The North Carolina Restaurant and Lodging Association, the voice of North Carolina’s restaurant, foodservice and lodging industry, hosted its annual Stars of the Industry awards ceremony on Monday.
The eighteen award recipients were recognized at the Sheraton Imperial Hotel in Durham, and were selected based on their exemplary service, leadership, innovation and dedication to the restaurant and lodging industries.
“We are so proud to recognize the hardworking people in the hospitality industry,” said NCRLA President and CEO Lynn Minges. “The challenges never stop, but this group of men and women kept innovating and changing to keep their businesses and our industry up and running.”
Two members of the North Carolina General Assembly, Sen. Phil Berger and Rep. John Bradford, were recognized for their leadership. Their exceptional support resulted in thousands of businesses getting back $500 million in Hospitality Business Grants last year.
Other honorees recognized for their commitment to the industry were North Carolina Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler, who won the Hospitality Partner of the Year, Angus Barn owners Van Eure and Steve Thanhauser, who won the Ken Conrad Award for Service to the Community, and Dave Gronewoller from GC Partners in Winston Salem, who took home the Griff & June Glover Award for Service to the Association.
In addition to running their businesses, this group of people spent a lot of their precious time protecting and advancing issues related to the hospitality industry across the state.
After 35 years at Golden Corral, President & CEO Lance Trenary won NCRLA’s Lifetime Achievement Award.
The 2023 NCRLA Stars of the Industry award recipients are:
Restauranteur of the Year
- Scott Crawford, Crawford Hospitality
Lodging Operator of the Year:
- Gary Chhabra, CMC Hotels
Hospitality Partner of the Year
- Steve Troxler, Department of Agriculture
Ken Conrad Award for Service to the Community
- Steve Thanhauser & Van Eure, Angus Barn
Griff & June Glover Award for Service to the Association
- Dave Gronewoller, GC Partners, Inc.
Restaurant Managers of the Year:
- Igor Gacina, Giorgios Hospitality Group
- Ashley Greene, Bluewater Waterfront Grill
Restaurant Employee of the Year:
- Matthew Barry, Midwood Smokehouse
Lodging Managers of the Year
- Jason Whitaker, Extended Stay America
- Mike Masri, Embassy Suites by Hilton Charlotte Uptown
Lodging Employees of the Year:
- Charles Prince, TownePlace Suites Wilmington
- Regina Triche, Hampton Inn & Suites Jacksonville
- Faustina Tagoe, The Umstead Hotel and Spa
Hospitality Champions of the Year
- Rep. John Bradford
- Sen. Phil Berger
NCRLA Lifetime Achievement Award
- Lance Trenary, Golden Corral Corporation
The emcee for the night was Wade Minter, who is the public address announcer for the NHL’s Carolina Hurricanes.
The evening was made possible thanks to dedicated sponsors, including Presenting Sponsor US Foods; Photobooth Sponsor SpotOn; Silver Sponsors Ecolab, Employers, Healthy Hospitality, Uber Eats and Duke Energy; Bronze Sponsors Pepsi, Atlas Productions and Meetings on Cue; Registration Sponsor Insurance People; Supporting Sponsor Alsco Uniforms; Wine Sponsors Shelton Vineyards and Tryon Distributing; Cocktail Sponsors Blue Shark Vodka, Broad Branch Distillery and Mystic Farm and Distillery; and Beer Sponsors Clouds Brewing, Little City Brewing and Trophy Brewing.