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The Whole Enchilada: Restaurant Industry Fattens New Mexico's Economy

By Allison Wilson

The restaurant industry in New Mexico employs more than 85,000 people and brings in more than 3 billion dollars in sales annually. It also serves up some of the most colorful and flavorful cuisine in the country. Overseeing it all is the New Mexico Restaurant Association, or NMRA.

The NMRA's mission is to "empower the food and beverage industry by promoting and protecting common values and interests." Membership is open to any foodservice-related business. The organization has more than 1,000 members and is governed by a volunteer Board of Directors, selected from members in each Congressional district throughout the state. Members engage in state and national political action and have access to education, training, benefits, and special events targeted to the industry. Membership perks include regular news alerts, food safety and alcohol service training, customer engagement, and restaurant insurance.

NMRA CEO Carol Wright knows from experience how valuable benefits like this can be.

"As a former restaurant owner and operator, I saw firsthand how much restaurants benefitted from having a guiding organization that promoted and protected their interests," she says. "I wanted to be a direct part of that process and am proud that NMRA acts as an educator, advocate and sounding board for the great restaurants in New Mexico."

In a recent message to members, Wright announced that the NMRA followed 100 bills throughout the 2015 legislative session. The organization is now focusing its advocacy efforts on the Albuquerque City Council "Fair" Workweek Act to oppose any form of labor law at the city level. On the education front, NMRA has partnered with NRA and ServSafe to offer Alcohol Server Certification online and gave nearly $20,000 in college scholarships as part of the ProStart program.

When asked what makes the cuisine in New Mexico so unique, Wright had this to say: "When a server asks you if you want 'red or green,' the choice you make can change the entire taste of the meal. New Mexico offers the awidest array of dining choices-from fine exquisite dining to dishes that taste just like your grandma made. You always feel like you are coming home."

As for Wright's favorite dish: "I love red chile enchiladas. They seem simple, but the complexity of flavor is really appealing. Add an egg on top, and it's heaven!"

In September, NMRA will host its annual Hospitality Industry Awards, recognizing and celebrating "the individuals, teams and businesses that are shaping the hospitality industry" in New Mexico." The organization will also be celebrating technology and its impact on the industry.

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Allison Wilson is an award-winning writer and communications professional whose...

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