Tonight, everyone was in good spirits at Salomé on Main, an event center located at the core of the Rio Grande Valley. Owned and operated by Larry and Jessica Delgado, they generously hosted the Texas Restaurant Association (TRA), alongside their non-profit sector, the Texas Restaurant Foundation (TRF), in their annual President’s Dinner. During which multiple high ranking members of the association gave discourse, including Joe Monastero, chief operating officer for the TRF and Jonathan Horowitz, a chairman of the TRA.
The occasion hosted a diverse group of attendees, including local community figures such as city of McAllen mayor, Javier Villalobos and Congresswoman, Monica De La Cruz, representative for the Texas 15th Congressional District. However, the majority of populace present were local restaurant owners, for whom the night’s message was tailored to, being that they’re the backbone of whom and what the Texas Restaurant Association represents.
In Texas, the TRA and TRF are renown for their advocacy and support of the restaurant industry, serving the individuals within it. While also bringing advancement and innovation into the field. The way it works, is that restaurant owners or entrepreneurs can choose to become members by paying a monthly fee. With such, they are at the disposal of the many services and networking which the association provides. A fee which, according to restaurant owners, is highly worth it, due to the incredible support which the TRA is able to provide. Among them is Gabriel Fuentes, who, alongside his wife, is the owner of Nuri Fusion Street Kitchen, an Asian restaurant located in north McAllen. In an interview, Mr. Fuentes, stated that the TRA has been a crucial source of guidance for his business, “from legal advice to structuring business”, which is how according to him, is how they’ve “been able to grow the business”. A story of success and aid on behalf of the TRA’s deliverance.
Carrying a similar sentiment, Jessica Delgado, who has run Salomé with her husband since 2019, shared her view on the TRA, stating that without the association, she “truly does not believe they would still be open today”, as on the backdrop of COVID-19, it was the actions taken by the association, which helped her keep the business afloat. Among the efforts, were the political actions taken by the association during the shutdown. Efforts in Austin and D.C. to loosen and change restrictions in favor of the restaurants. An example noted by Mrs. Delgado were the TRA’s actions in persuading Governor Abbot in loosening restrictions on alcohol, allowing alcohol to be served on the go, which Mrs. Delgado described as a “blessing” to her and her business.
Talks of perseverance and success were avid staples of the night’s discussion. However, it was the ideal of moving forward, into a better tomorrow, that really emanated from the discourse. As stated by Russel Woodward, chairman of the foundation, it is their mission to provide “opportunities, funding, and grants” in an effort to “grow the restaurant business”, achieved by creating a strong foundation for those present or seeking to join the industry. Hence, through their giving, they hope to create further incentive for people to join and remain within the business. Furthermore, in an interview, Jonathan Horowitz, chairman for the association, stated that the vision for the TRA in the Rio Grande Valley is to expand its influence “in the local politics and business” of the region, believing that the TRA has a “great future ahead for the area”. Aspiring to a future where the association is able to provide better support for the local restaurant community. All in all, the Annual President’s dinner of the Texas Restaurant Association and Foundation, was a celebration of the progress made by the restaurant industry, in the face of both struggle and prosperity, while highlighting the essential role which the association played in doing so. Even more so, the event was a message for all restaurant owners in the area, that the TRA is there to serve you and your business, providing all range of services, from consulting and advising, to funding, all on the way to a more prosperous tomorrow for the industry, the community, and the people within it.