The Georgia Restaurant Association announced the finalists for the 2015 Georgia Restaurant Association Crystal of Excellence (GRACE) Awards.

All finalists are peer nominated. The winners are then decided by the GRACE Academy, which consists of past GRACE nominees and current GRA board members.

On November 1, the GRACE Awards Gala, an exclusive event honoring leaders who have made outstanding contributions to Georgia’s restaurant industry, will take place at the Foundry at Puritan Mill in Atlanta.

At the event, winners for Restaurateur of the Year (Small/Independent, Franchisee, Large/Corporate), Industry Partner of the Year and the Distinguished Service Award will be announced.

The GRA will also honor the Restaurant Employee of the Year, Manager of the Year, ProStart Student of the Year and this year’s Lifetime Achievement Award winner, Doug McKendrick of McKendrick’s Steak House.

In addition, Jim Stacy, television host and owner of Pallookaville Fine Foods, will serve as the master of ceremonies.

Live entertainment will be provided by the Latin band, Willie Ziavino and C.O.T. Band, who regularly play at GRA member restaurant, Eclipse di Luna.

“In celebration of the 9th Annual GRACE Awards Gala, we are delighted to continue the tradition of recognizing our industry for their excellence and achievement,” says Karen Bremer, executive director of the Georgia Restaurant Association.

A portion of the proceeds from this event will go to benefit the Atlanta Community Food Bank, whose mission is to fight hunger by engaging, educating, and empowering the community.

Grace Awards Finalists

Restaurateur of the Year: Small/Independent: Jonathan and Justin Fox, Fox Bros. Bar-B-Q Kevin Rathbun, Cliff Bramble and Kirk Parks, Rathbun’s, KR Steak Bar, Kevin Rathbun Steak Ryan Pernice, and Ted Lahey, Table & Main, Osteria Mattone.

Restaurateur of the Year: Franchisee: Mike Orcutt, Cowabunga, Inc., Domino's Matt Hansen, KBP Foods, KFC, Taco Bell, Long John Silver’s, Pizza Hut John Silvey, Poultry Partners Zaxby’s.

Restaurateur of the Year: Large/Corporate: Adriana Quintanilla, Norsan Group Restaurants, Frontera Mex-Mex Grill, Luciano's Ristorante Italiano, Pampas Steakhouse Paul Damico, Moe’s Southwest Grill Cheryl Bachelder, Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen.

Industry Partner of the Year: Atlanta Foodservice Expo, UnitedHealthcare, The Giving Kitchen

Distinguished Service Award: Fifth Group Restaurants, Ray’s on the River, Tin Lizzy’s Cantina

ProStart Student of the Year: To be determined by the Hospitality Education Foundation of Georgia

Manager of the Year: Dewey Funna, Hudson Grille Midtown 

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