Central Florida Restaurant Association

Jesse Newton, Co-founder, Partner

Newton has owned and operated numerous restaurants and bars in Orlando and greater Central Florida.   He has been charged with managing teams of more than 200 employees, including the hiring of several teams to open restaurant locations in Orlando.  Jesse specializes in brand development, finance, budgeting and marketing for luxury brands and full service restaurants within the tourism and hospitality industries. 

Jesse earned a master’s of science degree from the University of Central Florida's Rosen College of Hospitality Management.  Jesse was nominated for the Orlando Business Journal’s  Orlando's Top 40 Under 40.  Jesse has been involved in many hospitality associations over the years.

Mission: To support the foodservice industry of Central Florida

Vision: To provide Central Florida's leading restaurants, bars and related allied businesses with the most dynamic forum to establish and nurture  relationships with which to energetically lead the area's dining culture for the ultimate benefit of increasing profitability within member foodservice venues and to positively influence the overall economic growth of the foodservice industry in the great Central Florida area.

The Central Florida Restaurant Association provides forums for Central Florida restaurants and bars to discuss issues pertinent to Central Florida through an Owner’s Council, Restaurant Council, Bar Council, VIP Partner’s Council, and Allied Council.  Periodic meetings are held by each council with monthly dinner meetings for all members of the Central Florida Restaurant Association (CFRA).

The CFRA promotes its membership through involvement in the Central Florida community and media relations. The association promotes business for its restaurant and bar members.  The CFRA is actively involved in issues pertaining to Central Florida hospitality through industry representation and advocacy.  Educational workshops and certifications are offered to all members by our VIP Partners.  The association will provide members the opportunity to participate in food and wine festivals, golf tournaments, and other community projects with proceeds going to the University of Central Florida and Valencia College's hospitality programs and a

501(c)(3) foundation for hospitality scholarships.  Central Florida hospitality industry information is distributed through a website and e-newsletter.

Through membership in the Central Florida Restaurant Association, members gain networking and business opportunities, local industry representation and promotion.  Members will also receive valuable cost-savings on everyday expenses from allied partners.

Gardner is the president and founder of A & L Associates that was established 1983 in Dallas, Texas, after twenty successful years of management and ownership in the hospitality industry. A & L Associates is a hospitality management consulting firm serving clients throughout the United States, Europe and Asia.  A & L Associates opened a second office in Greensboro, NC in 1989, followed by an Orlando office established in 1992. 

Al has been involved in hospitality associations for more than thirty years including the National Restaurant, Texas Restaurant, Central Florida Hotel and Lodging, and the Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association (FRLA).   In 2013, Al was inducted into the FRLA’s prestigious Supplier Hall of Fame.  Al served as President of the FRLA, Central Florida Chapter and served as the Executive Director of the chapter for five years where he gained knowledge of association management.   


Al Gardner, President, CEO