The Stars Were Bright at the 2023 Texas Restaurant Awards
Winners Announced by the Texas Restaurant Association Representing Some of Texas’ Best Restaurateurs
AUSTIN, TX (July 17, 2023) – 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.
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.”
The TRA is the nation’s largest restaurant association and represents the state’s $95 billion restaurant industry, which encompasses upwards of 55,000 locations and a workforce of over 1.4 million employees. For more than 30 years, the Texas Restaurant Awards are coveted by the state’s hospitality leaders.
And the winners are…
Newly Added Awards for 2023
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.
Inaugural 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.
Inaugural 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.
Rep. Dustin Burrows, House of Representatives, District 83
Sen. Brandon Creighton, State Senate, District 4
THE SKEETER MILLER EXCELLENCE IN ADVOCACY AWARD
The Skeeter Miller Excellence in Advocacy Award is being 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.
Inaugural Awardee: Don "Skeeter" Miller, County Line BBQ
Major Award Categories Include:
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.
Inaugural Awardee: Rory Schepisi, The Drunken Oyster & Savor (Amarillo, Panhandle Chapter)
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).
Inaugural Awardees: Bobby and Danny Lee, The Big Texan Steak Ranch (Amarillo)
COMMUNITY IMPACT AWARD
The TRA’s Community Impact Award, introduced in 2022, is awarded to a nominee who is an active member of the TRA that 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.
Inaugural Awardee: Chris Shepherd, Southern Smoke Foundation (Houston)
OUTSTANDING RESTAURATEUR OF THE YEAR AWARD
Every year, restaurateurs around the state are honored for 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.
Inaugural Awardee: Blanca Aldaco, Aldaco's Mexican Cuisine (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.
Capwell "Cappy" Lawton, Cappy's Restaurant (San Antonio)
Jerry Morales, Mulberry Cafe (Midland, Permian Basin Chapter)
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. Awarded to educators who have made significant contributions in the classroom and beyond.
Inaugural Awardee: Cheryll Harris, Emmett J. Conrad High School (Dallas)
THE CARMELO MAURO SPIRIT OF GENEROSITY AWARD
The Carmelo Mauro Award is 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.
Inaugural Awardees: Auto-Chlor & Ecolab
Tony Abruscato (Chief Marketing Officer) & Kelsey Erickson Streufert (Chief Public Affairs Officer)
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 $87 billion restaurant industry, which encompasses more than 53,000 locations and a workforce of over 1.3 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 86th 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 25,000 students across 215 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.