Tag Archives: Madison WI

The Future of Restaurants – A Challenge

submitted by Linn Roth

Greg Frank 7 29 20Greg Frank, a co-owner of the Food Fight Restaurant Group in Madison and current Treasurer of our club, gave an overview of the history of restaurants, their current status and future challenges facing the industry during these uncertain Covid-times.  Most recognize that the restaurant business can be quite difficult, and operations must survive on very low margins, typically less than 5%.  Nevertheless, restaurants are an integral part of virtually every community, and have been so since the late 18th century when the first restaurant opened in France.  The first American restaurant established, Delmonico’s in New York City, was established in 1830, and restaurants throughout the world have evolved in a variety of formats over the years.

Since 1970, restaurant sales in the US have grown from $43 billion to approximately $900 billion, with over 17 million employees working in the industry.  However, that was before the Covid crisis struck and severely impacted virtually all types of restaurants.   The situation in Madison is no different than any other area in the country.  Restaurants are struggling to change their business models and survive until the crisis has ended.   Unfortunately, lay-offs have been rampant, and other common changes include a focus on delivery and curb-side pickup, as well as outside dining whenever possible.

Regardless of when the health crisis ends, it seems likely that restaurants will be making a considerable number of changes to survive and prosper in the future, and Greg touched on several of these that we could expect to see.  For example, establishments might become smaller to reduce capital costs, incorporate new technologies (e.g. wireless links and digital menus) to improve efficiency, offer limited gourmet dining, provide prepackaged meals and drive-through pickup, and even use “ghost kitchens” that provide food to a number of establishments utilizing a single, centralized kitchen.

Certainly this industry will change significantly over the near and longer-term future, but it behooves all of us to support our local restaurants in order to enable this essential component of our community to evolve and prosper.

If you missed our meeting this week, you can watch it here: https://youtu.be/dD1t2pI3MuY.

Time for Re-Alignment in America

submitted by Jocelyn Riley

Jeremi SuriJeremy Suri, the Mack Brown Distinguished Chair for Leadership in Global Affairs and Professor of Public Affairs and History at UT-Austin and formerly a professor at UW-Madison, spoke to Rotarians virtually on Wednesday, July 22, 2020.

Professor Suri’s presentation began with his 15-year-old son, Zachary, reading a poem he’d written especially for Madison Rotarians, “I Remember When I Was Four,” about accompanying his father as his father voted in a gymnasium for Barack Obama.  Then Suri senior took over and outlined what he posits are the four major re-alignments in American history:  the post-Civil War period, the great depression of 1893, and the 1932 election (which followed the 1929 crash).  Suri predicts that we are in the middle of the fourth great alignment in American history because of four factors:  1) The party in power if abjectly failing to do what it promised; 2) Historical demographic changes; 3) The problem of race and a new consciousness of race; and 4) Institutions at all levels don’t work the way they used to and there is bound to be a re-alignment.

Suri thinks this re-alignment will manifest itself in three areas:  1) The health-care system, which is more expensive than most others with worse outcomes; 2) The economy, which is not as innovative as it used to be and is also inequitable. 3)

The issue of leadership (Suri said that he would exchange his students at both UT-Austin and UW-Madison for everyone in the two state legislatures and thinks that would improve the legislatures).

Suri ended his presentation on an optimistic note with a paraphrased version of Winston Churchill’s famous quip: “Americans can always be counted on to do the right thing, after they’ve exhausted every other option.”

If you missed our meeting this week, you can watch it here:  https://youtu.be/h_gOfsqqons.

Racial Justice: Then, Now and Forward

submitted by Valerie Renk

Annette Miller 7 15 20Rotarians were challenged July 15 by Annette Miller to be part of the equity solution.

“We have historically denied racism existed and that we were personally accountable,” Miller said. “But we have the capacity to learn and now unlearn racist behavior.  People may doubt what you say but they will always believe what you do.

Miller suggested we think about what is the work for you? What do you need to learn to unlearn old habits?  How do we deconstruct old systems based on people’s looks or zip codes whether they rent for example?  We can grow together without the lens of racism.

