National Restaurant Association Now Accepting Nominations for the Inaugural Operator Innovations Awards

Innovation drives progress in the restaurant and foodservice industry, fueling customer satisfaction and profitability. The National Restaurant Association is calling on individuals from throughout the industry to nominate commercial and non-commercial operators for the National Restaurant Association’s inaugural Operator Innovations Awards. Selected by an independent panel of judges, the winners will be recognized as leaders who transform the industry with their extraordinary creativity and commitment. The winners will be announced during the 2012 National Restaurant Association Restaurant, Hotel-Motel Show (held at its new dates, May 5-8 at Chicago’s McCormick Place).

Commercial and non-commercial operators may self-nominate. Manufacturers, dealers and distributors, media and other restaurant and foodservice industry professionals are also invited to also submit nominations for operators at by March 7, 2012.

“Innovation and excellence in execution drive growth in the restaurant industry,” said Jack Crawford, Convention Chair for NRA Show 2012 and President and CEO of Ground Round Independent Owners Cooperative, LLC. “Recognizing this, the National Restaurant Association is launching the new Operator Innovations Awards to celebrate and encourage continued advancement, while shining a spotlight on industry-leading innovators who inspire other restaurant operators to new heights.”

The industry-first awards will celebrate the best the industry has to offer in innovation in five distinct categories: Technology Applications, Sustainability, Menu Development, Food Safety, and Health & Nutrition. An independent panel of judges will narrow nominations to three finalists in each category. Winners in each category, as well as an innovator of the year, will be announced at an evening event featuring cocktails, dinner and marquee entertainment on Saturday, May 5.

The judges panel for the Operator Innovations Awards represents the major segments of the foodservice industry. All nominations are reviewed by the panel of industry leaders consisting of Patricia Bando (Associate Vice President, Auxiliary Services, Boston College), Scott Barton (President, Fine Dining Division, Lettuce Entertain You), Jeff Broadhurst (President & CEO, Eat’n Park Hospitality Group), Marc Buehler (President, O’Charleys), Jean-Marie Clement (Director, Global Food & Beverage Line of Business, Walt Disney Parks and Resorts Worldwide), Douglas Davis (Director, Global Food Safety, Marriott International), Chris Demery (Vice President, Applications, OSI Restaurant Partners, LLC), James Houser (Vice President of Administration, Delaware North), John Metz, Jr. (President, Sterling), Christopher Pappas (CEO, Pappas Restaurants, Inc.), C.W. Craig Reed (Director of Food & Beverage, Broadmoor Hotel), and Ron Serluco (Senior Vice President of Operators, Guckenheimer).

For more information and the nomination form, visit

The annual National Restaurant Association Restaurant, Hotel-Motel Show is the largest single gathering of restaurant, foodservice and lodging professionals. NRA Show 2012 will be held at its new dates May 5-8, at McCormick Place in Chicago. The event attracts 58,000+ attendees and visitors from all 50 states and 100+ countries, and showcases the latest products, services, innovative ideas, up-to-the-minute information about trends and issues and other growth opportunities than any other industry event. For more information, visit the Show Web site at

Founded in 1919, the National Restaurant Association is the leading business association for the restaurant industry, which comprises 960,000 restaurant and foodservice outlets and a workforce of nearly 13 million employees. We represent the industry in Washington, D.C., and advocate on its behalf. We operate the industry’s largest trade show (NRA Show May 5-8, 2012, in Chicago); leading food safety training and certification program (ServSafe); unique career-building high school program (the NRAEF’s ProStart, including the National ProStart Invitational April 27-29, 2012, in Baltimore, Md.); as well as the Kids LiveWell program promoting healthful kids’ menu options. For more information, visit and find us on Twitter @WeRRestaurants, Facebook and YouTube.