The Texas Restaurant Association (TRA) is thrilled to announce the winners of the 2023 Texas Restaurant Awards and extend a heartfelt thank you for their dedication and commitment to hospitality. Sunday July 9th marked an exciting occasion honoring industry leaders from all across Texas. Stay tuned for 2024 nominees and awards! 

The awards ceremony and following “party with a purpose” Lone Star Bash were held at 713 Music Hall, Houston, TX, as part of the much-anticipated celebration of the Texas restaurant industry during the Texas Restaurant Show (George R. Brown Convention Center, July 7-10), now in its 86th year. In addition to the awards the evening featured bites from 26 Texas Restaurants, a mixologist competition, and a live performance by BMI recording artist Jack Ingram.

“We are humbled by the opportunity to recognize these individuals and companies who have gone above and beyond to support the hospitality industry in our great state. The Texas Restaurant Association congratulates all of the winners of this year’s Texas Restaurant Awards. Their hard work and dedication is truly inspiring, and we look forward to seeing even more success from these honorees in the years to come,” said Emily Williams Knight, Ed.D., President & CEO of the TRA and TRF. “The nominees and winners are a shining example of excellence in the Texas hospitality industry.”

And the winners are…


Four new awards have been introduced for 2023:

INNOVATION IN EDUCATION AWARD
EXCELLENCE IN JOURNALISM AWARD
RESTAURANT INDUSTRY CHAMPION AWARD
SKEETER MILLER EXCELLENCE IN ADVOCACY AWARD

Innovation in Education Award

New for this year, the Innovation in Education Award serves to recognize individuals, groups or organizations that have demonstrated a commitment to innovation and excellence in the field of culinary and hospitality education. The Award is a celebration of those who have dedicated themselves to improving the education experience for both students and teachers and demonstrated a willingness to push boundaries in order to support the preparation of our workforce.

2023 Awardee: McAllen ISD, S.T.R.I.D.E.S. Program


Excellence in Journalism Award

Also new for this year, the Excellence in Journalism Award 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.

2023 Awardee: Pat Sharpe, Executive Editor, Texas Monthly 


Restaurant Industry Champion Award

The TRA is introducing the Restaurant Industry Champion Award this year 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. 

2023 Awardees:
Rep. Dustin Burrows, House of Representatives, District 83 
Sen. Brandon Creighton, State Senate, District 4 


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. 

2023 Awardee: Skeeter Miller, County Line BBQ (Austin, San Antonio) 


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. Open to restaurant owners and chefs with a restaurant business which opened no later than the award year: January 1, 2023.

  • 2023: Rory Schepisi, The Drunken Oyster & Savor (Amarillo)
  • 2022: Christian Dortch, Georgie by Curtis Stone (Dallas)
  • 2021: Harlan Scott, Industry (San Marcos)

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).

  • 2023: Bobby & Danny Lee, The Big Texan Steak Ranch & Brewery (Amarillo)
  • 2022: Norma Frances "Tootsie" Tomanetz, Snow's BBQ (Lexington)
  • 2021: Sanif Maredia, MESS Waffles (College Station)

Community Impact Award

The TRA’s Inaugural Community Impact Award is awarded to a nominee who is an active member of the TRA who has a demonstrated 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.  

  • 2023: Chris Shepherd, Southern Smoke Foundation (Houston)
  • 2022: Ruth Thompson, Hugs Cafe (McKinney)

Outstanding Restaurateur of the Year Award

Every year, restaurateurs around the state are honored for work in their communities, leadership success, and entrepreneurial spirit. Winners of the Outstanding Restaurateur Award are recognized during Lone Star Bash ft. the Texas Restaurant Awards event. The finalists for this award come from the pool of Outstanding Restaurateur Awards, chosen by their chapter. 

