News

Honoring Excellence

Apr 21
2016

A long standing Texas Restaurant Association tradition, the Hall of Honor recognizes members who have made significant contributions to the Texas restaurant industry, the association, and their communities. Over the past 35 years, over 125 restaurateurs have received this honor, which is the most prestigious award the association bestows. This year, three exceptional restaurateurs will join that exalted group at the 2016 Night of Excellence, June 25 at Revention Music Center in Houston in conjunction with the Texas Restaurant Association Marketplace.

Greg Stockton, owner, Golden Chick, Wichita Falls

Greg and his family opened the first Golden Chick in Wichita Falls in 1984. Thirty-two years later, he and his wife Cathy own and operate four locations. As his business grew, so too did his commitment to the community. Greg believes that while Golden Chick is a chain restaurant, it is foremost a locally-owned, family business with a responsibility to give back where and when it can. He's active in many local non-profits such as the Red Cross, American Cancer Society, Wichita Falls Fire Fighters Association, and Maskat Shriners. After joining the Texas Restaurant Association in 1985, Greg attended LeadershipTRA and then took a very active role in his local North Texas chapter, and the state organization. He served as chapter president four times, co-chairs the chapter's annual golf tournament, and is the 'pasta guy' for the chapter's annual Hotter N Hell Spaghetti Meal. Greg is a current member of the TRA Board of Directors.

Jeffrey Yarbrough, owner, The Cedars Social, bigInk, Dallas

Jeffrey is known for his entrepreneurial spirit, which was first demonstrated at the age of five when he sold plums he picked from his grandmother's tree to the neighbors. His first foray into the entertainment industry was Concept Nouveau, Dallas' original four clubs-in-one complex, including Art Bar, Blind Lemon, Club Clearview and Red. In 1998, he launched Liberty Noodles, the first pan-Asian noodle house located on Lower Greenville in Dallas. In 2004, Jeffrey took his knowledge of the hospitality industry and opened bigInk PR & Real Estate, using his experience to help other restaurateurs and business owners find success. However, he can't stay away from a hands-on role in the restaurant business and is currently part-owner of Cedars Social, one of Dallas' best cocktail bars. Jeffrey joined the Texas Restaurant Association in 1991. He served on the Dallas chapter board of directors for many years, and as chapter president in 1998. Jeffrey was elected TRA president in 2001 and is currently a member of the TRA Board of Director's executive committee.

Russell Ybarra, president & CEO, Gringo's Mexican Kitchen & Jimmy Changas, Houston

As a 25-year veteran of the food service industry, Russell started out as a dishwasher in his father's company El-Toro Mexican Restaurants. In 1986 he helped develop El-Matador Foods, a successful tortilla factory in Baytown. In the early 1990's he was asked to take over a restaurant that had previously failed under four different concepts. Gringo's Mexican Kitchen has since grown to 10 restaurants in the greater Houston area, and San Antonio.  After a trip to Spain, Russell was inspired to start a fast casual restaurant called Bullritos. After franchising the concept and growing it to 20 locations in Texas Louisiana and Georgia, he sold it in 2012 to continue focusing on his first passion, full-service restaurants. In 2011, he developed a new Tex-Mex concept called Jimmy Changas, a family oriented restaurant that has grown to four locations. One of Russell's company's core values is reinvesting in our associates and the local community. He, and his employees, are active in all of the communities in which they are located, supporting organizations such as the Boys & Girls Harbor and The Neighborhood Centers, Inc., PTSD Foundation of America Camp Hope, Gulf Coast Regional Blood Center and St. Jude's Children's Hospital to name a few. Russell joined the Texas Restaurant Association in 1981 and has been active in the local Houston chapter, serving on the board and as chapter president. He's also a member of the TRA Board of Directors where he has served on the executive committee. The TRA Education Foundation also benefits from Russell's commitment to philanthropy, as he is a major donor that supports the Texas ProStart program for high school culinary arts and restaurant management.

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