Atlanta, GA (June 17, 2019) – The Georgia Restaurant Association (GRA) is thrilled to announce the finalists and honorees for the 2019 Georgia Restaurant Association Crystal of Excellence (GRACE) Awards. All finalists are peer-nominated, ensuring the most deserving in the industry are recognized. Winners are chosen by the GRACE Academy, comprised of former GRACE finalists and honorees, as well as current GRA board members.


The GRACE Awards Gala, an exclusive event honoring those who have made outstanding contributions to Georgia’s restaurant industry, will take place at the Delta Flight Museum in Atlanta, GA on Sunday, August 11, 2019. At the event, winners for Restaurateur of the Year (Small/Independent and Large/Corporate), Industry Partner of the Year, Diversity Leadership Award and Distinguished Service Award will be announced. The GRA will also honor the Restaurant Employee of the Year, Restaurant Manager of the Year, ProStart Student of the Year, Chairman’s Award recipient and this year’s Lifetime Achievement Award recipient, Regynald Washington. Washington, who serves as President of the Dining Division at Paradies Lagardère, was recently named the 2019 Gold Plate Award recipient by the International Foodservice Manufacturers Association (IFMA). A complete list of GRACE finalists can be found at the end of this release.


“Georgia’s restaurant industry is truly unique, as are the people who work within it. The GRACE Awards gala is an opportunity to shine a spotlight on the incredible individuals and companies that devote themselves to creating a more hospitable world,” said Karen Bremer, CEO of the Georgia Restaurant Association. “Each day, restaurants bring people together. I am honored to put on this amazing event every year that brings our industry together.”


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

To learn more about the GRACE Awards or to purchase tickets visit



Restaurateur of the Year: Small/Independent
Delia Champion + John Amend, Delia’s Chicken Sausage Stand

Jamie Keating, EPIC Restaurant, Inc. | Jamie Keating Culinary, Inc.

Doug Turbush, Seed Kitchen & Bar | Stem Wine Bar | Drift Fish House & Oyster Bar


Restaurateur of the Year: Large/Corporate

Mellow Mushroom

Norsan Restaurants

Taco Mac


Industry Partner of the Year


Boelter Foodservice Design, Equipment and Supply

Retail Data Systems


Diversity Leadership Award

Tracy Gates, Busy Bee Cafe

Meherwan Irani, Chai Pani Restaurant Group

Maggie Antione + Reiko Clark, Ponko Chicken


Distinguished Service Award

Georgia Mountain Food Bank

Helms College | Edgar’s Hospitality Group

Tropical Smoothie Café


ProStart Student of the Year

To be determined by the Hospitality Education Foundation of Georgia (HEFG)


Manager of the Year

Andres Loaiza, Aria


Restaurant Employee of the Year

Donte Jenkins, Dantanna’s


Chairman’s Award

Carl Muth, FoodService Resource Associates


Lifetime Achievement Award

Regynald Washington, Paradies Lagardère


About the Georgia Restaurant Association

The GRA’s mission is to serve as the voice for Georgia’s Restaurants in Advocacy, Education and Awareness.  The GRA is sanctioned by the National Restaurant Association (NRA) to operate Georgia’s only not-for-profit representing the state’s foodservice industry. From large chains to start-ups, the GRA helps make Georgia a better place for restaurants to do business and helps make restaurants better for Georgia.


About the GRACE Awards

The GRACE Awards is the Georgia Restaurant Association’s annual black-tie gala event recognizing excellence in Georgia’s Restaurant Industry. The GRACE awards are peer-nominated and honor the top finalists in the following categories: Restaurateur of the Year (Small/Independent, Large/Corporate), Industry Partner of the Year, Diversity Leadership Award and the Distinguished Service Award. The winners are announced at the event and are presented with crystal works of art created by renowned local artist Hans-Godo Frabel.

For more information, tickets, and sponsorship opportunities, visit For media inquiries, please contact Melissa Lembo, manager of marketing and communications, at (404) 467-9000 or