ATLANTA — The Georgia Restaurant Association (GRA) has announced that president and CEO Karen Bremer will retire on Jan. 16, 2024, after 13 years with the organization and 50 years in the hospitality industry. During her tenure at the helm of GRA, Bremer heightened awareness of the restaurant industry’s positive impact on the state’s economy.
“On behalf of the board of directors, we want to thank Karen for her leadership and impact over the last 13 years with the GRA,” said Justin Triplett, chairman of the board. “While we’re certainly going to miss Karen, we are a much stronger organization and industry as a result of her leadership. We wish her the best in her retirement and look forward to the road ahead.”
A champion for the industry, Bremer assembled a successful team at GRA that came together to speak to and petition Georgia’s elected officials. Under her leadership, GRA was instrumental in finding solutions to keep restaurateurs and competitors coming together in a strategic grassroots advocacy approach to stay in business during COVID-19. Through her leadership and deep relationships as a lobbyist, she played a pivotal role in forming coalitions with other state organizations to get major bills passed such as the Brunch Bill, Merlot to Go and Cocktails to Go. GRA also helped to champion COVID liability protection; drove the adoption of Georgia’s IRS code to treat Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans and Restaurant Revitalization Funds as nontaxable income; helped champion COVID liability protection; worked across municipalities and counties to suggest and support executive orders to assist local restaurants with survival; and worked in conjunction with the governor’s office and the Georgia Department of Public Health in creating COVID reopening rules for employee and guest safety.
“Karen Bremer has taken the Georgia Restaurant Association from a small, fledging association to a respected organization at the state capitol,” says Kathy Kazuva, president of Georgia Food Industry Association. “She has led the industry during the challenges of the pandemic and advocated tirelessly to assist her members with state and local officials to re-open safely. Karen is known for her passionate commitment to GRA restaurant owners, and the association has been lucky to have her dedicated leadership for many years.”
Under Bremer’s guidance, GRA fostered relationships with organizations that represent the sale of alcoholic beverages to ensure a cooperative spirit prevailed to create a better food service industry in Georgia. Among GRA’s other successes were:
- Protecting Fuel Choice to ensure restaurants, businesses, personal homes, etc. will have options on the type of energy that can be used on the property
- Supporting legislation permitting private businesses to allow workers to use optional sick leave to assist with sick family members
- Defeating a 300% City of Atlanta Alcohol permit increase
- Passing legislation to ensure that third-party delivery companies must have awritten agreement with the restaurant to deliver its food. Georgia’s 21,000 restaurants now have a choice of who is going market, sell and deliver food to guests.
- Leading Georgia Governor Brian Kemp’s Georgia Safety Promise, a public-private partnership and safety campaign to remind Georgia businesses and the public of the importance of following COVID-19 safety guidelines
- Raising over $631,000 in advocacy funds
Bremer has served on numerous restaurant industry boards and garnered many awards over the years. She was named one of Nation’s Restaurant News’ Most Influential Solution Providers in the Country in 2021; among Georgia Trend’s Most Influential 100 in Georgia for the past eight years; and one of James Magazine’s Top 40 Lobbyists (17th). Bremer also led the GRA team to be among James Magazine’s Top 100 Trade Associations (30th).
Before leading the organization, Bremer was a founding member and served as a past president of the GRA board. During her career, she was the owner of Dailey’s and City Grill restaurants and a top executive, and ultimately president, of Peasant Restaurant Group.
GRA will announce Bremer’s successor at a later date.