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Missouri Restaurant Association (MRA)


The restaurant trade association movement traces its roots to Missouri. The forerunner of the restaurant movement in America was the Kansas City Business Men’s Association, when in 1916, local operators banded together to resist encroachment on their own businesses.

In this group were early industry leaders such as Myron Green and George Fowler, father-in-law of Joseph Gilbert, Sr. of Gilbert/Robinson, who went on to establish both the Missouri and the National Restaurant Associations. In 1919, on a heatless Monday” during World War I, these same individuals gathered other restaurateurs from around the nation to form the National Restaurant Association. The NRA was headquartered in Kansas City until 1926, when the office was moved to Chicago. The first NRA Executive Vice-President was John Welch, Sr. His son, Jack Welch, retired from a successful executive career to become the first instructor of restaurant management at the University of Missouri-Columbia.

In 1935, charters were granted to both the Missouri Restaurant Association and the St. Louis Restaurant Association. The late Clarence M. Hayman, Sr., founder of the Forum Cafeterias, signed the incorporation papers. His son, C.M. Hayman, Jr., became MRA President in 1974.

Several city association entities continued to exist until 1958, when efforts began to amalgamate into one statewide organization. This objective became a reality in 1962 when the Kansas City and St. Louis associations agreed to affiliate as chapters of the Missouri Restaurant Association. This marks the true “birth” of today’s Missouri Restaurant Association.

At that time, the association purchased The Missouri Restaurant magazine from publisher Max H. Koerner, and hired him as a full-time Executive Vice-President. In 1981, upon the retirement of Max Koerner, Carl Degen, Editor of The Missouri Restaurant, became Executive Vice-President.

In those intervening years, MRA has expanded and grown. Today, a strong board representing the geographic interests of the state unites it. Its 10 local affiliate chapters now cover the entire state. Membership has steadily risen, exceeding 4,050 establishments.

The unification of local associations has been the critical key to the development of an effective MRA. Prior to that time, the industry was not focused and therefore ineffective. The significance of this unification into a strong central organization has extended into all areas of the state.

There is little resemblance between the organization as it exists today and that of those early years, except that the same indomitable spirit to serve is still reflected in a large and effective group of volunteers who work with a staff to enhance the industry.

The MRA’s organizational activities and philosophy still focus on the member. MRA is unique among trade associations, with the high level of member involvement in the Association’s activities. The development of local chapters continued until the late Seventies, when all areas of the state were affiliated under a chapter organization, giving members from across the state a chance to be involved. MRA’s effectiveness derives from its unity and action of members.

The development of member services has been steady and significant. A hospitalization insurance program was initiated in the Sixties, followed by a Workers’ Compensation plan and credit card program in the early Seventies. The monthly MRA Newsletter has been continually upgraded and is looked upon by members as one of the association’s most effective means of communication. A significant factor in the financial growth of the association has been the growth of the annual trade show into one of the nation’s largest state shows. In 1991, the association developed a self-insured Workers’ Compensation program called MRAIT (Missouri Restaurant Association Insurance Trust).

An effective Government Affairs program has become one of the most significant services MRA offers its members. A lobbyist was retained in the early Sixties and has resulted in increased government affairs involvement, one of the most important services the organization offers its members.

The development of, and continued emphasis on member services, plus a commitment to chapter organizations and a high level of member involvement, has made the MRA among the five largest restaurant associations in the nation. MRA is nationally recognized for its effectiveness, professionalism, and level of service. However, from the very beginning until today, it is the commitment of individual members that result in a successful organization.

Number of visits: 5626

Contact details:

  • Missouri Restaurant Association (MRA)
  • 1810 Craig Road
  • St. Louis, Missouri 63146
  • United States
  • Tel: +1 (314) 576-2777 - Toll Free +1 (877) 413-7029
  • Fax: +1 (314) 576-2999

Web presence:


News from Missouri Restaurant Association (MRA):

- Missouri Restaurant Association Offers Gift Certificate Incentive: Sep 27, 2010


Vacancies with Missouri Restaurant Association (MRA):

No open vancancies found