What can Rotary do?  “Look to the four-way test,” Miller outlines:

  1. Truth: Are we offering all truths? The truth is when white people call the police they respond. When people of color interact with police, outcomes are not always good.
  2. What’s the difference between fair and equitable? Fair is everyone getting the same. Equitable means offering what they need.
  3. Push yourself to meet new types of people, learn their stories. Move from fear zone to learning zone such as how the GI Bill benefited 8 million primarily white veterans with education, unemployment insurance and housing but didn’t benefit millions of veterans of color. Redlining is another devastating disparity example.
  4. Be prepared to be in the growth zone; it’s ok to make mistakes as long as you try. Use your influence at work, Rotary, with family…especially your kids…to find out what they know and how we can be better.

“We are all in this together,” Miller closed with.

Miller lives in Madison with life partner, Mike, and their three children. Annette launched EQT By Design focusing on developing diverse, inclusive, sustainable strategies in public engagement, equitable community development projects and organizational cultural change management. Annette obtained her BA from UW-Madison in 1992, and MS in 2017 from Edgewood College.

Our thanks to Annette Miller for her presentation this week and to Valerie Renk for preparing this review article.  If you missed our meeting this week, you can watch it here:  https://youtu.be/eV–yUaCnLg

  Here is a link to key slides from Annette’s presentation:  https://drive.google.com/file/d/1ChdhqYzOfeyquRXgqBbjs7ZUUGlCNinF/view?usp=sharing and a link to additional resources:  https://docs.google.com/document/d/1ygjl79fR3PN99MROmCWCSyO_UtDJ7MSOOiF5Wbawu5E/edit.

Meet Our New President: Jorge Hidalgo

Hidalgo_JorgeAs we begin a new Rotary year on July 1, we wanted to share some background on our new president. 

Jorge Hidalgo joined our Rotary Club in 2014 and is president of Wilde East Towne Honda. Previously, he was a Harley-Davidson Executive.  He is a graduate of the United States Military Academy at West Point with a Bachelor of Science degree in Economics and received his Master’s degree in Operations Management from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.  He served in the U.S. Army for more than 12 years as an Infantry Officer where he was an Army Ranger and Airborne Jumpmaster.  Jorge has served on the Board of Directors and as President of the Sun Prairie Chamber of Commerce; served as Vice President of Fisher House of Wisconsin; and has been board president for the Wisconsin Heartland Honda Dealers Advertising Association.  He is a recipient of the 2016 Latino Entrepreneur of the Year Award by the Latino Chamber of Commerce and the 2019 Sun Prairie Chamber of Commerce Community Business Leader Award.

In Rotary, Jorge has served on our Strategic Planning, Welcoming and Veteran’s Assistance Committees and was elected to our board of directors for a 2018-2020 term.  He also participates in the Hiking/Skiing, Scotch Whisky and Sporting Clays Fellowship Groups and is chair of the Veterans Fellowship Group.

Jorge was born in the Dominican Republic, grew up in New York City and now lives in Sun Prairie with his wife, Andrea.  They have 3 adult children and eight grandchildren.  Here are some details reprinted from the Wilde East Towne Honda website that provide insights into Jorge:

“My favorite band:  The Eagles.
Three Words that describe me:  Duty, Honor, Country.
My childhood dream job was:  To be a professional baseball player.
If you could spend the day with one person, deceased or alive, I would choose:  My son, Daren, who was killed in Afghanistan (while serving his country in 2011).
Favorite TV shows:  “Walking Dead” and “Blue Bloods.”
We welcome Jorge Hidalgo as President during our 108th Rotary year!

Jorge Outlines His Plans for Upcoming Rotary Year:  “Respect the Individual”

I know that the current pandemic has affected all of us, and every aspect of our lives—so it’s natural that our Club has been affected too.  We haven’t been able to meet in person for a while, and the road to returning to full-Club in-person meetings will be slow, and it will be gradual. But we’re resilient and we have adapted, with committees, fellowship groups and even our Wednesday meetings taking place virtually.  It may not be ideal, but it’s a way to stay engaged with Rotary at a time when our Club needs our support. 

