Spokane Chapter Recognizes the Best in Local Hospitality Industry



For Immediate Release


Wendy Hughes- Local Communications Manager

Washington Hospitality Association



Spokane Chapter Recognizes the Best in Local Hospitality Industry

SPOKANE- More than 140 hospitality professionals gathered together to recognize some of the top employees and owners in the Spokane region. On Jan. 24, eight awards were given for titles varying from Supplier Person of the Year to Fine Dining Restaurant of the Year. These individuals have been commended by their employers for the outstanding experiences they have provided their customers.

In addition to employee recognition, suppliers and restaurants were also recognized for their outstanding service. These businesses provide exemplary service to all customers, and work to make the Spokane hospitality industry thrive.

During the ceremony, a fundraiser took place for ProStart, which is a high school culinary training program that provides young people with the tools necessary to get started in the hospitality industry.

Attendees raised money to send 30 students to the state ProStart competition Feb. 18. Students will compete against other schools from around the state for a chance to go to the national ProStart competition.

Below are the winners of this year’s awards:

Supplier Company of the Year-Food Services of America

Quick Service Restaurant of the Year-Noodle Express

Casual Dining Restaurant of the Year-The Yards Bruncheon

Fine Dining Restaurant of the Year-The Wandering Table

Supplier Person of the Year-Zachary Hawkins, King Beverage

“Every week Zack visits several restaurants and bars in Spokane week in and week out. He has been my sales person for six years, to me that says something about the character of the person – they must love their job!  I appreciate his knowledge of product and what will work in my location and compliment my food. He is well respected by many in the industry – Zack covered a route for a co-worker who was battling cancer so their job would not be replaced with a new sales person and they could return to their routine, at times he was working 10-12 hours a day and he did so without compromising service. He is a strong family man and loves this job.”

Front of the House Employee of the Year-Jennifer Carroll, Azteca Mexican Restaurants

“Jen is a day one employee of 15 years. She is loved by our guests and has a regular clientele, she gets many great comments. Over the years, she has worked up to a key position in which she helps train and develop others in our organization. Jen is the person that will stay late, come in on her day off or cover at a moment’s notice to help out a co-worker. Being a single mom this career has afforded her the ability to balance a family and work. Her laugh is loud and contagious, something we can all use at work!”

Back of the House Employee of the Year-Lexi Davidson, Zona Blanca

“After training for four months she has accomplished what most mid-20’s professional cooks with 6 years of training typically don’t. She not only prepares the ceviche’s to order at Zona Blanca she also preps all the sauces and fish daily at her age she deserves recognition as it’s very rare. There is a certain discipline, drive and passion only found in some of the world’s greatest chefs and she possesses them as well.”

Bartender of the Year-Craig Denney, The Gilded Unicorn

“Craig studies constantly to make sure we are on top of our cocktail game. He creates many new techniques, flavors and always takes the time to use the best ingredients from fresh squeezed juice to house-made syrups and barrel aged cocktails. Relentlessly and insatiably creating new and exciting things.”

The Washington Hospitality Association is the state’s leading hospitality trade group, representing more than 6,000 members of the hotel, restaurant and hospitality industry. Formed in 2016 by a joining of forces of the Washington Restaurant Association and the Washington Lodging Association, the Washington Hospitality Association supports and advocates for restaurateurs, hoteliers and related hospitality industry professionals in the halls of Olympia and communities statewide.

ProStart® is a nationwide, two-year hospitality program that develops culinary techniques and management skills in high school students. ProStart’s® industry-driven curriculum links classroom learning with hands-on experience to develop the best and brightest talent into tomorrow’s restaurant and food service leaders. With support from community-minded industry members, Washington’s ProStart® program reaches more than 1,500 high school students per year.