The National Restaurant Association announced a partnership with the Fast Casual Alliance (FCA), an industry group that works to advance the business of fast-casual restaurants and raise consumer awareness, at the Fast Casual Executive Summit in Dallas. The group will be integrated into the association’s structure to become the Fast Casual Alliance—An NRA Industry Council and will serve as a model for development of future National Restaurant Association industry councils. Former NRA Chairman Michael Kaufman gave a special address to Summit attendees, underscoring the importance of collaboration within the diverse restaurant industry to reach common goals.

“We are thrilled to partner with the Fast Casual Alliance and bring then into the National Restaurant Association fold to work more effectively to advance business opportunities and the public image of the restaurant industry at large,” says Dawn Sweeney, president and CEO of the National Restaurant Association. “We believe this integration of organizations will be beneficial for members of both by expanding our reach and impact together.”

“This move is a great first step toward developing a framework of specialized industry councils within the National Restaurant Association,” says Michael Gibbons, chairman of the National Restaurant Association and president and CEO of Mainstreet Ventures Inc. “Each segment of our diverse industry has unique challenges and opportunities, and convening groups within these segments will provide a better understanding of the industry as a whole. The Fast Casual Alliance has done an exceptional job advancing fast-casual restaurant operations for the last several years, and we are looking forward to advancing a common agenda.”

“We are very excited about the opportunity to partner with the National Restaurant Association on this pilot program,” says Louis Basile, president of the FCA and president and CEO of Wildflower Bread Company. “When we discussed this with our current board members the level of support and enthusiasm was overwhelming supportive. We believe the council model will not only strengthen the fast casual segment but most importantly provide additional support and resources to assist the National Restaurant Association in continuing to move our industry forward.”

As the Fast Casual Alliance—An NRA Industry Council, the group’s goal is to convene senior executives from the fast-casual segment of the restaurant industry to discuss common concerns and advise the National Restaurant Association on how the overall industry’s priority issues would impact fast casual restaurants.

In addition, the group will serve as a networking and educational venue, as well as provide input on research, segment definition, and member benefit program development.