The Pineapple Awards were handed out Monday at Solitary Vineyard in Friant. Photo via

published on May 23, 2022 - 10:34 AM
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.

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