Marco Rubio connects family history to hospitality industry advancement


Sen. Marco Rubio encountered a friendly room when he arrived as the lunch keynote speaker for the 2022 Florida Restaurant and Lodging Summit

“Sen. Rubio has dedicated his career to public service,” Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association CEO Carol Dover said. “He has worked for the best interests of Florida, and most important, he’s spent his 20 years supporting the hospitality industry.” 

She noted Rubio’s leadership on the Paycheck Protection Program, which she said supported more than 6 million Florida jobs and saved more than half a million businesses in the state. 

“I can tell you, personally, I don’t know what we would’ve done without our good friend in the Senate during COVID,” Dover said.

He pointed to his family’s history in the business.

“I was raised by this industry,” Rubio said. “My father was a banquet bartender, and worked at events like this.” 

Those jobs provided opportunities.

“They put food on the table, but also opened up the door to everything possible to us,” Rubio said.

Rubio spoke to hospitality industry leaders amid what’s become an unexpectedly tough re-election campaign against Democrat Val Demings. She’s notably outraised him of late, while polling varies depending on the pollster.

He spent most of his speech jumping from describing one crisis facing society to another, before coming back to the topic at hand. America works, he said, because of the sort of people who go into hospitality jobs.

“In America, the person serving you might be the CEO of some company in five years …,” Rubio said. “The person serving you might have a second job starting a small business. You know how many people — I guarantee you there are a lot of people who are in this industry today that started out in that.

“In fact, the best restaurateurs, the best hospitality people are the ones who know how to run the front desk, know how to cook, know how to serve, know the whole operation.”

It was a double-bill of top-ballot Republican officials, as Lt. Gov. Jeanette Nuñez followed Rubio on the stage. She gave more of a classic stump speech, expressing belief in a significant win by the GOP team in November based on, among other things, their economic record.

“Here in Florida, we’ve seen 23 consecutive months of private-sector job growth,” Nunez said. “Our unemployment rate is 2.8%, which has remained below the national average of 3.6% for 19 consecutive months. We’ve seen our private sector employment growth continue to be strong — it outpaces the national market. What we’ve seen as of June 2022, Florida’s added jobs for 26 consecutive months. All a great economic picture for the state of Florida.”

She said that growth is also in service jobs.

“We’re proud that those economic policies have showcased not just here, but for the rest of the country, what we’ve seen in many other governments — Gov. (Ron) DeSantis was the first to make sure our businesses were open (during the pandemic), and make sure our kids could get an education in school,” Nunez said.

“A lot of other Governors were quick to follow.”

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