2023 Winner of the Texas Restaurateur of the Year Award:

Blanca Aldaco, Aldaco's Mexican Cuisine (San Antonio)

 

2023 Chapter Outstanding Restaurateur Winners:

 

Chapter                       Restaurateur of the Year       Restaurant

Abilene                        Amanda O'Connor                  Cypress Street Station Restaurant

Brazos Valley               Mary Beckman                        Admiral Catering

Coastal Bend               Glenn Mier                              Black Sheep Bistro and The Angry Marlin

East Texas                   Paul Bambrey                         Jalapeno Tree

El Paso                         Vanessa Duran                        L&J Cafe

Galveston                    Chef Megan Walker                Galveston Restaurant Group

Greater Austin            Travis Tober                            Nickel City

Greater Dallas             Hiawatha Williams                  Williams Chicken

Houston                      Janice Jucker                           Three Brothers Bakery

Lubbock                      Carrie Britton                          The Funky Door

Montgomery County  Jim Hallers                              Citizens Grill

North Texas                Craig Bolles                             Texas Roadhouse

Panhandle                   Chef Jessica Higgins                Girasol Bakery and Cafe

Permian Basin             Amber Davis                           Cork & Pig Tavern, Red Oak Kitchen

Rio Grande Valley       Russell Walker                        Pasta Ventures

Sabine Area                 Min Dai                                   Obana Restaurant Group

San Angelo                  Yolanda Franco                       Western Sky Steakhouse

San Antonio                Blanca Aldaco                         Aldaco's Mexican Cuisine

Tarrant County           Marcus Paslay                         From Scratch Hospitality

Waco                           Phillip & Yvette Helberg          Helberg Barbecue


 

Prior Year Recipients: 

 

2022 Winner of the Texas Restaurateur of the Year Award:

Alli Jarrett, Harold's Restaurant (Houston)

2022 Chapter Outstanding Restaurateur Winners: 

Abilene Chapter — Lindsay Flores, Lytle Land & Cattle Company
Brazos Valley Chapter — Clayton Rhoades, Chicken Express
Coastal Bend Chapter — Sam Canavati, Brewsters Street Ice House
El Paso Chapter — Jim Diaz, Pelican's Steak & Seafood
Galveston Chapter — Dennis Byrd, Island Famous
Greater Austin Chapter — Alex Eagle, Freebirds World Burrito
Greater Dallas Chapter — Christopher Aslam, Rock Strategic Restaurant Group
Greater Houston Chapter — Alli Jarrett, Harold's Restaurant
Lubbock Chapter — Jerol Fanta, Orlando's Italian Restaurant
Montgomery County Chapter — Darin McKenzie, McKenzie's Barbecue & Burgers
North Texas Chapter — Bob Bratcher, Daddy Bob's Smokewagon
Panhandle Chapter — Dallas Hager, Joe Taco
Permian Basin Chapter — Michael Ramirez, 10 Sports Bar & Grill
Rio Grande Valley Chapter — Sony Rego, Santa Fe Steakhouse
Sabine Area Chapter — Frankie Randazzo, Madison's Group
San Angelo Chapter — Ronnie Cajas, Street Eats
San Antonio Chapter — Dave Saylor, Acadiana Café
Tarrant County Chapter — Rena Frost, Mac's on Main
Waco Chapter — Massimo Di Campli, Di Campli's Italian Ristorante

2021 Winner of the Texas Restaurateur of the Year Award:

Masroor Fatany, The Halal Guys (Houston)

2021 Chapter Outstanding Restaurateur Winners:

  • Luis and Rita Barragan (Casa Chapala – Austin)
  • May Nardone (Mikel May’s Beachside Bar and Grill – Coastal Bend)
  • Lloyd Nichols (The Diner – East Texas)
  • Mike Dean (Yaga’s Presents – Galveston)
  • Jimmy Contreras (Taco y Vino – Dallas)
  • Bob Bratcher (Daddy Bob’s BBQ – North Texas)
  • Jessica Delgado (Salome – Rio Grande Valley)
  • Rosa Hogeda Torrez (Original Henry’s Diner – San Angelo)
  • Russell Kirkpatrick (Reata – Tarrant County)
  • Chris Berry (River Smith’s – Lubbock)

2019 Chapter Outstanding Restaurateur Winners:

  • Richard Dewitt Jr.
    Clear Springs Restaurant, East Texas Chapter
  • Jerry Maddox
    Fazoli's, Rio Grande Valley Chapter
  • Yolanda Franco
    Western Sky Steakhouse, San Angelo Chapter
  • Chris Berry
    River Smith's, Lubbock Chapter
  • Ed Hudson
    Jason's Deli, Coastal Bend Chapter
  • Tilman Fertitta
    Landry's,Greater Houston Restaurant Association