As your President, I plan to remind us all of why Rotary matters, and mention one great thing Rotary has done each and every week. I also plan to highlight Members in the News each week from the podium, to celebrate the active role we play in the community.  I want our meetings to be fun and upbeat; I want us to laugh more often.  I’m sure whatever problems we’re dealing with every morning will still be waiting for us when we get back to the office after lunch; let Rotary be a little break from that stress.  If our average age wasn’t 107 I’d call it recess—but even though “recess” doesn’t fit, you still get the idea.  We’ll try new things, and not all of them may work—but we’ll keep trying till we make it work!  We’ll even address members’ questions and concerns brought up on the member survey.  We’ll have speakers that address a broad range of topics, including not only social issues but also leadership, history, business, inspirational life experiences, scientific discovery, and artistic pursuits. 

There’s no shortage of things that draw divisions among people; different political and religious beliefs, different views on social and economic issues—and we absolutely MUST respect our differences, and respect each other, first and foremost, as individuals.  So to be crystal clear, my theme for this year is “Respect the Individual.”  We need to spend more time on discovering what brings us together:  I want us to get to know each other better, discover things we have in common, and celebrate our accomplishments: One of the many ways to do this is by asking a new member to introduce a long-time Rotarian once a month.  Among our members we have a Freedom Rider from the Civil Rights movement and someone who discovered a life-saving medical procedure, engineers and artists, veterans of foreign wars and Peace Corps volunteers; there’s a lot we can learn about and from each other.  And let’s not get all greedy; we need to give others a chance to be part of this great Rotary Club: Each of us should set a goal of recruiting one member to Rotary this year; just one, though if you bring in more I promise I won’t get mad at you. 

I want to thank you for trusting me with our Club’s leadership and let’s all work together to have a great Rotary year! 

Andrea Kaminski’s Reflections on Year as Rotary President

Kaminski Picture1The past year has been a whirlwind of challenge and of change, starting with my unexpected appointment as club President and ending with our Rotary Club poised to transition back to in-person meetings as the pandemic continues. It has been my honor to be club President through this time. I’ve had the opportunity to experience firsthand our Rotary Club as a place where members CONNECT, SERVE and GROW.

Since I joined Rotary in 2013, I have valued the many new CONNECTIONS and friendships that have enhanced my life, whether through committee work, the hiking/skiing fellowship, community service projects, or my time on the board and as President. I’ve found that the more engaged I’ve been, and the more people I’ve worked, sung, chatted and laughed with, the more I’ve been able to learn and grow.

In my SERVICE to the club, I’ve learned that in Rotary you never have to meet a new challenge alone. As soon as I became President, several Past Presidents stepped up and offered their support. I would have been lost without the assistance, in particular, of Jason Beren and Pat Jenkins. And I want to give a special shout-out to Stacy Nemeth for setting the stage for this Rotary year through her diligent strategic planning work last year as President-Elect. Club service is a great way to get to know people and to help make our club a better place for a diversity of community leaders to connect, serve and grow.

I have GROWN through Rotary, especially in this past year. Here are some things I had to learn as President:

  • I’ve learned that you need to hit the wider bottom part of the Rotary bell, not the narrow top part, if you want people to hear it. Not a big deal — it was just embarrassing!
  • I’ve learned there are two strong stances represented in our club membership regarding singing at Rotary. I became President just when it was decided to try cutting back on our music. I hope we have arrived at a compromise that all members enjoy.
  • The same goes for the Question & Answer periods with our speakers. That was a hot topic last summer, but I hope members are comfortable with our current approach.
  • I’ve learned some technology, in particular how to pre-record my portion of the weekly meetings, so we could continue to meet online through the pandemic. Brian Basken and Jason Beren have done yeoman’s work to develop the technology needed to uphold the professional standards our weekly meetings are known for. This month Brian and Jason moved to live-streaming the meeting from Pearson Engineering, where they work. Next month we plan to live-stream our meetings with a limited number of members attending in person, abiding by good social distancing, while all others may participate from home.
  • I’ve also learned from Teresa Holmes, Charles Tubbs and others about complex racial justice issues facing our community. I’ve learned from Karen Kendrick-Hands and Larry Hands about environmental sustainability. These are important issues we must address, and I value the opportunity to connect with people who know far more than I do.

