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It's About Time the Foodservice Industry Got a "Supersized" Dose of Respect!

Over the years the respectability of working in the quick service Industry has been called into question. Late-night talk show hosts make fun of our jobs, portraying them as being less than desirable. The nation has a new vocabulary filled with sexier sounding and better paying careers. And to work at companies like Enron and WorldCom certainly sounds better than a job at McDonalds and Starbucks.

Guess what, though? During these tough economic times, our industry still is standing and gainfully employing all our field personnel. I don’t recall the last time Applebee’ let go 3,000 managers or Wendy’s closed 500 stores, laying off thousands of hard-working cooks and managers. Our industry always has offered stable, respectable and growth-oriented careers.

We are now, and always have been, the “meat and potatoes” of the economy.

Many companies have had accounting irregularities, where stock and bondholders have been hurt. However, most of the time if a restaurant company goes bankrupt, the stores don’t close and all of the employees generally are offered positions with the new, stronger company.

Boston Market is much more diverse and growth-oriented as its new parent company, McDonalds, expands the concept. Not only were the assistant and general managers not laid off, but also they now have even better 401k and stock option plans.

What did those tech companies do for all of their laid off executives and mail-room clerks? Our industry, while not overcompensated, helps our day-to-day management make its rents and mortgage payments each month. We are not a glamorous industry, but when we wake up in the morning, The Wall Street Journal does not announce that one of our companies is closing 150 restaurants today. Managers are not the ones who are laid off and can’t find jobs, hurting the economy by adding to the nation’s unemployment ranks. That concept of job security should provide quite a sense of comfort in such difficult times.

Visits to quick-service restaurants remain activities our nation can enjoy even during a recession. The warmth and stability we provide with a $3 Happy Meal or a $3.50 Mocha Cappuccino cannot be replaced.

So remember to feel patriotic the next time you visit a Red Lobster and order 40 shrimp for $9.99. At the end of the meal, smile and tip your waiter. And then tip your hat to that manager who is not draining our economy and is providing a $10 safe haven for our families.