The National Restaurant Association (NRA) is now accepting nominations for the third annual Operator Innovations Awards (OI Awards). The awards celebrate restaurant operators that are transforming the industry with extraordinary creativity and commitment to innovation and excellence in execution.

An independent panel of operators from both commercial and non-commercial backgrounds will select three finalists in each of five categories: Health & Nutrition, Marketing, Menu Development, Sustainability and Technology. A single winner in each category as well as an Innovator of the Year will be selected by the panel and revealed during the marquee event Destination: Celebration, held May 17, 2014, in conjunction with the NRA Show.

Nominations will be accepted online at through January 17, 2014.

“As operators ourselves, we have first-hand knowledge how innovation drives the success of a foodservice establishment – and the entire industry,” says Scott Barton, president, Fine Dining Division of Lettuce Entertain You, and an OI Award judge. “Recognizing fellow operators that demonstrate ingenuity in core business areas both celebrates them and their achievement, and brings their stories to the attention of the entire industry in a way that we all can benefit from.”

Commercial and non-commercial operators may self-nominate. The NRA also encourages nominations from individuals throughout the industry – including manufacturers, dealers and distributors, media, and other restaurant and foodservice industry professionals – who have seen first-hand how restaurants are driving progress in the restaurant and foodservice industry, fueling customer satisfaction and profitability.

The judging panel for the Operator Innovations Awards represents operators from major segments of the foodservice industry:

  • Patricia Bando, associate vice president, Auxiliary Services, Boston College
  • Scott Barton, president, Fine Dining Division, Lettuce Entertain You
  • Jeff Broadhurst, president & CEO, Eat’n Park Hospitality Group
  • Jean-Marie Clement, director Food & Beverage Concept Development, Walt Disney Parks & Resorts Worldwide
  • Douglas Davis, senior director, Global Food Safety, Marriott International
  • Chris Demery, vice president, Applications, Bloomin’ Brands, Inc.
  • Mary Gregoire, director, Food & Nutrition, Rush Medical Center
  • James Houser, COO for Parks & Resorts, Delaware North Companies
  • Joe Jasper, Franchise Committee chairman, McDonalds
  • John Metz, Jr., executive chef, president and co-founder, Sterling Hospitality
  • C.W. Craig Reed, director of Food & Beverage, Broadmoor Hotel



Industry News, Labor & Employees, Leader Insights