2018

Industry News
, IRA Press Information
, Press Release
/
December 28, 2018

Shayna Watts, Assistant Manager at Fresh Mediterranean Express Receives State Award for Going Above and Beyond for her Company

POST DETAILS
DATE
December 28, 2018
AUTHOR

Des Moines, IA- Oct 11 – On Monday October 8th, Shayna Watts, assistant manager at Fresh Mediterranean Express, was awarded the 2018 Restaurant Employee of the Year Award by the Iowa Restaurant Association for her passion and commitment to Fresh Mediterranean Express. Watts was presented the award at a ceremony in Des Moines by the Incoming Chairman of the National Restaurant Association Board of Directors Joe Essa of Wolfgang Puck Worldwide and the Current Chairman of the Iowa Restaurant Association Board of Directors Darin Beck of Barmuda Companies.

The restaurant industry has always been a “happy place” for Watts. She remembers being 5-years-old and accompanying her step-father to the Sonic Drive-in he managed in Texas. Watts recalls feeling that everyone truly wanted to be helpful and that taking care of customers was the top priority.

That commitment to customer care stuck with Shayna, who took that same positive attitude with her to work in restaurants in Texas, Arizona, and finally Iowa restaurants.  In 2014, Shayna started with Fresh Mediterranean Express in Waukee.  She was quickly promoted to Team Lead and then to Assistant Manager. According to owner Hassan Atarmal, Watts is an integral part of the restaurant’s success and is always going above and beyond what it expected.

Watts is a natural leader and is always challenging co-workers to be the best they can be. Even the restaurants’ owners credit her from pushing them to improve and seek new ways to positively impact the restaurant’s success.

A video showcasing Watts can be found at www.restaurantiowa.com.

Iowa Restaurant Association

The Iowa Restaurant Association is an advocacy organization supporting Iowa’s restaurant and bar industry with educational and promotional programs across the state.

Media Contact:

Josephine Jensen

Public Relations Specialist

jjensen@restaurantiowa.com

319-464-0766

Industry News
, IRA Press Information
, Press Release
/
December 28, 2018

Cedar Rapids Teacher Wins Statewide Award

POST DETAILS
DATE
December 28, 2018
AUTHOR

Des Moines, IA- Oct 11 – On Monday October 8th, Joan Stekl, a family and consumer sciences teacher at Cedar Rapids Washington High School, was awarded the 2018 ProStart Educator of Excellence Award by the Iowa Restaurant Association Education Foundation. Stekl was presented the award at a ceremony in Des Moines by the Incoming Chairman of the National Restaurant Association Board of Directors Joe Essa of Wolfgang Puck Worldwide and the Current Chairman of the Iowa Restaurant Association Board of Directors Darin Beck of Barmuda Companies.

ProStart is a career and technical education program which offers students four semesters of restaurant management and culinary arts education.  Students must complete a 400 hour internship, exhibit competency in more than 60 culinary techniques, and take two standard exams to earn their ProStart Certificate.  With that certificate they can receive up to 15 hours credit at many culinary schools across the state.

Stekl helped introduce the ProStart program to the Cedar Rapids school district.  She uses traditional classroom teaching methods but has also secured other unique hands on culinary experiences for her students with major foodservice distributors and award-winning chefs. Her students have collaborated with a Cedar Rapids chef to prepare the hors d’oeuvres at fundraising events, attended professional development seminars and competed in state competitions.

A video showcasing Stekl can be found at www.restaurantiowa.com.

Iowa Restaurant Association

The Iowa Restaurant Association is an advocacy organization supporting Iowa’s restaurant and bar industry with educational and promotional programs across the state.

Media Contact:

Josephine Jensen

Public Relations Specialist

jjensen@restaurantiowa.com

319-464-0766

Industry News
, IRA Press Information
, Press Release
/
December 28, 2018

Big Grove Executive Chef Named Iowa Restaurant Association Restaurateur of the Year

POST DETAILS
DATE
December 28, 2018
AUTHOR

Des Moines, IA- Oct 10 – On Monday October 10th, Chef Benjamin Smart, Executive Chef and Partner at Big Grover Brewery, Pullman Bar & Diner and St. Burch Tavern, in Iowa City was awarded the 2018 Restaurateur of the Year Award by the Iowa Restaurant Association.  Smart was nominated by a customer and chosen for his commitment and dedication to the restaurant community in Eastern Iowa. He was presented the award at a ceremony in Des Moines by the Incoming Chairman of the National Restaurant Association Board of Directors Joe Essa of Wolfgang Puck Worldwide and the Current Chairman of the Iowa Restaurant Association Board of Directors Darin Beck of Barmuda Companies.

