Buddy Lahl

Kingswood dining director takes on role as Missouri Restaurant Association CEO

 “There are not enough local workers to fully staff restaurants.”

By Sue Loudon

Buddy Lahl, Director of Dining Operations at Kingswood Senior Living in south Kansas City, will be leaving his position that  oversees eight dining rooms and a health center, to become CEO of the Missouri Restaurant Association. He has worked at the Kingswood Senior Living Center for over nine years. 

    Russell (Buddy) Lahl got his start in the restaurant business as a young boy in Quincy, Illinois in his family’s restaurant. At the age of 18 he moved to Kansas City and started his restaurant career as a dishwasher and two years later he was managing that restaurant.

   Myron Green -Treat America was his next employer where he went from managing one kitchen to overseeing 60 operations as Regional Director. 

  Myron Green-Treat America has a long history in Kansas City. Green organized a few friends in the restaurant business to protest the price of eggs going up to 65 cents a dozen in 1916. They were successful and by 1919 their organization became the Missouri Restaurant Association. This Association has grown over the years and helped restaurants survive the Covid closings. Some members were lost during this forced “carry-out” only period for restaurants, according to Lahl, who spoke briefly at a Kingswood farewell celebration on September 29. 

Buddy Lahl (left) with the Culinary Arts at Johnson County Community College, crew which catered Lahl’s farewell dinner at Kingswood Senior Center.

   “There are not enough local workers to fully staff restaurants. We need to be able to hire legal immigrants on work Visas.” said Lahl. “I also want to work on getting more benefits for young workers such as discounts at other restaurants and movie tickets.”

  The Essential Workers for Economic Advancement Act would make it easier for restaurants to hire workers for restaurants and other occupations that do not require a college degree. This temporary worker program would help restaurants fill job vacancies while providing employees with valuable training and experience. This bill has not passed yet.

   Expanding the workforce is critical to the success of the restaurant business as well as the U.S economy according to the Restaurant Association. 

   The Restaurant Association supports members with credit card processing as well as food safety education. The Association helps members with email and other marketing tips plus office supplies, music licensing, plus a labor law hotline for help with employee law issues. They have industry insurance programs to help save money for individual owners which can be passed on to restaurant customers. 

   The Association also supports lobbyists for restaurants in Jefferson City and Washington D C .  The Association has supported the credit card competition act.  Currently restaurants do not have the ability to negotiate credit card swipe fees imposed by the two dominant card companies that control 80% of the credit card sales. Credit card sales are a large, important part of restaurant sales.  These fees for restaurants have more than doubled in the last ten years because there is no competition. Some of these fees are paid by customers but not all because there is so much competition in price for restaurants.

    The “ProStart School to Career Program” was started by Buddy and is popular with schools in the South KC area. It gives restaurant experience to students while they are still in school. They are getting paid and working part time while being encouraged to stay in school. 


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