Applications Period Open for National Restaurant Association’s Restaurant Industry Awards


Awards Honoring Restaurant Operators and Employees for Outstanding Community Service and Entrepreneurship Living the America Dream

Restaurants nationwide now have the chance to gain national recognition by applying for the National Restaurant Association’s 2012 Restaurant Industry Awards. The industry awards, which go back 14 years, are given in two distinct categories.

The Restaurant Neighbor Award, sponsored by and co-founded in 1999 by American Express (, recognizes restaurants for outstanding community service.
The Faces of Diversity Award, sponsored by PepsiCo Foodservice (, celebrates the diversity of the industry honoring three individuals who have realized the American Dream.

Restaurants may apply online at before December 5, 2011.

“The restaurant industry is one of the most diverse in the country, employing more minority managers than any other business sector. It is also one of the most charitable in the United States. To celebrate our successes and shine the spotlight on the important role the industry plays in improving the quality of life, we are thrilled to launch this call for nominations for the 2012 Restaurant Industry Awards.” said Dawn Sweeney, president and CEO, National Restaurant Association.

Restaurant Neighbor Award

The Restaurant Neighbor Award honors restaurants in the field of outstanding community service and involvement. Participating state restaurant associations choose their state winners to compete for the national award and four national winners receive $5,000 each to support their community efforts.

Last year’s winners run the gamut — from a coalition of 52 restaurants in Charleston, SC who joined together to address the hunger issue in their community; a restaurateur who created a special camp for disadvantaged youth; and a chain of restaurants in Western Pennsylvania and Ohio that have raised millions of dollars for children’s hospital through staff-driven fundraisers.

To meet last year’s winners, go to

Face of Diversity Award

The Faces of Diversity Award recognizes the diversity of the restaurant industry and the role it plays in helping individuals achieve “the American Dream.” Three individuals, who through hard work and determination have realized their dreams, are selected each year as the national winners. A $2,500 ProStart scholarship is presented it the name of each winner.

The three award winners in 2011 each represent the diversity of the nation and the countless number of ways individuals have found rewarding careers in food & beverage service and hospitality, including: two Ethiopian sisters who fled their war-torn country to eventually own their own restaurant in New Jersey; a McDonald’s franchisee who grew up poor in Del Rio, Texas and through hard work and determination is now the largest Hispanic franchisee in the company; and a woman from Thailand who came to the United States with nothing and is now the executive chef of a restaurant in Delaware.

To meet last year’s winners, go to


Restaurants may apply on their own behalf. Operators, employees, patrons and other members of the community may work with a local restaurant to apply for the award. Winners of the awards will be honored in April 2012 at a gala awards dinner during the National Restaurant Association’s Public Affairs Conference.

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