The Pineapple Awards were handed out Monday at Solitary Vineyard in Friant. Photo via dineoutfresnocounty.com
Written by Gabriel Dillard
The people of the Central Valley spoke and named their favorite servers, cooks and managers at the recent Restaurant Industry Appreciation Bash.
The Fresno Chapter of the California Restaurant Association held the event celebrating workers in the local restaurant industry May 16 at Solitary Cellars in Friant.
In addition to live music, food trucks and drinks, the California Restaurant Association presented the Pineapple Awards to different workers throughout Fresno County.
A social media campaign from the Restaurant Association encouraged the public to nominate their favorite servers, bartenders, managers, cooks and more.
Falina Marihart, CFO and co-owner of 13 Prime Steak in Clovis, and chair of the event, said they received more than 200 nominations. They whittled the names down to five in each of 13 categories and voting online commenced.
And the winners are:
Favorite Server: Travis Campbell – Colton’s Social House
Favorite Bartender: Pat Vieira – Harris Ranch Inn & Restaurant
Favorite Manager: Bryan Jacobsen – Dog House Grill
Favorite Host/ Hostess: Ashley Gardener – The Point Patio Bar & Bistro
Favorite Line Cook: Teresa James – Harris Ranch Inn & Restaurant
Favorite Assistant Manager: Matt Franco – Pismo’s Coastal Grill
Favorite Stewart (Dishwasher): Trevor Valenzuela – Colton’s Social House
Favorite Back Waiter/ Busser: Luke Shepherd – Five Restaurant
Favorite Chef: Justin Shannon – Heirloom
Integrity: Christian Santana – 13 Prime Steak
Positive Attitude: Lindsay Unruh – Namikaze
Cheerleader/ Spirit: Nick Espiritu – Colton’s Social House
Community Service: Brandon Harris – 13 Prime Steak
The Restaurant Association also plays host to the Best of the Valley awards, normally held in January. Marihart said Covid restrictions had put the event up in the air, so they decided to hold the outdoor event celebrating restaurant workers this year.
“The CRA does the Best of the Valley event that focuses on the restaurant owner, we wanted to do something in appreciation of the employees and the people who helped us stay open during the pandemic,” said Marihart.
They are still determining whether they will hold the Appreciation Bash again next year, but they anticipate next year’s Best of the Valley awards to return in the first quarter of 2023.