Stephanie Fischer Named President and Chief Executive Officer of Georgia Restaurant Association
Thursday, September 21st, 2023
The Georgia Restaurant Association (GRA) announced that it has appointed Stephanie Fischer as the association’s new president and chief executive officer (CEO). Fischer will succeed longtime president and CEO Karen Bremer, who recently announced her retirement. Fischer brings 25+ years of hospitality experience to her new role. The GRA serves as a unified voice for an industry compromising over 21,916 food service and drinking establishments with total sales more than $24.9 billion in the state of Georgia.
“It’s an honor to follow in Karen’s footsteps,” says Fischer. “I have enjoyed collaborating with Karen for many years. I have learned so much from her leadership and significant contributions to the industry during challenging times. I look forward to building upon the momentum of Karen’s success as I pave my own way.”
Fischer is charged with uniting Georgia’s restaurant community, impacting legislation that affects restaurant workers, cultivating relationships with members and government officials, and providing valuable resources to help restaurateurs run their businesses. Through advocacy, education and awareness, Fischer will protect and promote Georgia’s second-largest private-sector employer.
“One of my first goals is to get out to all the different communities and cities around the state. This will help me further establish relationships with our members and local officials,” she says. “It’s important for me to find out how we can continue to build upon the partnerships with local governments in order to make Georgia a better place for restaurants to do business.”
Fischer has already worked closely with Bremer and the GRA board of directors for the past six years. After joining the board in 2017, she was elected to the executive committee two years later and then served as chairman of the board in 2022. During this time, she dealt with challenges facing Georgia’s restaurant industry and visited both the state capitol and Washington, D.C., to advocate for important issues such as preserving the FICA tax tip credit, the Essential Workers for Economic Advancement Act, and the Credit Card Competition Act.
“Advocating for the restaurant industry is all about sustaining jobs and preserving cultural richness in our communities,” says Fischer of her approach to leading the GRA. “Many of our members are independent restaurateurs; they aren’t huge corporations. I want to make sure we are educating our state representatives on how these challenges affect small businesses.”
“I have tremendous confidence that Stephanie is the best person to serve as the next president and CEO of the GRA”, said Justin Triplett, chairman of the board. “I’ve had the pleasure of serving alongside her on the board for several years now and her commitment and dedication to the GRA speaks for itself and we’re incredibly lucky to have her. I have no doubt that Stephanie’s experience will elevate our association as it continues serving as the voice of the restaurant industry in Georgia and I am dedicated to working with her to help her succeed as we transition into a new era of the association.”
Fischer has spent her entire career in the hospitality industry, beginning at KFC during high school and culminating in her most recent role as the vice president of corporate operations of Paradies Lagardère Travel Retail Dining Division, where she led strategic planning and support of dining operations with a focus on new store openings, food safety, back-office systems, and the guest experience for more than 80 brands across 170 locations in 43 airports.
Fischer was an employee engagement champion who also introduced nationwide strategic food safety initiatives and spearheaded the launch and growth of an internal DEI council. Prior to the Paradies Lagardère’s acquisition of Hojeij Branded Foods, Fischer served as HBF’s executive vice president. She led the successful opening of 87 new airport locations, enabling total growth to $250 million in annual revenue between 2011 and 2018. During this time, she also served as a member of the CEO’s executive steering committee, and her expertise was critical in growing the company and providing an exceptional guest experience.
Fischer’s career experience also includes time with Dunkin’ Brands leading its training center in Orlando, FL where she was responsible for training new franchisees on store operations. Previously, she spent 13 years with the Walt Disney World Company, where she led learning and development for food and beverage and retail at Epcot, including the Epcot International Food & Wine Festival.
In 2020, Fischer was named a Woman of Influence in the Food Industry by The Griffin Report. She also is a member of Les Dames d’Escoffier’s Atlanta Chapter.
Fischer obtained her Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Hawaii and an MBA from Stetson University.
“I have immense passion for this industry, observing what Karen and her team did for the state of Georgia during COVID-19 was really impressive,” says Fischer. “I felt it was my time to give back to the Georgia restaurant community.”
Both Fischer and Bremer are dedicated to a smooth transition, starting October 30, 2023, and will continue to collaborate to ensure a seamless changeover.
“Stephanie’s proven leadership ability in the hospitality industry, coupled with her service and leadership with the association gives her an ideal background to lead the GRA,” said Karen Bremer. “She will do a tremendous job for the association and its members.”