MRM Talking With: Andrew Rigie, Executive Director of the New York City Hospitality Alliance

The 2nd annual New York City Hospitality Alliance Awards recognizing and celebrating the New York City hospitality industry will take place Monday, May 8.  The awards are dedicated to celebrating restaurants, bars and nightclubs and the professionals who run them in all five boroughs. The trade association was formed in 2012 to foster the growth and vitality of the industry that has made New York City the “Hospitality Capital of the World.” It It is the first association ever formed in New York City representing all facets of this diverse industry: restaurants, bars, lounges, destination hotels and major industry suppliers.

Modern Restaurant Management magazine asked Andrew Rigie, the Executive Director of the New York City Hospitality Alliance why the awards are important and challenges the New York City restaurant industry is facing. 

Rigie grew up working at his family’s fourth generation bakery & cafe in Queens, NY, Andrew was destined for a career in the hospitality industry. He later “got his apron dirty” by working multiple positions within the industry, before joining the New York State Restaurant Association (NYSRA) in 2004.  He is a graduate of the Institute of Culinary Education, New York, NY

At NYSRA he recruited and served members by providing a myriad of resources and consulting services to NYC’s restaurant operators, chefs and industry providers.  In 2009, he took the helm as Executive Vice President of the New York City operations for the 75+ year old organization and in 2012, Rigie accepted a position to launch the independent alliance. In addition to his executive duties, he serves on multiple committees relating to hospitality, is a vocal industry advocate and recognized commentator for local, national and international media inquiries relating to New York City’s hospitality industry. 

What is the mission of the New York City Hospitality Alliance?

The NYC Hospitality Alliance advocates to reduce regulatory burdens and represents the industry in the halls of government and the media. We publish information and host trainings to ensure our members are up-to-date on laws and trends and we curate events that foster networking and economic opportunity.

Andrew Rigie

Members support our political advocacy and gain access to a suite of resources and services developed for the industry, by the industry.

Why should someone become a member?

The city’s hospitality industry is vital to the economic footprint and social landscape of New York City. The growing number of laws, regulations and liabilities continues to weigh down on restaurant and nightlife operators – so it’s more important than ever that our industry is united and has a professional organization like The Alliance to represent them, to keep them informed of the changing business landscape, provide them support and services, and create a community for them to network.

What is the origin of the New York City Hospitality Alliance Awards?

We wanted to recognize and honor all of the incredible contributions and accomplishments of our city’s hospitality industry. The event is created by the hospitality industry, for the hospitality industry, and is specific to New York City.  The awards ceremony includes unique categories such as the Determination Award, which recognizes an individual who started at an entry-level job in the industry and is now in a leadership role; the True Taste Award, which spotlights an iconic NYC dish; and the Philanthropy Served Here Award, which goes to a charitable organization whose work helps to make the neighborhoods throughout New York City a more hospitable place.  This year, we are honored to give this award to City Harvest. The event is also a very fun evening for the industry to join together and celebrate in an amazing environment. It also helps raise funds to support The Alliance’s vital mission. 

What do you see as key challenges affecting the hospitality industry in New York City?

  • Real estate costs
  • Laws and regulations
  • Labor shortage
  • Intense competition

Are there different drivers affecting the individual boroughs?

There are many common drivers affecting the industry that I touched on in other questions, but some of the issues are more profound in specific boroughs and can change neighborhood to neighborhood – or even block to block. 

How do you see technology impacting New York City’s hospitality industry in the near future?

Technology is currently having a profound impact on the city’s hospitality industry, whether it’s new reservation platforms or guest analytic systems that allow restaurants to further customize the guest experience while maximizing operational efficiencies and revenues.  Workforce and employee management and compliance systems are becoming more and more important and adopted within the industry, and they will continue to do so. The Alliance recently launched our own technology platform called COM.PLY Restaurant Compliance Management. COM.PLY helps our members manage the renewal of the permits and licenses, as well as their health department inspections to help them earn and  keep their A letter grade. We also have the Hospitality Technology Award as part of our line-up – it highlights technology platforms that enhance the way the hospitality industry operates. This year’s nominees are SendaGuy Now, SevenRooms, and xtraChef.

What do you love about the New York City restaurant, bar and nightclub landscape?

To name a few – the food, service, people, passion, entrepreneurial spirit and vibrancy. But this list goes on and on!

What does hospitality mean to you?

Welcoming and caring. 

The 2nd annual New York City Hospitality Alliance Awards recognizing and celebrating the New York City hospitality industry will take place Monday, May 8.  For ticket information, click here