by David Klemt

2023 KRG Recap: Top 8 News Articles

by David Klemt

Eight ball floating against black background

We’re kicking off our annual year-in-review article roundup by gathering the top eight news articles of 2023, which address an array of noteworthy developments.

For example, you’ll find a “Big Game” cocktail promotion, SevenRooms innovations, award winners, and legislation affecting our industry.

We look forward to sharing hospitality news with you as it breaks in 2024.


Group of Big Game cocktails at Ocean Casino Resort

Ocean Casino Resort Offers Big Game Cocktails

Ocean Casino Resort, Atlantic City’s award-winning oceanfront casino and resort, is ready for the Big Game with four cocktails that team with the theme.

Now, by “Big Game,” we all know what I’m talking about. We know the sport, we the know the league, and we know precisely which game is under discussion.

However, due to very “enthusiastic” attorneys, we also have to talk like we’re spies or actors in a mob movie. We wouldn’t want to tempt anyone to file a lawsuit now, would we?

And I’m going to encourage you to continue following this childish way of speaking about the Big Game. When you’re promoting your Sunday, February 12 event, don’t use any trademarked terms, logos, images, etc.

Alright, the Big Game legalese is out of the way. Let’s talk themed cocktails!

Big Game Cocktail Inspiration

Midway through last year, Ocean Casino Resort showed us all their marketing prowess. When news of the Choco Taco’s demise made headlines, Ocean created a cocktail homage: the Chocotini.

To ensure the LTO could be enjoyed by most guests, the cocktail was available at four venues on the property.

Now, Ocean Casino Resort is tackling the Big Game. (Note: I’m legally required to include sports puns when writing about any major game.)

Guests have four specialty LTO cocktails from which to choose. Two representing the team from Philadelphia, two for the team in Kansas City. Each drink is available at venues throughout the casino resort, including their Topgolf Swing Suite (largest in America), Nola’s Bar & Lounge, and the Gallery Bar Book & Games.

In news that should appeal to you and your bar team, these drinks are quick to make. That’s a relief when you plan to be slammed on a particular day.

Of course, you don’t have to attempt to replicate these cocktails. They serve as excellent inspiration to motivate you and your team to come up with your own liquid homages and LTOs.

In case you’re wondering what to charge, Ocean is charging $14 each for the Brotherly Love, Hurts So Good, and Big Red cocktails. The Arrowhead carries a price tag of $15.

Click here to continue reading.

Abraham Lincoln's face on $5 bill

What’s up with the Restaurant Revitalization Tax Credit?

If you’re wondering what’s going on with the Restaurant Revitalization Tax Credit bills in the House and Senate, you’re probably not alone.

And if you find yourself wondering about them, that’s likely because there isn’t much news about the bills. Unfortunately, it appears that no meaningful progress has been made on HR 9574 or S.5219.

A quick check shows that both bills share the same status: Introduced. As for the House bill, HR 9574, that was introduced on December 15, 2022 by Representative Earl Blumenauer (D-OR). The Senate bill, S.5219, was introduced by Senator Benjamin Cardin (D-MD) on December 8, 2022.

It’s important to note that Sens. Cardin, Patty Murray (D-A), and Sherrod Brown (D-OH) reintroduced S.5219 in January of this year. However, that apparently didn’t mean much as the trackers show no progress.

Last year, some opined that neither bill would receive a vote until January 2023 at the earliest. That “prediction” has proven true, of course—it’s now the end of March.

Restaurant Revitalization Tax Credit Act Summary

Let’s take a quick look at HR 9574 and S.5219.

Both bills propose a $25,000 payroll offset for restaurants. Eligibility requirements are also identical: applicants must have applied for but not awarded a Restaurant Revitalization Fund grant.

Additional, eligible applicants are:

  • restaurants with operating losses of at least 30 percent in 2020 and 2021 in comparison to 2019; or
  • restaurants with losses of at least 50 percent in either 2020 or 2021 in comparison to 2019.

So, those are elements that both the Senate and House bills share. What about the differences between the two bills?

Mainly, differences come down to the number of employees. For S.5219, restaurants with ten employees or fewer could be eligible for the maximum payroll tax credit. That credit, as a reminder, is up to $25,000 for 2023. For every employee over ten, the refund cap drops by $2,500.

Now, HR 9574. Restaurants with ten or fewer employees would receive the full $25,000 payroll tax offset. For restaurants with between 11 and 20 employees, the offset would be “partially refundable.”

Keep reading here.

