The Newport Beach Restaurant Association’s board of directors served a buffet of upbeat reports at its annual meeting this week, held at the Island Hotel in Newport Center.
Led by Board President Ronald Schwartz of Muldoon’s Irish Pub, the meeting included financial reports, a marketing report, and industry and community updates.
Comprised of more than 440 member restaurants and foodservice operators, the Newport Beach Restaurant Association was founded in 1995 and is an official Business Improvement District (BID) of the City of Newport Beach.
According to press material, The Restaurant BID is “a non-partisan, non-profit organization that brands Newport Beach dining and promotes the commercial welfare of restaurants and the foodservice industry in the City of Newport Beach. Every foodservice establishment is assessed a levy to be used toward marketing, advertising and public relations for their business and dining in Newport Beach. NBRA also provides resources, benefits and programs to its stakeholders to help their bottom line and succeed as business operators.”
The NBRA BID Financial Snapshot for fiscal year 2016-2017 to date:
• Assessments Invoiced: $197,350
• Assessments Received: $163,525 (82.9% collected)
• Late Fees Invoiced: $ 27,122
• Late Fees Received: $ 4,138
• Prior Balances Collected: $ 9,112
• Balance as of 2/28/17: $191,395
There was a discussion of how to go about collecting fees from late restaurant members. Schwartz suggested sending an official-looking “final notice” invoice, while board member and secretary Jordan Otterbein of A Restaurant volunteered to personally visit late members and remind them of their membership benefits.
It was also noted that applications for the 2017-2018 Restaurant Association Board of Directors are now being accepted. A total of 11 board seats are available to serve a one-year term from July 2017 to June 2018. Applications are being accepted through March 30 online at NewportBeach.ca.gov.
Once all applications are in, the board will be appointed by the Newport Beach City Council.
Katy Dennis from Newport Beach & Company, the entity that runs Dine Newport Beach and promotes the restaurants in partnership with the Restaurant Association, offered an overview of Newport Beach Restaurant Week, which was held over a two-week period in January.
This year, 63 restaurants participated in Restaurant Week, including 10 new ones. The advertising and PR impressions generated were 307,349,000, while estimated consumer spending was $3.4 million—a 10 percent increase over the previous year.
The media plan targeted adults ages 25 to 54 in Los Angeles, Orange County and Inland empire, and included radio, digital, social media, in-kind promotions, and print publications.
The top cities for website traffic included Irvine, Los Angeles, Newport Beach, Costa Mesa and San Diego.
Nearly 82 percent of Restaurant Week diners came from Orange County, with the rest coming from L.A., San Diego/Inland Empire, and California.
Interestingly, 76 percent of diners ordered items in addition to Restaurant Week menu items. Around 95 percent of diners thought the restaurant week menus offered good to excellent value, and 98 percent said they’d recommend it to a friend.
Board member and former NBRA President Jim Walker noted that those were impressive numbers considering the rainy weather during much of restaurant week.
The numbers from Restaurant Week were a good reminder of the importance of the restaurant business to the city of Newport Beach, although Walker noted that it’s still a challenge filling seats in restaurants.
“Based on all the restaurants that have opened recently, my guess is that on a monthly basis, we have 500,000 seats available,” he told the board. “We have a city of less than 100,000. That’s a five to one ratio, so we need five times that amount of people to fill the seats.”
The 2016-2017 Newport Beach Restaurant Association board consists of Ronald Schwartz (Muldoon’s Irish Pub), Christopher Roman (CUCINA enoteca), Dan Miller (The Village Inn), Jordan Otterbein (A Restaurant & Market), John DeFrenza (Crocker’s the Well Dressed Frank), Mario Marovic (Malarkey’s | Dory Deli | Stag Bar + Kitchen), Bruno Massuger (Back Bay Bistro), Matthew Meddock (Sessions West Coast Deli), Cathy Pavlos (Provenance), Brendon Salisbury (The Cannery | El Cholo), and Jim Walker (The Bungalow).