The Oklahoma Restaurant Association, founded in 1933 when a small group of 74 restaurant and cafeteria operators met to discuss issues within the industry, has now grown to include more than 4,500 member restaurant units and foodservice entities. These members are truly a cornerstone in Oklahoma’s economy. As the state’s largest private-sector employer, Oklahoma’s foodservice industry employs over 172,000 people or 10% of the total job base, according to a report by the National Restaurant Association. Research shows that one-third of all adults have worked in the foodservice industry at some time during their lives. These jobs lead to a continued growth in disposable personal income that, in turn, leads to more people dining out. And people are definitely dining out; in 2016, the ORA expects state restaurant sales to exceed $5.5 billion in sales. Additionally, within Oklahoma every dollar spent in these establishments generates an additional $1.13 of sales for the state economy. Each additional $1 million spent in eating-and-drinking places in Oklahoma generates an additional 26.3 jobs in the state.
The ORA is recognized as one of the largest and most effective organizations in Oklahoma. With a strong presence at the state capitol, the ORA constantly monitors regulatory and legislative issues. Member services include food safety and alcohol server training, a video and reference lending library, group insurance programs, educational seminars, special bulletins and the state’s largest trade show.