Smart always knew he was not cut out for a desk job. He earned his geoscience degree from University of Iowa with that thought in mind. From the time he was a child, he loved cooking and had a fascination with the chefs on television, specifically the program “Great Chefs, Great Cities” on PBS.

Smart couldn’t deny his draw to the restaurant industry. One night when he was out with his wife she told Smart that he was not stuck on one path and encouraged him to go cook. This was the nudge he needed to truly start his journey down the culinary path

The Iowa City native earned his culinary degree from Kirkwood in Cedar Rapids. He worked in several local restaurants—meeting many of his future business partners. He spent time in Kansas City working with James Beard winning, Chef Celina Tio, in the fine dining American Restaurant.

In 2013 he received a call from Big Grove partner Doug Goettsch that brought him back to Iowa. Goetsch wanted an Iowa chef to open the Solon restaurant. Smart made the leap and helped establish the small-town brew pub as a culinary destination. Even as an owner, Chef Smart is never far from a kitchen and continues to hone his craft and encourages his team to do the same.

A video showcasing Smart can be found at www.restaurantiowa.com.

Iowa Restaurant Association

The Iowa Restaurant Association is an advocacy organization supporting Iowa’s restaurant and bar industry with educational and promotional programs across the state.

Media Contact:

Josephine Jensen

Public Relations Specialist

jjensen@restaurantiowa.com

319-464-0766

Industry News
, IRA Press Information
, Press Release
/
December 28, 2018

Hemispheres Bistro Owner Chef Aman Razdan Receives American Dream Award from Iowa Restaurant Association

POST DETAILS
DATE
December 28, 2018
AUTHOR

Des Moines, IA- Oct 10 – On Monday October 10th, Chef Aman Razdan, Owner of Hemispheres Bistro, was awarded the 2018 American Dream Award by the Iowa Restaurant Association for pursuing and achieving his dream to own a restaurant. Razdan was presented the award at a ceremony in Des Moines by the Incoming Chairman of the National Restaurant Association Board of Directors Joe Essa of Wolfgang Puck Worldwide and the Current Chairman of the Iowa Restaurant Association Board of Directors Darin Beck of Barmuda Companies.

When Chef Aman Razdan arrived in the United States on a wintery day in 1998.  He arrived to a snowy Chicago landscape, he knew instantly that this was a place where he could write his own story and could do anything.

“Anything” for Aman was the dream of owning his own restaurant.  He had worked in every non-cooking role—from dishwasher to general manager– in his family’s restaurants in Mumbai, India as a teenager and young man.  He understood well that central to his hopes for success in a new country and culture was learning the culinary side of the restaurant business.

He enrolled in the culinary arts program at Scott Community College and landed a position at Le Figaro in Rock Island. Always looking for ways to do more, and learn more, he took culinary positions at several commercial kitchens, as well as restaurants such as the Red Crow Grille in Bettendorf.   In 2015, Aman was in a position to buy the restaurant which he then rebranded Hemispheres Bistro. Hemispheres Bistrohas a staff of two dozen and seats 110 people. It is a global fusion concept with a Middle Eastern, Mediterranean and Latin flair with French finishing’s with the mission to offer a global cuisine.

A video showcasing Razdan can be found at www.restaurantiowa.com.

Iowa Restaurant Association

The Iowa Restaurant Association is an advocacy organization supporting Iowa’s restaurant and bar industry with educational and promotional programs across the state.

Media Contact:

Josephine Jensen

Public Relations Specialist

jjensen@restaurantiowa.com

319-464-0766

 

Industry Blog
, IRA Press Information
, Press Release
/
December 28, 2018

Owner of Go Fish Marina Bar & Grill Krista Kay Receives State Award for Her Grassroots Legislative Efforts

POST DETAILS
DATE
December 28, 2018
AUTHOR

Des Moines, IA- Oct 11 – On Monday October 8th, Krista Kay, Owner of Go Fish Marina Bar & Grill was awarded the 2018 Industry Champion of the Year Award by the Iowa Restaurant Association for her passion and willingness to speak up to help pass Iowa’s DRAM laws. Kay was presented the award at a ceremony in Des Moines by the Incoming Chairman of the National Restaurant Association Board of Directors Joe Essa of Wolfgang Puck Worldwide and the Current Chairman of the Iowa Restaurant Association Board of Directors Darin Beck of Barmuda Companies.

Kay is a firm believer in the power of showing up, particularly when it comes to getting changes made by the state legislature.  Over the past two years, she has made many trips to Des Moines to meet with legislators to help pass changes to Iowa’s DRAM laws.

