The Ohio Restaurant Association held its annual Industry Awards this summer as a virtual event, culminating in recognizing many members of the Ohio foodservice industry with honors. The 2021 awards included Donatos’ Founder Jim Grote being inducted into the ORA Hall of Fame. A full list of award winners and the virtual event video can be viewed here.
Following up on this prestigious event, last week, the ORA announced Britney Ruby Miller was selected by her peers as the Board Member of the Year, the highest accolade for those serving the restaurant industry in a leadership position. Additionally, Tod Bowen, ORA’s managing director of external affairs & government relations, was chosen as the ORA Employee of the Year.
Britney Ruby Miller is CEO of Jeff Ruby Culinary Entertainment, based in Cincinnati, and was selected by the Board’s executive committee for her outstanding efforts during 2020 on behalf of the restaurant industry.
“Britney has been a tireless advocate for our industry during the pandemic,” says Sheila Trautner, chair of the ORA Board of Directors. “She served on the Governor’s Advisory Council, organized Cincinnati’s restaurant leaders for several local advocacy projects, and worked closely with the ORA and the National Restaurant Association’s public affairs teams to successfully advocate for critical federal support, including the Paycheck Protection Program and the Flexibility Act. Britney also regularly represented our industry in countless interviews with the national news media and Ohio-based reporters.”
As CEO, Ruby Miller leads a team of more than 500 employees across seven luxury steakhouses in Ohio, Kentucky and Tennessee. Ruby Miller grew up in the organization founded by her father Jeff Ruby in 1981. She learned the intricacies of the restaurant business from some of the best. Starting at a very young age, she worked every position in the restaurant from hourly kitchen and hostess to server and management positions. In 2011, Ruby Miller was promoted to the corporate office and since then she has overseen remarkable growth. As four restaurants became seven with year over year same-store sales growth, goals were surpassed and KPIs hit record levels. One of her proudest professional accomplishments is building a corporate team of 38 experts in their respective departments, where a large and growing percentage are women.
She is co-founder and board member of the Jeff Ruby Foundation, which is focused on helping eradicate childhood poverty through improving a challenged foster care system. Ruby Miller also sits on the Board of Directors at Cincinnati State Technical and Community College Foundation and is a member of the Young Presidents Organization.
Tod Bowen was selected as the ORA’s 2021 Employee of the Year, recognizing his extraordinary efforts, dedication and success in driving many important advocacy wins for the restaurant industry.
Wins included organizing the ORA’s advocacy strategy and committee for many critical projects during the pandemic. Bowen coordinated daily with the National Restaurant Association, helping pass the Paycheck Protection Program and Flexibility Act. He negotiated with the Ohio Governor’s office, advised the Ohio Department of Health, testified at the statehouse, helped secure drinks-to-go policy for restaurants, and managed important projects at the local level, including capping third-party delivery at 15% in several cities and avoiding onerous mandates. Bowen also co-wrote the Ohio Restaurant Promise during 2020 and counseled the Governor’s Advisory Committee.
“Tod is a champion for our industry,” says Gary Callicoat, vice chair of the ORA Board of Directors. “During the pandemic, he constantly identified the most important areas of focus and helped the ORA drive strategy and tactical execution of national and statewide advocacy that helped save our industry from devastation. I can’t say enough about how the ORA is now a leading voice on Capitol Hill and at the Ohio Statehouse. Our members are fortunate to be part of an organization that is recognized in Washington, D.C. and throughout Ohio as THE voice of the restaurant, foodservice and hospitality industry.”
“Tod leads our External Affairs and Government Relations teams at the ORA, which represents the third-largest private sector employer in our state with more than 20,000 locations and 585,000 employees in the Buckeye state,” said John Barker, president and CEO of the ORA. “He brings to our organization strong political acumen and tremendous contacts built during a successful career. His work ethic and drive are incredible. Tod has elevated our public affairs program to a superior level at the federal, state and local levels. He also sets a great example for our industry, board and staff with his commitment to the ORA’s mission and core values.”
Bowen’s work in the legislative arena leading up to his tenure with the ORA includes previously owning and operating New Century Solutions for 14 years, where he led campaigns for Congressman Pat Tiberi, Governor John Kasich, Delaware County GOP and others. He earned an MBA from Capital University School of Management and is a graduate of Cedarville University.
“I am so proud of both Britney and Tod for their recognition by the Board’s executive committee,” adds Barker. “We made tremendous progress during an incredibly challenging 18 months spanning 2020 and, so far, in 2021. Our industry lost more than 3,100 restaurants in Ohio since the pandemic began. We have much more to do to help our industry rebound. Our industry and ORA leadership are determined to return to stability and to enter a growth mode, hopefully in 2022 and beyond.”
Since 1920, the Ohio Restaurant Association (ORA) has proudly served Ohio's restaurant and foodservice industry, with their members always being their number one priority. Founded on thought leadership and focused on finding sound business solutions for their members, the ORA and the Ohio Restaurant Association Education Foundation offer advocacy, education, events and tailored products & services.
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