Following a two-year postponement due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Georgia Restaurant Association (GRA) announces the finalists and honorees for the 2022 Georgia Restaurant Association Crystal of Excellence (GRACE) Awards. All finalists are peer-nominated, ensuring the most deserving in the industry are recognized. Winners are chosen by the GRACE Academy, comprised of former GRACE finalists and honorees as well as current GRA Board members.
The GRACE Awards Gala, an inclusive event honoring those who have made outstanding contributions to Georgia’s restaurant industry, will take place at the Georgia Aquarium in Atlanta on Tuesday, September 27, 2022. At the event, winners will be announced for Restaurateur of the Year, Industry Partner of the Year, Hospitality Hero of the Year (formerly Distinguished Service), Restaurant Manager of the Year, Restaurant Employee of the Year and ProStart Student of the Year. New to 2022, the GRA added Restaurateur Rookie of the Year and the GRA Hall of Fame as well as a new category nominated and voted on by the Georgia restaurant community—"Georgia On My Mind” People's Choice Awards. The GRACE Lifetime Achievement and Chairman’s award winners also will be honored.
“While Georgia’s restaurants are still recovering from the pandemic, the GRACE Awards Gala is an opportunity to shine a spotlight on the incredible individuals and companies that created a more hospitable and familiar world during one of the most challenging periods in recent memory,” says Karen Bremer, President + CEO of the Georgia Restaurant Association. “Our industry epitomizes resilience.”
To learn more about the GRACE Awards or to sponsor and purchase tickets, visit garestaurants.org/grace.
2022 GRACE AWARDS FINALISTS
LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT HONOREE
Dr. Debra Cannon, Ph.D., Georgia State University | Robinson School of Business | Cecil B. Day School of Hospitality
RESTAURATEUR OF THE YEAR FINALISTS
Amici Food Group (Michael Torino + Chris Torino)
PITA Mediterranean Street Food (Nour Rabai)
Southern Proper Hospitality (Chris Hadermann)
VanTrece Hospitality (Deborah VanTrece)
RESTAURATEUR ROOKIE OF THE YEAR FINALISTS
Lil Ice Cream Dude Cool World Ice Cream Shop (Victor “Beau” Shell)
MAD Hospitality (Preston Snyder)
Mukja Korean Fried Chicken (Sean Chang)
Southern Belle + Georgia Boy (Joey Ward)
INDUSTRY PARTNER OF THE YEAR FINALISTS
Goliath Consulting Group
Melissa Libby & Associates
Savannah Bee Company
HOSPITALITY HERO OF THE YEAR FINALISTS
Gathering Industries (Alex Reethof)
RO Hospitality (Ryan Pernice)
Sterling Hospitality (John C. Metz)
RESTAURANT MANAGER OF THE YEAR HONOREE
Pepe Fundora, Casa Nuova Italian Restaurant and Cork & Glass
RESTAURANT EMPLOYEE OF THE YEAR HONOREE
Katherine Najera, Willy’s Mexicana Grill
PROSTART STUDENT OF THE YEAR HONOREE
Jennifer Pacheco, Maxwell High School of Technology
Senate President Pro Tempore Butch Miller, Georgia State Senate
*People’s Choice Award Honorees + Hall of Fame Inductees will be announced live on September 27, 2022.
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