Scott Dolch, Executive Director, Connecticut Restaurant Association

Scott Dolch Connecticut Restaurant Association

In April, 2018, The Connecticut Restaurant Association (CRA) named Scott Dolch as its new executive director. Dolch is entrusted with leading CRA’s efforts in promoting, protecting and improving the state’s restaurant industry. He takes control of the organization just as it’s in the middle of a major lobbying effort to block legislation that would raise the state’s minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2021.

Scott Dolch has more than 15 years experience in sales, marketing and communications working for the Travelers Championship, the University of Connecticut, the University of Massachusetts Lowell and, most recently, the University of Hartford.

Farmington-based CRA said it represents the state’s restaurant industry, which employs more than 150,000 workers and generates more than $7.5 billion annually. Total Food Service sat down with Scott Dolch to discuss key issues, government support, and important upcoming events for the Connecticut Restaurant Association.


What are some of the key issues that your members are facing?

Restaurant owners and operators are concerned with the future direction of the state, as some of the recent legislative mandates have made it difficult for small businesses to operate in our state. As the Executive Director of the Connecticut Restaurant Association, it is vital for me to advocate to our state legislators every day. They need to know that growth in the restaurant and hospitality industry will benefit everyone in Connecticut.

Some of the key issues that we were successful in lobbying against during the recent 2018 legislative session were:

  • Minimum Wage Increases
  • Tip Wage Increases
  • Expansion of Paid Sick Leave
  • Predictive Scheduling
  • Paid Family Medical Leave
  • Added Sexual Harassment Training
  • Added Allergy Awareness & Training
  • Surveillance Video Legislation
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We at the CRA pride ourselves on being the “Industry of Opportunity.” These proposed legislative mandates would have had a negative impact not only on our industry, but on the entire state.

All we hear about is the $15 min wage in NYC… is it on the table in CT?

Minimum Wage is currently $10.10 per hour in Connecticut (9th Highest in the Country) and the minimum tip-wage for a server is $6.38 and a bartender is $8.23. State legislators tried to pass a bill that would have increased minimum wage up to $15 and the tip-wage would have increased, as it is tied to the state’s minimum wage. We at the CRA made a strong push to oppose any increases to minimum wage. Proposed increases would cause restaurant owners to make tough decisions in order to survive. This would include cutting jobs, decreasing hours for employees and increased costs to the consumers. Also, this increase would eliminate opportunities for first-time job seekers and non-skilled workers.

As we look at the replacement for Governor Malloy, without endorsing a specific candidate, what is CRA looking for?

Unfortunately, Connecticut’s economic growth and performance has been in the news recently for all of the wrong reasons. The U.S Bureau of Economic Analysis reported that the state’s GDP shrank 0.2%, which is the second worst performance in the country. Also, Connecticut has recovered just 80% of all jobs lost in the 2008-2010 recession, which is the slowest recovery in New England.

The CRA is looking for leaders who will make the states’ economy a top priority. Small businesses need less mandates and added support from our elected officials in order for them to grow. We are hopeful that a positive change in leadership will help put Connecticut in the news for all of the right reasons, as it is a great place to live and work.

What’s the CRA’s position on legalizing marijuana? And sports gambling?

Neither of these two issues are top priorities for the CRA, but we are keeping a close eye on both pieces of legislation, not only in Connecticut, but throughout the country. We are consistently communicating with other states’ restaurant associations and the National Restaurant Association to see how these mandates and other mandates have affected the restaurant and hospitality industry in those areas.

What events are upcoming on the CRA calendar that our reader should know about?

Our two big annual events each year are:

  • 2018 CRA Golf Classic – Tuesday, June 26 at Country Club of Waterbury
  • 2018 Salute to Excellence Awards – Monday, December 3 at Foxwoods Resort Casino

Also, I’m trying to get out around the state to meet with past, present and future members. Our first-kickoff networking event will be held in Fairfield County and hosted by CRA Board Member Michael Marchetti at his restaurant, Columbus Park in Stamford. The event will be on Monday, June 25 beginning at 4pm and we are encouraging all restaurant owners and operators in the area to attend.

Any new benefits that potential members should know about?

In addition to the advocacy that we provide on behalf of our members, I’m working hard on the current and future partner benefits that will help Connecticut Restaurateurs succeed. My goal is to increase the services we can provide for all of our partners, these services includes food vendors, healthcare, legal services, liquor permitting, job board, payroll processing, marketing services, energy suppliers, POS technology, credit card processing and much more.

Why should a restaurant consider membership?

The CRA has a proven record of protecting industry interests as we strive to improve the business environment for restaurants by advocating on a slate of national, state and local issues. We are constantly working to improve the restaurant industry, provide better support and cultivate the next generation of foodservice leaders. The goal is to provide as much value as possible to all of our members.

What’s the next step for an operator that would like more info?

CTRestaurant.org… but I would give them my personal email (dolch@ctrestaurant.org), as I want to try to meet as many restaurateurs face-to-face as I can. Taking the time to meet people one-on-one in the industry will not only help me succeed as an Executive Director, but will help us achieve the goals of the CRA.

The CRA is looking for leaders who will make the states’ economy a top priority. Small businesses need less mandates and added support from our elected officials in order for them to grow. We are hopeful that a positive change in leadership will help put Connecticut in the news for all of the right reasons, as it is a great place to live and work.


To learn more about the Connecticut Restaurant Association and meet with Scott Dolch, visit their website to attend upcoming events.