Chairman's Message 2020

Burnell Goldman

Thank you for this incredible honor to represent one of the most diverse, challenging and economically-important industries in Rhode Island. The Ocean State is known for its beautiful beaches, historic places and quaint communities. But it is really famous for its thriving culinary and tourism scene.

As incoming Chairman of the RI Hospitality Association Board of Directors, I am ready, willing and able to represent our industry to the best of my ability. I’ve worked in hospitality in Rhode Island since I was 14 years old and I owe our industry a lot. It built my work ethic, gave me perspective, provided a sense of accomplishment and a way to earn money as I went on to college and then grad school. It also gave me a sense of place and the confidence that I could make my career in it.

A native of Warwick, I started as a dishwasher at what was formerly known as Harborside Lobstermania on East Greenwich’s waterfront. This part-time job put money in my pocket as I went to school and I continued at the restaurant on and off until I was 28 years old. Today, I co-own Siena Restaurant Group with locations in Providence, East Greenwich and Smithfield.

This industry is not for the faint of heart; it takes true dedication, willpower, drive and desire to succeed. But, the doors are always open to everyone – whether you choose to work in it as a student going through school, or to support your family as you learn a new trade, or to ultimately make it your career path. We are an industry with incredible on-the-job training, a flexible work schedule, and the ability to make a good living. Hospitality is also one of the most economically-important drivers in the state with many industries relying on its success from the cities and towns who benefit from the lodging, sales and meals taxes; to the tens of thousands who are employed in our vibrant hotels, restaurants and attractions; to those who supply our industry with local produce, meats and seafood, linens and other ancillary services.

RIHA’s job is to fight to maintain a beneficial business climate for our industry to thrive and grow - and to do that we need your participation. Growing membership continues to be a primary focus in 2020. As we watch our neighboring states in Massachusetts and Connecticut continue to enact stricter and more prohibitive laws that hinder the industry’s ability to do business, it’s imperative that we continue to fight hard here in Rhode Island. Legislators need to hear from a large constituency who cares, who is watching and who will fight for our collective interests.

As I begin this exciting journey representing our valued members, I promise to do my very best to ensure that all of our collective interests are well represented. And, I urge you to stay involved this year and if you haven’t had time, make time in 2020. Our legislative fight is only getting harder and more time consuming. Together, we can ensure that our industry remains competitive, vibrant, and celebrated.

Christopher Tarro
Chairman of the Board
Siena Restaurants