Industry Excellence Awards Semi-Finalists Announced!

The Industry Excellence Awards, presented by Bar & Restaurant Expo and sunday, recognize, celebrate, and support the people who make the independent bar and restaurant industry great. These awards honor leaders for their talent, in addition to their integrity and commitment to equality, sustainability, community and culture across the industry.

Previously, our awards program was called the Nightclub & Bar Awards. This new name and brand is part of our Bar & Restaurant Expo evolution, and our continued commitment to championing the food and beverage industry.

Read on to find out who the 30 semi-finalists are. Final winners will be chosen by an anonymous group of industry experts. The winners will be announced at Bar & Restaurant Expo on March 23, 2022. Find out more about the show here.

Bartender of the Year

A bartender of exemplary performance, skill and dedication, both behind the bar and beyond it. This person has worked tirelessly to improve their bar program, their bar culture and the industry at large, serving as a positive example for other beverage professionals.

  • Brooke Rodwancy, The Gristmill Bar, OH
  • Inga Tantisalidchai, OLEA, CA
  • Josh Davis, Brown & Balanced, IL

Chef of the Year 

A chef who has dedicated themselves to culinary excellence, as well as sustainable, ethical practices and inclusive culture. This individual sets high personal and professional standards for food professionals across the industry, behind the pass and beyond it. 

  • Nicole Brisson, Brezza & Bar Zazu, NV
  • Rhonda McCullar, Uchi Dallas, TX
  • Tim McDiarmid, Tim the Girl Catering, TX

Cocktail Bar of the Year

A cocktail bar that consistently demonstrates exceptional hospitality, creativity, training, culture and service. The Cocktail Bar of the Year has a unique identity and has established itself as a leader within the category. 

  • drink.well, Austin, TX
  • Rocks & Drams, Ventura, CA
  • The Jones Assembly, Oklahoma City, OK

Community Leadership Award

This award is open to anyone in F&B who has demonstrated outstanding contributions and dedication to bettering their local community, and by extension, the F&B community at large. 

  • Adam Orman, L’Oca d’Oro / Good Work Austin, TX
  • Jeremy and Natalee Price, Taste of Tuscany Ristorante, CA
  • Sam Mustafa, Charleston Hospitality Group, SC

Innovator of the Year

This award is open to anyone in F&B who tirelessly moves the industry forward, pushing existing boundaries and establishing new foundations for the industry to build upon that are both equitable and sustainable.

  • Christie Lawler, The WITI Group, TX
  • Lindsey Johnson, Lush Life Productions, NY
  • Vyoone Lewis, Vyoones Restaurant, LA

LGBTQ Venue of the Year

This bar or restaurant consistently delivers exceptional hospitality, creativity and service, while championing the LGBTQ community. The LGBTQ Venue of the year fully epitomizes what it means to be an LGBTQ Venue, and has a demonstrated history of supporting the queer community. 

  • Bachelor Forum, Rochester, NY
  • Downtown Olly’s, Indianapolis, IN
  • Numbers Nightclub, Houston, TX

Most Original Concept

A new or rebranded bar or restaurant that breaks the mold of convention, creating an exciting, new standard likely to make a significant impact in years to come. (Must have launched or re-branded in 2021)

  • Cosmic Gorilla, Cincinnati, OH
  • Dad’s, Minot, ND
  • Loro, Dallas, TX

Operator of the Year

A bar / restaurant owner dedicated to exemplary hospitality, creative entrepreneurship, ethical business practices and the betterment of the industry at large. This person serves as a role model, paving the way for a better future for F&B. 

  • Barbara Sibley, La Palpa / Holiday Cocktail Bar, NY
  • Leslie Martin, Bouldin Creek Café, TX
  • Tara Gillum, Steiner’s Speakeasy, OH

Restaurant of the Year

A restaurant that consistently demonstrates exceptional hospitality, creativity, culture and service. This venue boasts a unique atmosphere, thoughtful F&B offerings, and a training program. The Restaurant of the Year has established itself as a leader in the community, and has made a significant impact within the industry. 

  • Carversteak, Las Vegas, NV
  • Gucci Osteria da Massimo Bottura, CA
  • Lumi, San Diego, CA

Sports Bar of the Year

A place that embodies the spirit of the category, including excellence across design, F&B offerings, training, events and community engagement. The Sports Bar of the Year has a unique brand identity, and has established itself as a leader within the category.

  • Caddies on Cordell, Bethesda, D.C.
  • Chatterbox Bar & Grill, Benton Harbor, MI
  • Dawg House Saloon & Sports Book, Las Vegas, NV
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The Industry Excellence Awards, presented by Bar & Restaurant Expo are proudly sponsored by sunday, an app that allows bar and restaurant customers to pay with just a QR code. (sunday )

The Bar & Restaurant Expo (formerly Nightclub & Bar Show) is a live, in-person event held March 21-23, 2022 at the Las Vegas Convention Center. Click here get your tickets now!  

For sponsorship opportunities, contact Fadi Alsayegh at [email protected], Veronica Gonnello at [email protected] or Tim Schultz at [email protected].

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