In addition, Kay engaged other eastern Iowa operators in the efforts to bring about reform. She joined the Iowa Restaurant Association Board of Directors and hosted a legislative forum in her establishment, inviting Democratic and Republican legislators, as well as other business owners.

“Kris Kay is one of the strongest advocates hospitality operators, particularly those along the borders, have ever had,” said Jessica Dunker, president and CEO of the Iowa Restaurant Association.  “We would have struggled to pass significant reform this year without her. She truly is a champion for the hospitality industry.”

A video showcasing Kay can be found at www.restaurantiowa.com.

Iowa Restaurant Association

The Iowa Restaurant Association is an advocacy organization supporting Iowa’s restaurant and bar industry with educational and promotional programs across the state.

Media Contact:

Josephine Jensen

Public Relations Specialist

jjensen@restaurantiowa.com or 319-464-0766

Industry News
, IRA Press Information
, Press Release
/
December 28, 2018

Osage Restaurant Owner Receives State Honor for Philanthropic Work

POST DETAILS
DATE
December 28, 2018
AUTHOR

Des Moines, IA- Oct. 9 – Last night Jessica Baldus, Owner of Taste by Unc’s Cheesecakes in Osage, was awarded the 2018 Small Community Restaurant Neighbor Philanthropy Award by the Iowa Restaurant Association for her support of children’s programs in her community. She was presented the award at a ceremony in Des Moines by the Incoming Chairman of the National Restaurant Association Board of Directors Joe Essa of Wolfgang Puck Worldwide and the Current Chairman of the Iowa Restaurant Association Board of Directors Darin Beck of Barmuda Companies.  Baldus’ nomination will now be submitted with winners from all 50 states for national award consideration.

“Ninety percent of restaurants and bars give time and money to their local communities,” said Jessica Dunker, president and CEO of the Iowa Restaurant Association, who hosted the Awards Ceremony.  “Jessica Baldus exemplifies the type of impact one hospitality establishment can make on an entire community.”

Always an entrepreneur, Baldus got her start making desserts for Des Moines area restaurants while she studiedentrepreneurshipat DMACC in Ankeny. Before long, her company had grown to the point where she could make it her full time job. She opted to move back to her hometown of Osage and open a brick and mortar restaurant called Taste by Unc’s Cheesecakes.

Baldus quickly decided to focus her philanthropic efforts on the Accelerated Reading Program at Osage Lincoln Elementary School as well as the Bridges Mentoring Program.

The Accelerated Reading Program is used by teachers at Lincoln Elementary as a way of promoting reading to students by offering incentives for reading a certain number of books. Jessica donates tasty treats as an incentive for the students. The Bridges Mentoring program pairs children with mentors in the county and Jessica donates her time and food for their events as well.

A video showcasing Baldus and her philanthropic work can be found at www.restaurantiowa.com.

Iowa Restaurant Association

The Iowa Restaurant Association is an advocacy organization supporting Iowa’s restaurant and bar industry with educational and promotional programs across the state.

Media Contact:

Josephine Jensen

Public Relations Specialist

jjensen@restaurantiowa.com

319-464-0766

 

Industry News
, IRA Press Information
, Press Release
/
December 28, 2018

Holly Hintz, Chef/Manager of Créme Cupcake + Dessert Receives State Award for her Passion and Commitment to Créme and the Community

POST DETAILS
DATE
December 28, 2018
AUTHOR

Des Moines, IA- Oct 11 – On Monday October 8th, Holly Hintz, manager and chef of Créme Cupcake +Dessert, was awarded the 2018 Emerging Hospitality Leader Award by the Iowa Restaurant Association for her passion and commitment to Créme and the Des Moines Community. Hintz was presented the award at a ceremony in Des Moines by the Incoming Chairman of the National Restaurant Association Board of Directors Joe Essa of Wolfgang Puck Worldwide and the Current Chairman of the Iowa Restaurant Association Board of Directors Darin Beck of Barmuda Companies.

From the days of her first job as a Soda Jerk at Stella’s Blue-Sky Diner, Hintz knew that she wanted to pursue a culinary career. She received a degree in Baking and Pastry at the prestigious Culinary Institute of America in New York and then worked in a several East Coast boutique hotels before returning to Des Moines.

She had always loved bakery and pastry work and worked in several local establishments. In 2011, while organizing a fundraiser to help Tsunami Victims, she met Christina Moffatt, owner of Crème Cupcake. The two had an instant connection with a shared passion for both gourmet baked goods and helping others.

