with celebrations across the globe and no cataclysmic events. During this decade, the foodservice industry faced increasing concerns about food safety, the obesity epidemic and government regulation. Cities passed bans on trans-fat, restaurant chains were sued by obese consumers claiming the restaurants’ food was responsible for their condition and outbreaks of illnesses due to E.col resulted in food recalls. The industry responded positively and became more active in educating consumers and advocating before the government.
- NRA predicts restaurant industry sales will reach $576.9 billion by 2010.
- TRA launches TABC-approved online responsible alcohol service training/certification program as new TABC Seller/Server Rules are established.
- TRA/NRA partnership is formed
- Restaurants across the state contribute to relief after September 11th terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center in New York City
- Launch of TRAEF’s Entrepreneur 101 Program.
- FS Exec Conference introduced, focused on high volume independent restaurant owners and culinary professionals.
- Foodguard Manager Certification launched after Food Manager Certification Law is changed to make it mandatory for at least one person in each restaurant to be certified.
- Texas Restaurant Insurance Solution formed Restaurants across Texas donate a percentage of their profits to aid Hurricane Katrina and Hurricane Rita relief.