Front of house staff member using SevenRooms

EHI and Danny Meyer Invest in SevenRooms

EHI and Danny Meyer Invest in SevenRooms

SevenRooms is showing no signs of resting on their laurels, announcing a major new investor: Enlightened Hospitality Investments.

EHI, a private-equity fund, traces its launch back to 2016. The fund, launched by and affiliated with Union Square Hospitality Group, typically makes investments in the $10-25 million range. Generally speaking, EHI makes non-control investments.

As you’re likely well aware, USHG’s founder and executive chairman is none other than restaurateur Danny Meyer. The Shake Shack chairman is also the managing partner of EHI.

Investment in SevenRooms by EHI—and by extension Danny Meyer—is huge news. Meyer now joins other high-profile chef and restaurateur investors in SevenRooms:

“At EHI, we always pay close attention to transformative tech that advances high touch,” says Meyer. “Far more than a reservations platform, SevenRooms provides abundant tools to create highly customized guest experiences and equips both restaurant and hotel teams to do what they do best—deliver truly memorable hospitality.”

Gloved hand pressing down on cheeseburger

A Group of Senators has Questions About ServSafe

The National Restaurant Association and the ServSafe program are now in the crosshairs of a group of Democratic senators.

I doubt any organization or individual wants to learn that lawmakers have questions for them. For those who may not know, ServSafe isn’t just in a partnership with the National Restaurant Association—the NRA owns the program.

That’s part of why six senators, led by Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), have sent a letter to the NRA. To describe the tone of this letter in one word, I think “aggressive” is accurate.

For more, including the text of the letter, click here.

Double Chicken Please cocktail bar interior

The 50 Best Bars in North America in 2023

The buildup toward this year’s World’s 50 Best Bars is growing with the recent announcement of North America’s 50 Best Bars.

Mexico City, the 2023 North America’s 50 Best Bars host city, is home to several of this year’s rankings. A true cocktail destination loaded with extraordinary bars, Mexico City boasts eight entries. Overall, 14 of the 50 bars on the 2023 list are in Mexico.

Of course, New York City also claims an impressive number of bars earning spots on the list. In fact, NYC boasts 12 of the 50 best bars in North America. More than half of the bars—28—are in the US.

Not that anyone asked, two of the bars on the 2023 list are in the city where I was born, Chicago: Kumiko and Milk Room. And I’m going to give a special nod to Herbs & Rye, number 27 and located in my hometown of Las Vegas (and the US headquarters of KRG Hospitality).

Of the 50 best bars in North America, Canada is home to seven. Four of these are in Toronto (where KRG Hospitality’s global headquarters are located), two are in Montreal, and one is in Vancouver.

Just one bar in the Caribbean makes the 2023 North America’s 50 Best Bars list. But what a bar: La Factoría is number 24.

Below you’ll find this year’s rankings; destination awards; and individual awards. Speaking of, congratulations to Julio Cabrera and Christine Wiseman! You’ll see why as you scroll. To review last year’s list, please click here.

Congratulations to all the bars and their bar teams representing the best of North America in 2023!

You can review the list here.

The lobby of ACE Hotel Sydney

The 2023 HD Award Finalists and Winners

As one would expect, the finalists and winners of the 2023 Hospitality Design Awards are a stunning collection of brands from which operators should pull inspiration.

Anyone looking for cutting-edge hospitality design would do well to look into each of the winners and finalists below.

The full list of award finalists and winners, and the architecture, interior design, and purchasing firms (along with owners and operators) can be found on the Hospitality Design website. Just click this link for the full details.

For our past coverage of the HD Expo, please click here.

Lifestyle Hotel


Ace Hotel Sydney (Sydney, New South Wales, Australia)

  • Architecture Firm: Bates Smart, Melbourne
  • Interior Design Firm: Flack Studio (hotel), Melbourne
  • Owner: Golden Age Group
  • Operator: Ace Hotel Group
  • Purchasing Firm: Marques Interior Services


Canoe Place Inn & Cottages (Hampton Bays, New York)

Our Habitas San Miguel (San Miguel de Allende, Guanajuato, Mexico)

Sisan·Shuanglang Hotel (DaLi, YunNan, China)

Fan Woods Hotel (Zhangjiakou City, Hebei Province, China)

Lifestyle Hotel Public Space



  • Architecture and Interior Design Firms: Morris Adjmi Architects, and ISC Design Studio, New York
  • Owner: Strategic Property Partners
  • Operator: Marriott International
  • Purchasing Firm: The Parker Company


