METAIRIE – The Louisiana Restaurant Association announced its 2022 Industry Awards, including the Restaurateurs of the Year. Also, five LRA members were inducted into the group’s Hall of Fame. The Associate Member of the Year award recognizes an industry supplier that is committed to improving the association and industry. The LRA Advocates of the Year award recognizes elected officials or individuals who’ve engaged in legislation, regulation or policy efforts to create a better operating environment for LRA members. The LRA Awards Dinner took place on Monday, Nov. 7 at Juban’s Restaurant in Baton Rouge.
The Restaurateurs of the Year* are Emery Whalen and Chef Brian Landry of QED Hospitality. The two own the food and beverage management company, which operates in boutique hotels such as the Pontchartrain Hotel in New Orleans. Among the local establishments are Jack Rose Restaurant, the Bayou Bar, the Hot Tin Bar and the Silver Whistle Café. In Nashville at the Thompson Hotel, they operate LA Jackson, the Marsh House and Kilbrew. Most recently, they open The Kitchen Table at the James B. Beam Distilling Co. in Clermont, Kentucky and have plans to expand the food and beverage concepts on the eighth-generation distillery’s campus.
“To be recognized by the LRA for what we’ve accomplished with our company and partnership, is truly an honor,” said Whalen, CEO of QED Hospitality. “It makes us work harder to serve the industry and our amazing team. The last two years have been particularly challenging and it’s been the LRA advocating and providing the necessary information that helped us through the pandemic.”
A new award was created this year—LRA ICON. This award recognizes an establishment that has truly encapsulated the spirit of hospitality. Dating to the days of prohibition and still serving their famed Hurricane cocktail every day, Pat O’Brien’s was named the first LRA ICON. Shelly Waguespack, third generation owner accepted the award.
Five industry leaders were inducted into the LRA’s Hall of Fame. Cindy Brennan Davis and Randy Stein of Mr. B’s Bistro in the French Quarter, who own and manage the restaurant respectively have been operating for over forty years in the challenging New Orleans French Quarter. Additionally, long-term Mr. B’s Executive Chef, the late Michelle McRaney who worked with Davis and Stein for 25 years is also inducted into the Hall of Fame.
Also inducted was Chef Susan Spicer, who currently owns Rosedale Restaurant in Mid-City New Orleans. For decades, Chef Spicer has served her unique culinary style at her restaurants Bayona in the French Quarter, Rosedale in Mid City and Mondo in the Louis Armstrong International Airport. During her lengthy career she has mentored and trained numerous new chefs and culinary talent encouraging them to launch their own operations to fulfill their dreams.
Finally, Frank Randol of the former Randol’s Restaurant in Lafayette was inducted into the Hall of Fame. A former LRA State Director, for 50 years, Randol’s Restaurant was known worldwide for its cuisine and their dancehall that featured live zydeco music seven nights a week. Mr. Randol had been an active advocate on behalf of the Louisiana seafood and crawfish industry, and traveled the world promoting the Cajun culture of the Acadiana region helping to build Lafayette as its own destination for visitors.
The Associate Member of the Year is the Jason Jones, Region Vice President of Sales for Sysco. As an industry partner, Jones serves on the LRA Board of Directors and is the 2023 Chair-Elect of the LRA Education Foundation.
The Advocates of the Year are the Honorable Patrick Page Cortez, Senate President and the Honorable Clay Schexnayder, Speaker of the House. These two legislators have worked together to lead the two bodies – the Senate and the House – in a measured and thoughtful way to accomplish budgetary decisions that recognize the importance of the tourism and restaurant industries.
“The great thing about working with Page and Clay is that they have both worked in the restaurant industry,” said Stan Harris, LRA President and CEO. “Page was a fine dining server who worked his way through college and Clay started out in his teens as a busboy and kitchen assistant to the chef. It certainly makes a difference when the leadership can relate to the LRA members.”