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Nominees for the 2024 Texas Restaurant Awards Revealed, Celebrating the Industry's Brightest Stars

 

Texas Restaurant Awards recognize the achievements of individual restaurants and chefs and highlights the importance of community and collaboration within the Texas foodservice industry.

AUSTIN, TX (May 16, 2024) –
Today, the Texas Restaurant Association (TRA) announced the nominees for its coveted Texas Restaurant Awards, highlighting some of the state’s most exciting restaurant owners, operators and champions. The anticipated celebration kicks off the Texas Restaurant Foundation’s (TRF) annual Lone Star Bash during the Texas Restaurant Show, which takes place July 13-15, 2024, at Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center, in San Antonio, Texas. Winners will be revealed during the 2024 Texas Restaurant Awards ceremony, Sunday, July 14, 2024.

"We are excited to announce the nominees for the 2024 Awards and celebrate their remarkable accomplishments," expressed Emily Williams Knight, Ed.D., President & CEO of the TRA and TRF. "These nominees represent restaurants from all corners of Texas, showcasing exceptional dedication and excellence in their craft. We eagerly anticipate honoring these pioneering industry leaders at the Texas Restaurant Awards & Lone Star Bash in San Antonio."

The TRA is the nation’s second largest restaurant association and represents the state’s $106 billion restaurant industry, which encompasses more than 57,000 locations and a workforce of over 1.4 million employees. For more than 30 years, the TRA Awards are coveted by the state’s hospitality leaders.

Award category Descriptions: (Nominee Listing Follows)

HALL OF HONOR 
A long-standing Texas Restaurant Association tradition, outstanding individuals are inducted to the Hall of Honor each year to recognize their significant contribution to the Texas restaurant industry and to the association. This honor is the highest that the Association can bestow. To qualify, nominees must have a minimum of 15 years of TRA membership and exemplify superior business ethics.

OUTSTANDING RESTAURATEUR OF THE YEAR AWARD 
Every year, restaurateurs around the state are honored for their work in their communities, leadership success, and entrepreneurial spirit. The finalists for this award come from the pool of winners of the Outstanding Restaurateur Awards, chosen by the individual 23 chapters that comprise the TRA. 

RISING STAR AWARD 
This award recognizes the hard work that goes into opening a restaurant. This person or concept is an up-and-comer with ambitious goals and the grit to achieve them. 

DEEP IN THE HEART AWARD
Texas is massive and filled with amazing talent. This award is designed to highlight those successful and creative restaurant owners and chefs with concepts not located in one of the big four metro areas (Houston, Dallas, San Antonio, or Austin). 

COMMUNITY IMPACT AWARD
The TRA’s Community Impact Award is awarded to a nominee who is an active member of the TRA community that has demonstrated a legacy of uniting and empowering their community. Community may be defined in many different ways to reflect the tremendous diversity within our industry, including race, religion, gender, sexuality, veteran, culture, and more.

CHEF TIM KELLY AWARD FOR EDUCATOR EXCELLENCE 
Texas ProStart instructors who demonstrate leadership and excellence in culinary education are eligible to contend for the annual Educator Excellence Award. Teachers must be advocates of the Texas ProStart program and dedicated to helping students achieve success. This is awarded to educators who have made significant contributions in the classroom and beyond.

THE CARMELO MAURO SPIRIT OF GENEROSITY AWARD 
The Carmelo Mauro Award is an annual recognition, given by the Texas Restaurant Foundation (TRF), for outstanding achievement by an individual philanthropist who has demonstrated the highest ethical standards, commitment, dedication, and talent toward the future of the restaurant and food service industry.

EXCELLENCE IN JOURNALISM AWARD
The Excellence in Journalism Award was created in 2023 recognizes work in media and journalism that goes above and beyond to promote the restaurant and foodservice industry as well as provide insight into how our industry functions and the issues facing operators. We proudly recognize the hard work and dedication of journalists and/or organizations who strive to inform and educate the public while upholding the highest journalistic standards.

OUTSTANDING PARTNER OF THE YEAR 
Restaurants depend on the service and support of their suppliers to be prepared to serve delicious meals and deliver memorable experiences. The Outstanding Partner of the Year recognizes the supplier or service provider to the foodservice industry that has gone above and beyond to provide exceptional service and support to the restaurants of Texas.

RESTAURANT INDUSTRY CHAMPION AWARD 
The Restaurant Industry Champion Award was created in 2023 to celebrate policymakers, organizations and individuals who go above and beyond to protect and strengthen Texas’ restaurant industry. Recipients will be selected on the basis of their service and the exceptional impact they’ve had on the laws, regulations, and business environment that empower restaurants to serve their communities.

SKEETER MILLER EXCELLENCE IN ADVOCACY AWARD 
The Skeeter Miller Excellence in Advocacy Award was created in 2023 to celebrate a member who demonstrates an extraordinary commitment to our advocacy efforts on behalf of Texas’ entire foodservice industry. The annual award is named in honor of its inaugural recipient, Skeeter Miller of The County Line Restaurants. Skeeter exemplifies the qualities that make a trusted advocate and has spent countless hours speaking up for restaurants at the local, state, and federal levels. The TRA is proud to celebrate restaurant leaders who follow Skeeter’s example by investing their time and treasure to advocate on behalf of the industry they love.