Ace Hotel Sydney (Sydney, New South Wales, Australia)

The Standard (Hua Hin, Thailand)

Luxury Hotel


The Londoner (London, England) United Kingdom)

  • Architecture Firm: Woods Bagot, London
  • Interior Design Firm: Yabu Pushelberg, New York and Toronto
  • Owner and Operator: Edwardian Hotels London


Wildflower Farms, Auberge Resorts Collection (Gardiner, New York)

Kimpton Bamboo Grove Suzhou (Suzhou, Jiangsu, China)

Luxury Hotel Public Space


The Madrona (Healdsburg, California)

  • Architecture Firm: Strening Architects, Santa Rosa, California
  • Interior Design Firm: Jay Jeffers, San Francisco
  • Owners: Jay Jeffers, Kyle Jeffers, and investors
  • Operator: Mosaic Hotel Group
  • Purchasing Firm: Summa International


The Madrid EDITION (Madrid, Spain)

Pillows Maurits at the Park (Amsterdam, Netherlands)

Wildflower Farms, Auberge Resorts Collection (Gardiner, New York)

Click here for the full list of finalists and winners.

Hand holding several credit cards

Credit Card Competition Act, Take Three

Here we go again: Bipartisan lawmakers in the House and Senate are taking another shot at the Credit Card Competition Act.

After the incredibly underwhelming progress of the Credit Card Competition Act of 2022, lawmakers are making another move. Now, a bipartisan effort is coalescing around the Credit Card Competition Act of…2023.

The “new” bill was introduced on June 7. On the Senate side, Senators Dick Durbin (D-IL) and Roger Marshall (R-KS) are trying to push the bill forward. In the House, Representatives Lance Gooden (R-TX) and Zoe Lofgren (D-CA) are driving the effort.

Roughly eight months ago it was revealed that 1,802 merchants drafted, signed, and sent a letter to the House and Senate. To summarize quickly, the merchants were pushing for the bill to become law. Another supporter of the CCCA? The National Restaurant Association, claiming that the bill could save merchants $11 billion a year in fees.

Of course, a lot is going on since the introduction of the CCCA of 2022. For one, it’s being widely reported that House Republicans are “revolting,” blocking bills and effectively paralyzing the chamber. There’s also the matter of the second indictment of a former president.

However, reporters who know far more than I about the inner workings of Congress seem optimistic. While there’s drama in the lower chamber, there are articles circulating that seem to think the CCCA of 2023 has enough bipartisan support to pass.

Continue reading here.

The Pontiac bar in Hong Kong

Asia’s 50 Best Bars 2023 Revealed: 51 to 100

One week from the ceremony revealing bars one through 50 of Asia’s 50 Best Bars, the World’s 50 Best Bars announces venues 51 to 100.

Sponsored by Perrier, the World’s 50 Best Bars will announce the top 50 bars in Asia on Tuesday, July 18. This year’s ceremony will take place in Hong Kong at 20:25 local time.

However, we now know which bars have earned placement on the back half of this year’s list. As Mark Sansom, director of content for the World’s 50 Best points out on episode 82 of Bar Hacks, an expansion for their lists is necessary. There are simply too many outstanding operators and teams to not honor an additional 50 venues.

To that end, the list below represents the third edition of Asia’s 50 Best Bars, 51 to 100. In my opinion, and I think the World’s 50 Best and bar professionals across the world agree, this list is every bit as prestigious as one through 50. Let’s not downplay the fact that these are 50 of the best bars in all of Asia. It’s no small feat to earn a spot on this list.

If you’re interested in finding more amazing venues throughout Asia (and around the world), click here to learn about the World’s 50 Best Discovery tool.

By the Numbers

As you’ll see below, Singapore dominates this year’s 51 to 100 list with eight bars. I expect Singapore pick up even more spots next week.

Japan boasts seven bars on the list, with Osaka, Okinawa, and Kumamoto making debuts. Hong Kong, Taiwan, and India each have claim five slots. Bangkok and Kuala Lumpur are also well represented with four bars each.

Vietnam and China each have three bars among this year’s 51 to 100. Two bars in Seoul, South Korea, earned placement as well.

However, it’s Kathmandu, Nepal, with two bars that stands out the most to me. Numbers 100 and 70 belong to Kathmandu, and are both new to the list.

To review the list on the World’s 50 Best website, please click here.

Keep reading here.

Image: Mediocre Studio on Unsplash