Going forward, I believe the most important goal for our Rotary Club is that of striving to be more actively welcoming to all leaders in our community. In a few minutes you’ll hear from the Racial Equity and Inclusion committee that our intentional efforts in that area are working.  To continue that progress, we need to accept that what has been comfortable in the past is not — and was not — comfortable for everyone. Good intentions are not enough. I’ve learned that we need to actively educate ourselves and speak out when we see injustice or hate. For white Rotarians like me who have benefited all our lives from the privilege of our race, this requires some humility to understand that there is a lot we don’t understand. The hard work is still ahead of us, and it’s good that we’ll have the steady leadership and vision of Jorge Hidalgo and then Mark Moody in the years to come.

With intention, patience and kindness as we work toward change, we will come closer to the Rotary Four-Way Test and build a club that is fair, that builds goodwill and better friendships, and is beneficial to all concerned.  Thank you.

Wrapping Up Our Rotary Year – Virtually!

submitted by Ellsworth Brown

Thump5Well!  This was quite a meeting.

It was more of an elegant hand-off than the usual changing of the guard from President Andrea Kaminski to new President Jorge Hidalgo, featuring inspiring reports of accomplishments well-earned by the Club and well-directed by President Andrea.

But first . . . this recap only suggests the substance of the meeting, which was recorded and is available at https://youtu.be/MoH8PYLW__E.

President Andrea began with an uplifting recital of six new members and their credentials:  LaVar Charleston, U. W. Madison; Sara Eskrich, Democracy Found; Amy Griffin, Madison Museum of Contemporary Art; Rob Roquitte, eCIO, Inc; and Angela Trevino, UW Health and Clinics.  It was especially nice to see the swelling stream of welcoming messages in the presentation’s adjacent comments box.

The second opening order of business was the presentation our Rotary Club’s International Service Award—pin and plaque—to Joyce Bromley for her engagement in international service projects of the club.  Congratulations, Joyce!

In her formal closing remarks, President Andrea recognized the continuing tech work of Brian Basken and Jason Beren, who silently present what we view each week.  She also listed a series of personal take-aways from her presidential year, among them “hit the bell at the bottom, not the top, to make it ring,” how to compromise on matters of music and program Q&A, how to master tech from home, and especially how much her presidential experience has given her joy and broad connections.

Many were thanked, reinforcing her primary revelation that willing help was always available.  Please read President Andrea’s remarks for a list of key people for the past year.

Also read Jorge’s remarks, which were constructive, thoughtful and clear.  They were preceded, direct from Florida, by unexpected comments and congratulations to the club’s first Latino President by former member Dora Zuniga, who asked Jorge to join the club six years ago.

President Jorge (sounds great, doesn’t it, Jorge?) introduced himself—born in the Dominican Republic, a West Point economics graduate who served in the Army for eleven years, a resident of New York City and now the well-known owner of an award-winning Honda Dealership.  Only President Jorge could make this list of achievements sound humble!  He pledged to try new things, further the consideration of large questions before us all now, ensure a wide variety of programs, and move through the coming year on the platform of respect for the individual.  This platform is linked to Jorge’s assertion that in addition to club members’ immediate work, we bring a vast array of additional experiences, knowledge and achievement that should also be shared.

Other reports included Mary Thompson’s PowerPoint presentation of our very important membership satisfaction survey; and Bog Sorge’s presentation of the membership development committee, which has introduced several new ideas and a comprehensive concept of how to gain new members from a position of strength (great video, Paul Ranola, who created the video, and you can view it at the same link above.

Of course, the meeting included the usual array of past presidents, pin presentations, and a very nice gift certificate to Andrea (sorry, no longer president . . . but “didn’t I see you on the Internet?”) for the Madison Museum of Contemporary Art store.

Oh, and Melanie Ramey spoke about things she has learned during the pandemic . . . NOW will you connect to the link above?

Well done, Andrea and Jorge!

Our thanks to past president Ellsworth Brown for preparing this review article and if you missed our meeting this week, you can watch the video here:  https://youtu.be/MoH8PYLW__E.