Not everyone who wants to attend the Walk this year is able to make the timing work.
Craig Kunisch, immediate past chair of the New Jersey Restaurant & Hospitality Association, has to miss it due to a scheduling conflict with the National Restaurant Association Public Affairs Conference. That conference was bumped up to early March from its usual dates in April, and Kunisch said it’s not easy for NJRHA members and representatives to take off from their day jobs two weeks in a row.
They’re hands on at their restaurants, after all, as Kunisch is at the Allendale Bar & Grill and Mahwah Bar & Grill.
For missing the Walk, Kunisch said he and fellow NJRHA folks are “bummed.”
“We always loved it because we got to meet a lot of different people, legislators and other associations. It was more of a pride thing for us – we’re the hospitality industry, and we’d represent the industry by bringing food onto the train, and really displaying ‘come to our car because the restaurants are there,’ showing people who we are. It’s a little different than those walking up and down. We were there reminding everyone that we’re the hospitality industry and we’re the ones who provide the jobs,” Kunisch said.
For the NJRHA, the Walk has been about putting a face to the name of legislators and for legislators to put a face to the industry, thus allowing for “great meetings in Trenton” when everyone was back in town.
The Chamber Train leaves the station Feb. 27, and our coverage begins in the Feb. 24 issue with a preview of the trip. It continues on the train with the NJBIZ Podcast; if you’re riding, stop by car No. 2 to meet members of our staff.
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- Sharper focus: CSG’s Dennis Toft thinks NJCC’s moves will make this year’s event even more useful
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“We have an advocacy day in Trenton each year, and that becomes much more productive because of the conversations and introductions on the train,” Kunisch said.
In 2019, the NJRHA’s biggest accomplishment in Kunisch’s eyes was shaping the paid leave legislation to work from both an industry and employee standpoint.
“I thought that was an incredible partnership of business leaders and legislative really coming together and getting something accomplished, something that was substantial for the employees but worked well for the employers. It was a perfect piece of common sense legislation, and we did a lot of work on that,” he said.
Kunisch touted the Walk as a “social atmosphere [where] there doesn’t seem to be political sides or people drawing hard lines in the sand,” and said that on the Walk, “the stuffiness is out of the room.”
Now, without the restaurant association folks in tow, who’s bringing the snacks?