GA Restaurant Neighbor Award Winners Announced For Excellence In Community Engagement

Atlanta – Georgia Restaurant Association announced the state winners of the acclaimed National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation’s (NRAEF) Restaurant Neighbor Award. The national winners – chosen in early February from state awardees by a panel of restaurant and foodservice industry leaders from across the country – will be honored at a restaurant and foodservice industry gala awards ceremony in Washington, D.C. on April 14, 2015.

The Restaurant Neighbor Award, developed in partnership with American Express, celebrates the outstanding charitable service performed by restaurant operators throughout the U.S. Created 17 years ago, this award recognizes the impact restaurants and entrepreneurs have made on their local communities.

The 2015 Restaurant Neighbor Award winners from Georgia are:

  • Here To Serve Restaurants – An Atlanta based company, Here to Serve Restaurants does their part in giving back to the city and its foundations by running promotions in all 13 of their restaurants to donate a percentage of proceeds to multiple charities. Here To Serve Restaurants is involved with various organizations including: The Atlanta Community Food Bank, Atlanta Humane Society, Camp Twin Lakes, Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, Free To Breathe, GivingPoint, It's The Journey, Inc., Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, Lupus Foundation, Make-A-Wish Foundation, Project Open Hand, Rally Foundation for Childhood Cancer Research and the Simon Youth Foundation.
  • Norsan Group Restaurants – The philosophy of Norsan Group Restaurants is to give back and help the communities that they are part of, which is evident through the involvement of their restaurants Frontera Mex-Mex Grill, Luciano's Ristorante Italiano and Pampas Steakhouse. Pampas Steakhouse and Luciano's Ristorante Italiano have aided and sponsored various events to help numerous organizations such as the Atlanta Community Food Bank, the Georgia Aquarium and other local organizations. Meanwhile, Frontera Mex-Mex Grill aids organizations that range from schools, religious associations, girls/boy scouts groups and more.
  • Ray's on the River – For over 15 years, Ray's on the River has partnered with the Fragile Kids Foundation, a nonprofit organization that “was formed to assist those families in need of aid to care effectively for medically fragile children.” Ray's on the River hosts two annual events for Fragile Kids Foundation, a golf tournament and breakfast with Santa, where families who benefit from the services of the Foundation come to the restaurant to enjoy brunch and a visit with Santa.
  • Sterling Spoon Culinary Management and Marlow's Tavern – For over 16 years, Sterling Spoon Culinary Management and Marlow’s Tavern have partnered with Special Olympics Georgia (SOGA), which “provides year-round sports training and athletic competition for children and adults with intellectual disabilities.” Each year, Sterling Spoon Culinary Management and Marlow’s Tavern host an annual golf tournament to benefit the organization. In addition to the golf tournament, Marlow's Tavern raises money for SOGA at the opening of each new location.
  • Tin Lizzy's Cantina – Tin Lizzy's Cantina is committed to giving back to each of the neighborhoods they serve by working with local nonprofits in their community. Their top projects include: Donating $1 from each taco sold on National Taco Day to Bert's Big Adventure as well as donating to It’s The Journey, Inc. Additional partners of Tin Lizzy's Cantina include: Chattahoochee Riverkeeper, Children's Healthcare of Atlanta, Habitat for Humanity, Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, Sunshine on a Ranney Day and more.
  • Unsukay Community of Businesses – Unsukay Community of Businesses is involved with numerous nonprofits and causes throughout Atlanta. In 2014 alone, Unsukay has participated in over 130 various nonprofit or charity events via direct involvement or in-kind donations of food and beverage. Most of Unsukay’s focus on giving back to the community is through The Giving Kitchen, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit cofounded by Ryan Turner, Chris Hall and Todd Mussman, whose mission is to provide crisis grants to members of Atlanta’s hospitality community facing unanticipated hardship.
  • Zaxby's – While each of the 650 Zaxby’s franchise locations contributes to their local community a little differently – volunteering, hosting fundraiser nights, or sponsoring local teams – youth have always been at the center. In 2011, Zaxby’s partnered with the Make-A-Wish Foundation to help grant the wishes of children with life-threatening medical illnesses. Additionally, Zaxby’s has partnered with Always Play 4 Each Other (APIVEO) as well as Downtown Academy in Athens, Ga.

“Each year, the Georgia Restaurant Association, in partnership with the National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation, recognizes people and businesses who exemplify the good work and great achievements that are possible in the restaurant industry,” said GRA Executive Director Karen Bremer. “This year’s winners showcase the philanthropic and entrepreneurial spirit unique to Georgia’s robust restaurant community – one that gives back in communities each and every day.”

One Restaurant Neighbor Award winner will be named the coveted Cornerstone Humanitarian for exemplary philanthropic commitment. The NRAEF awards program also includes the Faces of Diversity American Dream Award, sponsored by PepsiCo Foodservice, and the Thad and Alice Eure Ambassador of Hospitality Award.

“The NRAEF’s awards program honors the many ways restaurants support and enrich America’s communities,” said Rob Gifford, executive vice president strategic operations and philanthropy, National Restaurant Association and National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation. “From the unlimited opportunity for people of all backgrounds to find success, to the countless ways in which restaurants invest in their communities, the awards help elevate the stories of impact that define our industry.”

For a complete list of the 2014 state and national winners, please visit

For media inquiries, contact GRA Manager of Marketing and Communications Rachel Bell at (404) 467-9000 or

About the Georgia Restaurant Association
The GRA’s mission is to serve as the voice for Georgia’s restaurants in advocacy, education and awareness. The GRA is sanctioned by the National Restaurant Association to operate Georgia’s only not-for-profit representing the state’s foodservice industry. The GRA serves as the unified voice for over 16,000 foodservice and drinking places in the state of Georgia with total sales in excess of $16.5 billion which provides more than 405,800 jobs. From large chains to start-ups, the GRA helps make Georgia a better place for restaurants to do business and helps make restaurants better for Georgia.

About the National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation:
As the philanthropic foundation of the National Restaurant Association, the NRAEF exists to enhance the restaurant industry’s service to the public through education, community engagement and promotion of career opportunities. The NRAEF works to attract, develop and retain a career-oriented professional workforce for the restaurant industry. The restaurant and foodservice industry comprises 980,000 restaurant and foodservice outlets and a workforce of more than 13 million employees, making it one of the nation's largest employers. For more information on the NRAEF, visit

Source: Georgia Restaurant Association