NOMINEES IN EACH CATEGORY ARE LISTED BELOW:

HALL OF HONOR INDUCTEES

 Inductee  Restaurant   City
 Roy Bara   La Fiesta Grande Restaurants   Amarillo 
 Gary Johnson   Frontier Enterprises   San Antonio 
 Sharon Van Meter   SVM Productions   Dallas 

OUTSTANDING RESTAURATEUR OF THE YEAR presented by Texas Mutual
Nominees are comprised of the 2024 TRA Chapter Restaurateur of the Year recipients: 

 Chapter  Restaurateur of the Year  Restaurant 
 Abilene   Cory & Ryan Marrs   Belle's Chicken Dinner House 
 Brazos Valley   David Girela   Fuego Tortilla Grill 
 Coastal Bend   Kathryn Snapka   Snapka's Drive-In 
 East Texas   Scott Williams   FD's, Javi's, & Twelve 
 El Paso   John Geske & Nick Bauer   Union Draft House 
 Galveston   Jan Collier   Rudy & Paco Restaurant & Bar 
 Greater Austin   Gloria Reyna   Matt's El Rancho 
 Greater Dallas   Lauran Weiner   Big Al's Smokehouse 
 Greater Houston   Alex Au Yeung   Phat Eatery 
 Lubbock   Joe Keller   Triple J Chophouse 
 Montgomery County   Mario Valadez   Conroe's Incredible Pizza Company 
 North Texas   Craig Martindale   Taco Casa 
 Panhandle   Colby Monroe   Panhandle Restaurant Group 
 Permian Basin   Chris Morales   Gerardo's Casita 
 Rio Grande Valley   Gabriel Fuentes   Nuri Fusion Street Kitchen 
 San Angelo   Kurt Klausner   Sunset Jr.  
 San Antonio   Lisa Wong   Rosario's ComidaMex & Bar 
 Southeast Texas   Jesi Jones & Jami Abbo   Courville's Catering & Meat Co. 
 Tarrant Co.   Jon Bonnell   Bonnell's Restaurant Group 
 Waco   Ted Browning & Kyle Ferguson   Shorty's Pizza Shack 

 

RISING STAR AWARD presented by Auto-Chlor
The 2024 nominees are...

 Chapter  Nominee  Restaurant/Organization
 Fort Worth   Jonny White, Lane Milne, & Jalen Heard   Goldee's BBQ, Ribbees 
 San Antonio   John & Elise Russ   Clementine 
 Dallas   Lan Nickens   Chamberlain's Steakhouse 
 Austin   Tracy & Arjav Ezekiel   Birdie's 

 

DEEP IN THE HEART AWARD presented by Ben E. Keith
The 2024 nominees are...

Chapter Nominee Restaurant/Organization
 Waco   Kyle Citrano   George's  
 Midland   Ruben Carrasco   Pachuco's
 Marble Falls   Dave & Lindsay Plante   Blue Bonnet Café 
 Lubbock   Jeremy Waller   Picosos Mexican Kitchen

 

CHEF TIM KELLY AWARD FOR EDUCATOR EXCELLENCE

 Awardee   Educational Institution
 Jacquelyn Baker-Roberson & David Roberson   Ben Barber Innovation Academy 

 

COMMUNITY IMPACT AWARD presented by ECOLAB - Announced at Event

CARMELO MAURO SPIRIT OF GENEROSITY AWARD - Announced at Event

EXCELLENCE IN JOURNALISM AWARD - Announced at Event

OUTSTANDING PARTNER OF THE YEAR - Announced at Event

RESTAURANT INDUSTRY CHAMPION AWARD - Announced at Event

SKEETER MILLER EXCELLENCE IN ADVOCACY AWARD - Announced at Event

TO PURCHASE TICKETS AND LEARN MORE ABOUT THE AWARDS CLICK HERE
www.txrestaurant.org/awards

ABOUT THE TEXAS RESTAURANT ASSOCIATION
Formed in 1937, the Texas Restaurant Association (TRA) serves as the advocate and indispensable resource for the foodservice industry in Texas. As a leading business association, the TRA represents the state’s $106 billion restaurant industry, which encompasses more than 57,000 locations and a workforce of over 1.4 million employees. Along with the Texas Restaurant Foundation, the workforce development arm of the TRA, the association proudly continues to protect, advance, and educate a growing industry as the TRA enters its 87th anniversary year. For more information, please visit www.txrestaurant.org.


ABOUT THE TEXAS RESTAURANT FOUNDATION 
Established in 1994 by the Texas Restaurant Association, the Texas Restaurant Foundation (TRF) is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization dedicated to building and maintaining a strong professional foodservice workforce in Texas. Leveraging the latest skills, tools, and certifications, the TRF creates pathways of opportunity for one of the state’s largest and most diverse industries. The organization’s flagship program is Texas ProStart, an industry-based, two-year high school culinary arts and restaurant management program that reaches more than 27,000 students across 252 high schools in Texas. The TRF also supports restaurants in times of crisis; for example, in 2020, the TRF established the TX Restaurant Relief Fund to raise and distribute more than $3.5 million to support over 800 independent restaurants and their employees through the COVID-19 pandemic.