Award Winners

Carrie Douglas

For More Information, Contact:

Carrie Douglas | Member Engagement Manager

Wisconsin Restaurant Association Regional Awards

In 2019, the Wisconsin Restaurant Association created a new awards program to honor restaurant industry professionals around the state. Individuals are able to nominate themselves or may be nominated by a peer or customer.  

Three finalists from each category and in each of the five regions in the state are chosen by popular vote using an online ballot. A selection committee determines the regional winners (one in each award category from each of the five regions).

There are two regional award categories: Champion of Restaurant Entrepreneurship (CORE) and Best of the House: Front of the House and Back of the House.

Awards Wisconsin Regions Map

Award Winners

Champion of Restaurant Entrepreneurship (CORE)

An owner/operator will be recognized for their contributions to Wisconsin’s restaurant industry in the following areas: demonstrated passion for and success in their business, committed community involvement and support of WRA through membership. Nominees should show strong leadership skills, business acumen, a knack for moving the industry forward as innovators and be well-respected employers.

2020 Winners:

  • Region 1: Phillip Wanke – Burger Fusion Company, La Crosse
  • Region 2: Bill Tressler – Hinterland Brewing Company, Green Bay 
  • Region 3: Jim and Gwen Seeboth – Seeboth Delicatessen, Sheboygan 
  • Region 4: Christine Specht – Cousins Subs, Milwaukee
  • Region 5: Tom Anderson – Buck & Honey’s Restaurant Group, Monona

2019 Winners: 

  • Region 2:  Heather & Marcel Biró – Black Forest Pub & Grill, Three Lakes
  • Region 3:  James Seeboth – Seeboth Delicatessen, Sheboygan
  • Region 4:  Michael Holz – Brunch, Milwaukee and Brookfield 
  • Region 5:  José García – Hubbard Avenue Diner, Middleton
Awards Wisconsin Regions Map

Award Winners

Best of the House—Front of the House (FOH)

Nominees in these categories should be inspiring examples of employees who demonstrate professionalism in their jobs and help to further the positive image of the foodservice industry in Wisconsin.

Eligible employees include staff who have regular contact with customers. The award recognizes front of the house staff who exhibit outstanding customer service, strong work ethic, leadership skills and have earned the respect of their colleagues and employer.

2020 Winners:

  • Region 1: Sherry Muller-Flory – Trempealeau Hotel, Restaurant & Saloon, Trempealeau 
  • Region 2: Penny Fairchild – The Blue Bayou Inn Restaurant, Manitowish Waters 
  • Region 3: Tera Castillo – Seeboth Delicatessen, Sheboygan 
  • Region 4: Zachary Heiniger – Brunch, Milwaukee 
  • Region 5: Eric Sasse – Parthenon Gyros, Madison 

2019 Winners:

  • Region 2:  Rachel Gee – Black Forest Pub & Grill, Three Lakes
  • Region 3:  Amanda Mihalic – Culver's of Little Chute, Litte Chute
  • Region 4:  Sarah Ruffert – Potawatomi Hotel and Casino, Milwaukee
  • Region 5:  Ben Brady – Everly & Miko Poke, Madison
Awards Wisconsin Regions Map

Award Winners

Best of the House – Back of the House (BOH)

Nominees in these categories should be inspiring examples of employees who demonstrate professionalism in their jobs and help to further the positive image of the foodservice industry in Wisconsin.

Eligible employees include staff from the back of the house. The award recognizes staff who exhibit attention to detail, calm under pressure, strong work ethic and leadership skills.

2020 Winners:

  • Region 1: Lauren Peterson-Green – Draganetti’s Ristorante & Za51 Pizzeria, Eau Claire 
  • Region 3: Fred Griesbach – Cooking World Culinary Services, Stevens Point 
  • Region 4: Joe Schreiter – Mistral & Avalon Atmospheric Theater, Milwaukee 
  • Region 5: Jesse Stiff – Mariner’s Inn/Betty Lou Cruises, Madison 

2019 Winners:  

  • Region 1:  Alex Slimak –  Za 51 & Draganetti’s Ristorante, Altoona
  • Region 2:  Matthew Mazur – The Blue Bayou Inn Restaurant, Manitowish Waters
  • Region 3:  Geddy Nordby – DeO’s Pizzeria & Pub, Plymouth 
  • Region 4:  John Moosreiner – Golden Mast Inn, Okauchee
  • Region 5:  Chris Myers – Cento Ristorante, Madison

Congratulations to the state finalists from Wisconsin for the National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation awards programs.   

Faces of Diversity – American Dream Award

  • Rose Hunt - Heckel's Family Restaurants,  Chippewa Falls
  • Derek Small - Troop Cafe, Milwaukee

Restaurant Neighbor Award

  • Culver’s of Darboy/Culver’s of Little Chute, Appleton
  • Black Shoe Hospitality, Milwaukee
  • Water Street Brewery, Milwaukee
  • Black Forest Pub & Grille, Three Lakes
  • The Bay, Whitefish Bay


Wisconsin Restaurant Association

Restaurateur of the Year (ROY) Past Winners

2020    Charlie Gray

2019    Susie Patterson

2018    Chico Pope

2017    Mark & Jean Landreman

2016    Mary Rowley                          

2015    Lynn McDonough                   

2014    Trey Hester                

2013    Steve Schilling            

2012    Craig & Lea Culver                 

2011    Bill von Rutenberg                  

2010    Mark Dougherty                     

2009    Dick Rudin                              

2008    Steve Davis                             

2007   Tom & Lynn Saxe                    

2006    Linda Wendt                           

2005    Paul Cunningham                   

2004    Tom & Kiki Warren                

2003    Gary Anderson

2002    Joe De Rosa    

2001    Steve Allen                             

2000    Dale Leffel                              

1999    Bruce Wolf                             

1998    Jeff Steren                              

1997    Ron Slaght                              

1996    Dick Kroening                     

1995    Mike Pitzo                 

1994    Bernard Kurzawa             

1993    Bob Chuck                   

1992    Alfred Peck               

1991    John Kavanaugh                   

1990    Karl Van Roy                

1989    Rollin Natter               

1988    Ron Heuser                  

1987    Fred Krautkramer  

1986    Chuck & Carol Roherty           

1985    John "Butch" Arps                

1984    Don Zarder                  

1983    James Speth                          

1982    Henry Anderson                   

1981    Louis Bemis                 

1980    George Pandl                        

1979    Dale Rudy                 

1978    Heinz Fischer               

1977    Bernard Schreiner                

1976    Karl Ratzsch                

1975    Cosmos Hoffman                  

1974    Joe LoCicero                         

1973    John Von Gnechten           

1972    Lyle Poole