Voters online choose staff for their beloved local restaurant

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

Central Valley residents took the stage and named their favorite servers, cooks and managers at the recent restaurant industry appreciation party.

The Fresno Chapter of the California Restaurant Association hosted the event celebrating local restaurant industry workers on 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 various workers in Fresno County.

A Restaurant Association social media campaign encouraged the public to name their favorite servers, bartenders, managers, cooks and more.

Falina Marihart, chief financial officer and co-owner of 13 Prime Steak in Clovis, and chair of the event, said she received more than 200 nominations. They narrowed down the names to five in each of 13 categories and online voting began.

And the winners are:

Preferred server: Travis Campbell – Colton Social House

Favorite bartender: Pat Vieira – Harris Ranch Inn & Restaurant

Favorites manager: Bryan Jacobsen – Dog Grill

Favorite host/hostess: Ashley Gardener – The Point Patio Bar & Bistro

Favorite chain cook: Teresa James – Harris Ranch Inn & Restaurant

Favorite Assistant Manager: Matt Franco – Pismo Coastal Grill

Favorite Stewart (dishwasher): Trevor Valenzuela – Colton Social House

Favorite Back Waiter/ Busser: Luke Shepherd – Five Restaurant

Favorite cook: Justin Shannon – Legacy

Integrity: Christian Santana – 13 premium steaks

Positive attitude: Lindsay Unruh – Namikaze

Cheerleader / Spirit: Nick Espiritu – Colton Social House

Public Service: Brandon Harris – 13 premium steaks

The Restaurant Association also hosts the Best of the Valley awards, which normally take place in January. Marihart said Covid restrictions had put the event in the air, so they decided to hold the outdoor event celebrating restaurant workers this year.

“The ARC is hosting the Best of the Valley event which focuses on the restaurant owner, we wanted to do something in recognition of the employees and people who have helped us stay open during the pandemic,” Marihart said. .

They are still determining if they will host the Appreciation Bash again next year, but they expect next year’s Best of the Valley awards to return in the first quarter of 2023.

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