2018 Chapter Outstanding Restaurateur Winners:

  • Tim Condon
    Lonestar Cheeseburger Company
    Angry Cactus West Texas Bar & Grill
    San Angelo
  • Larry Delgado
    house. wine. & bistro.
    SALT – New American Table
    McAllen - Rio Grande Chapter
  • Andrew Gugar
    Posadas Cafe
    East Texas
  • Kendall Howard
    Howard Restaurant Group
    Lubbock
  • Doris and Paul Miller
    Gr8 Plate Hospitality
    Greater Houston

2017 Chapter Outstanding Restaurateur Winners:

  • Sharon Watkins
    Chez Zee American Bistro | Austin
  • Damian and Trina Mandola
    Mandola’s | Austin
  • Janice Provost
    Parigi | Dallas
  • Aaron Lyons
    Dish Society | Houston
  • Mike Van Syckle
    Atomic Omelette and Grill | Rio Grande Valley
  • Phil Bradley
    Copper Caboose | Lubbock
  • Erik Zobel and Je’na Wall (posthumous)
    Zero One Ale House | San Angelo
  • Brian Kelleher
    575 Pizzeria | Amarillo
  • Arthur Garcia
    Nicha’s Comida Mexicana | San Antonio
  • Veronica Segovia Esparza
    Absolutely Delicious Catering and Blanco BBQ | San Antonio

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. Criteria include significant time and energy devoted to the benefit of TRA and its members, as well as his or her local chapter. Nominees must also gain proper recognition for the restaurant industry and help to build a positive image.

2023 Hall of Honor Inductees:

 

Past Winners

2022

2021

2020

2019

Read the press release on our 2019 Hall of Honor Nominees

2018

2017

2016

2015

2014

2013

2011

  • Gerard Cace
  • Carmelo Mauro, Houston
  • Tom Kenney, Austin

2010

  • Malcolm DeShields, Corpus Christi
  • Ed Murph, Carrollton
  • Ralph Sheffield, Temple

2009

  • Harvey Kloesel, Moulton
  • Raul Molina, Jr., Houston
  • Betty Zentner, San Angelo

2008

  • Viola Barrios
  • Richie Jackson, Austin
  • Don Pittman

2007

  • Bruce Walcutt
  • Jim Baron, Dallas

2006

  • Richard Galvan, Frisco
  • Francisco "Paco" Vargas, Galveston
  • Gerald Stone, Austin

2005

  • Anthony Duncan, El Paso
  • Tom Perini, Buffalo Gap
  • Peggy Scott, Fort Worth

2004

  • Earl Abel, Jr.,
  • Bob Barnes, Granbury

2003

  • Bill Daniel, Wichita Falls
  • Brad Lomax, Corpus Christi
  • Gene Street, Dallas

2002

  • George W. DeWinne, San Antonio
  • Ernie Stith, Longview

2001

  • Hope Garcia Lancarte, Fort Worth
  • Christopher J. Pappas, Houston

2000

  • Bobby D. Cox, Fort Worth
  • Matt G. Martinez, Jr.,

1999

  • Larry Forehand, Bellaire
  • Chris Semos

1998

  • W. H. “Bill” Cromer
  • Dick Dozier

1997

  • A. J. Leger
  • Hans Nadler, San Antonio
  • Beatrice Trevino, Victoria

1996

  • David Cortez, San Antonio
  • W. O. “Ted” Thedford

1995

  • Norman Brinker, Dallas
  • Larry D. Durrett, Jacksonville
  • Frank L. Smith

1994

  • Michael Colias
    John K. Miller, San Antonio

1993

  • C. “Gus” Katsigris, Dallas
  • Mary Levy, Waco
  • Jack C. Richmond, San Antonio

1992

  • Sonny Bryan
  • Frank Green, Stephenville
  • Robert Hawk, Rockwall
  • Gus Keriotis
  • Robert Levy

