A Champlin restaurateur was honored recently at the Minnesota Restaurant Association’s 2012 Gala Awards Ceremony.
Jill Skogheim, president of 5-8 Restaurants with locations in Champlin, Minneapolis and Maplewood, was named 2012 Legislative Advocate of the Year.
The Legislative Advocate of the Year Award honors an Association member who has performed exemplary service to the industry by involvement in the legislative process. Skogheim is the co-chair of Assocation’s Legislative Committee, serves on the Association’s board of directors and is active in its Kitchen Cabinet network. She is proactive about meeting with her own and other legislators about industry issues, even when there is no pressing legislation. Skogheim visits Washington, D.C. annually on behalf of Minnesota’s restaurant industry during the National Restaurant Association’s Public Affairs Conference.
The Association cited Skogheim as someone who readily provides assistance to her inexperienced peers who want guidance talking to their elected officials. In accepting the Legislative Advocate of the Year award, she challenged her peers be active in the legislative process. Skogheim was honored by Finance and Commerce on its “Top Women in Finance” list in 2010.
“Legislatively, I am always focused on maintaining our relationships and creating new ones,” said Skogheim “I’m working to inform legislators what it’s like to work and run a restaurant business.”
Skogheim said one big issue in which she believes the restaurant industry garnered success was the Vikings stadium.
“The cost wasn’t unjustly allocated to the hospitality industry,” said Skogheim. “We didn’t want to pay for the entire Vikings stadium.”
She referred to the Ramsey County proposal prior to the one that was approved that placed more taxes on bars and restaurants to underwrite the cost of the new stadium.
However, because of the focus on the Vikings stadium, Skogheim said a significant amount of progress wasn’t achieved on some other issues so she and other advocates will continue working on those.
Some of the issues close to Skogheim’s heart include the capital equipment tax and health fees.
“Restaurants aren’t eligible for exemptions on capital equipment such as big mixers and blenders,” she said. “Most other industries that charge sales tax in the end do have an exemption.”
This is something she would like to see changed for the restaurant business.
Health fees are delegated by the Minnesota Health Department in cities and counties. With Champlin and Minneapolis both in Hennepin County Skogheim has concerns about this.
She would like to see more transparency in Hennepin County with how the cost is made up. She would also like to see fees more in alignment with what the services rendered for those fees actually cost.
She remains vigilant, watching to see what kinds of legislation might pop up that could affect the restaurant industry. Taxes and alcohol are other issues that often link back to the restaurant business.
Over the years she’s learned that legislators appreciate her efforts to develop a relationship even when there isn’t a particular issue on the table.
“That way you already have a friend in the legislature when something does come up,” she said.
The 5-8 Club has made its home in Champlin for more than eight years.
“We’ve enjoyed being a part of the Champlin and Brooklyn Park area,” said Skogheim. They continue to be the charitable gambling location for Champlin Park Youth Hockey and are home of the Juicy Lucy burger.
February marks Juicy Lucy month, which will include a Juicy Lucy eating contest.
Contact Mindy Mateuszczyk at [email protected]