The National Restaurant Association announced the launch of #RestaurantsDecide, an initiative showcasing the role restaurants play as cornerstones of their community during elections, convening candidates, voters and employees, managers and owners on the campaign trail. #RestaurantsDecide launches as New Hampshire’s voters take to the polls for the year’s first-in-the-nation primary and presidential candidates choose restaurants—the original social network—to host campaign events, organize supporters, and introduce themselves to local constituents.

Using Twitter and Facebook, #RestaurantsDecide will encourage restaurants, employees, and patrons across America to join the National Restaurant Association in tracking each presidential candidate as they visit eateries across the country. The initiative will later expand to Instagram. In addition to highlighting campaign stops, the National Restaurant Association will provide information for the campaign teams and journalists covering the election on the economic contributions of the restaurant industry in each community, and share the stories from restaurant owners, operators and employees. From New Hampshire, #RestaurantsDecide will track other state primaries, state, and local elections and other key events.

“America’s restaurants bring voters and their civic leaders to the table,” says Cicely Simpson, NRA’s executive vice president for Government Affairs and Policy. “We know that everyday, candidates come to restaurants to meet with the owners, managers, employees, and patrons—a cross-section of every voting block and constituency group. #RestaurantsDecide will capitalize on these moments to promote the economic success stories of restaurants in every district and state across the country.”

The launch comes in the wake of the Iowa Caucus, where 14 major candidates from both parties stopped at restaurants. In New Hampshire, multiple candidates, including Jeb Bush, John Kasich, and Marco Rubio, have already chosen New Hampshire restaurants as their forum to engage with voters.

As the second largest private sector employer in the U.S. economy, restaurants provide jobs for a significant percentage of Americans in every state. This includes 145,400 Iowans, 65,300 in New Hampshire, and 213,100 South Carolinans—nine, 10, and 11 percent of employment in each state, respectively. Restaurants are also critical job-creators, with nearly one in three Americans having held their first job in a restaurant, and half of all Americans having worked in the industry at some point during their lives.

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