1991

  • Herb Blankinship, Midland
  • William Horan, Fort Worth
  • Earl Mayfield, San Antonio
  • Milton Neitsch, Jr., Victoria

1990

  • Frank Cuellar, Sr.
  • Dee Haven, Corpus Christi
  • Bob Lee
  • Miguel Martinez

1989

  • Gertrude Applebaum, Elkins Park
  • Rosemary Garbett, Houston
  • Macky Sellers
  • Albert Totah, Victoria

1988

  • Earl Abel, Sr.
  • H.M. “Bill” Bennett
  • Louis Hochman
  • Guy T. Jones
  • Jim L. Peterson, Mooreseville

1987

  • Fred W. Dollar
  • Carolyn Weldon Goodman
  • B. J. Kirby
  • Balous Miller, San Antonio
  • Method Snapka

1986

  • Bruce Allred
  • Jack Bell
  • W. Leroy Daniel
  • Matt Martinez, Sr.
  • Jack Sosebee
  • Samuel Tschirhart, Sr., Castroville
  • C.A. Sanford, Jr., Fort Worth

1985

  • Harry Akin
  • Guillermo Avila, El Paso
  • Robert R. Horan
  • Bill McCoy
  • A.G. Moncla
  • John E. Sohrweide
  • Andrew F. Stasio

1984

  • Roy Blankenship, DeKalb
  • Pete V. Cortez
  • Charles W. Horan, Jr.
  • Alfred Kahn
  • Lucas N. Postolos
  • Giles D. Spiller

1983

  • John S. Cace, Jr.
  • Mack Eplen
  • Leon Gillespie
  • Charles Goodnight
  • Carlo S. Messina
  • Lynon Owens
  • Victor J. Patrizi

1982

  • G. Jim Hasslocher, San Antonio
  • Charles W. Horan, Sr.
  • I. Tom Katz
  • Charles Langford
  • G. D. “Sonny” Look
  • Harry F. Porter
  • George W. Williams

1981

  • Patrick D. Moreland
  • W. Price, Jr.

1937 Founders

  • Victor Colias
  • Mr. and Mrs. Dave Crowder
  • T. C. Daniel | W. C. Dunton
  • V. A. Harrison
  • J. D. Houston
  • Sim T. Lake
  • R. C. Lawler
  • V. H. Osborn | Earl Smith

Texas Restaurant Foundation Chef Tim Kelly 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.

2023 Honoree: Cheryll Harris, Emmett J. Conrad High School

Awarded to educators who have made significant contributions in the classroom and beyond, the award package includes the following:
  • $1000 cash prize 
  • Complimentary registration to the ProStart Educators Training Conference 
  • 2 tickets to the Texas Restaurant Show 
  • 2 tickets to Texas Restaurant Awards & Lone Star Bash 
  • One-night hotel stay at the Texas Restaurant Show 

2022 Honoree: Chef Tyler Kent Osburn "Chef TKO", Waller High School


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 towards the future of the restaurant and foodservice industry.

2023 Awardees: Auto-Chlor & Ecolab

Prior Recipients of the Carmelo Award:

  • 2022 - Patrick Costello, St. Philip's College (San Antonio)
  • 2021 - Skeeter Miller, County Line BBQ (Austin)
  • 2019 – Roger Kaplan, RK Innovations
  • 2018 – Russell Woodward, Texas Beef Council 
  • 2017 – Russel Ybarra 
  • 2016 – Margaret McKoin, The Time Group 
  • 2016 – Carmelo Mauro, Carmelo’s Ristorante Italiano 

Award Criteria

  • Must have a record of distinguished service to the TRF; 
  • Must have made a lasting contribution to the restaurant and foodservice industry and the mission of the TRF; 
  • Must have exhibited leadership and provided inspiration to others in the restaurant and foodservice industry; 
  • Must have positively influenced the restaurant and foodservice industry on a state, national or international level. 

Nomination Process

The Carmelo Award will be presented to the recipient during the Texas Restaurant Awards. Nominees should be cleared to attend the event prior to submitting their name for the award.

For questions regarding the Carmelo Award or the nomination process, contact Susan Petty, Chief of Staff, at [email protected] .