Hintz soon became a key member of the Crème Cupcake team and was instrumental in helping take the now iconic Des Moines bakery from a tiny catering operation to the standard-bearer dessert lounge it is today. As the General Manager at Crème Cupcake, Hintz not only leads daily operations, but also donates her time to help a variety of non-profit organizations including 4H, Winefest, and BRAVO.  Everyone who works with her is always struck by Hintz’s positive outlook, willingness to roll up her sleeves and pitch in, and do anything, natural leadership skills and creativity

A video showcasing Hintz can be found at www.restaurantiowa.com.

Iowa Restaurant Association

The Iowa Restaurant Association is an advocacy organization supporting Iowa’s restaurant and bar industry with educational and promotional programs across the state.

Media Contact:

Josephine Jensen

Public Relations Specialist

jjensen@restaurantiowa.com

319-464-0766

Industry News
, IRA Press Information
, Press Release
/
December 28, 2018

Gusto Receives State Honor for Philanthropic Work in the Des Moines Area

POST DETAILS
DATE
December 28, 2018
AUTHOR

Des Moines, IA- Oct 11 – On Monday October 8th, Gusto Owners Joe McConville, Josh Holderness and Tony Lemmo, were awarded the 2018 Large Community Restaurant Neighbor Philanthropy Award by the Iowa Restaurant Association for their support of JOPPA and their efforts to combat hunger in Des Moines. Holdneress and Lemmo were presented the award at a ceremony in Des Moines by the Incoming Chairman of the National Restaurant Association Board of Directors Joe Essa of Wolfgang Puck Worldwide and the Current Chairman of the Iowa Restaurant Association Board of Directors Darin Beck of Barmuda Companies.

JOPPA is an organization which strives to alleviate hunger and help the homeless of Central Iowa in any way possible.

“Ninety percent of restaurants and bars give time and money to their local communities,” said Jessica Dunker, president and CEO of the Iowa Restaurant Association, who hosted the Awards Ceremony.  “The owners of Gusto exemplify the type of impact one hospitality establishment can make on an entire community.”

On the 4thSunday of the month– no matter if it’s Christmas Day or the Super Bowl –

you will find the owners out delivering 125 to 150 hot meals to the homeless.Beyond the monthly meal program, Gusto holds an annual “Take a Slice out of Hunger” Golf Outing, that last year yielded $30K in donations and looks to continue to grow each year.

Joe, Josh and Tony put countless hours into helping out JOPPA anyway they can.  They are all motivated by an inherent sense that those who have, should help those who do not. It is an ideology all three have always believed in and done their best to live by.

A video showcasing Gusto can be found at www.restaurantiowa.com.

Iowa Restaurant Association

The Iowa Restaurant Association is an advocacy organization supporting Iowa’s restaurant and bar industry with educational and promotional programs across the state.

Media Contact:

Josephine Jensen

Public Relations Specialist

jjensen@restaurantiowa.com

319-464-0766

Industry News
, IRA Press Information
, Press Release
/
December 28, 2018

Linda Funk of The Soyfoods Council Receives State Food Industry Award

POST DETAILS
DATE
December 28, 2018
AUTHOR

Des Moines, IA- Oct 11 – On Monday October 8th, Linda Funk, Executive Director for The Soyfoods Council, was awarded the 2018 Purveyor of the Year Award by the Iowa Restaurant Association. Funk was presented the award at a ceremony in Des Moines by the Incoming Chairman of the National Restaurant Association Board of Directors Joe Essa of Wolfgang Puck Worldwide and the Current Chairman of the Iowa Restaurant Association Board of Directors Darin Beck of Barmuda Companies.

Funk was chosen by the Iowa Restaurant Association Board of Directors for her commitment to Iowa’s food industry.  The selection committee pointed to her dedication to helping chefs and restaurant professionals better understand the role soy products can play on menus and in commercial kitchens as a key reason for her selection.  Funk has been instrumental in establishing collaborative culinary competitions, soy oil seminars and other educational opportunities to help professional chefs and culinary students better understand soy.

Of special note are: the annual Professional Chefs Soy Salad Dressing Competition featuring soft-silken tofu; a beef entrée with soy side culinary competition co-sponsored with the Iowa Beef Industry Council and Iowa Restaurant Association; and a series of high-oleic oil educational seminars presented across the state.

“Lind Funk has been one of the most influential and effective partners the Iowa Restaurant Association has ever worked with,” said Jessica Dunker, president and CEO of the Iowa Restaurant Association. “She has truly helped open the eyes of professional and aspiring chefs to the possibilities of plant proteins on menus, as well as the advantages of high-oleic oils in commercial fryers.”

A video showcasing Funk can be found at www.restaurantiowa.com.

Iowa Restaurant Association

The Iowa Restaurant Association is an advocacy organization supporting Iowa’s restaurant and bar industry with educational and promotional programs across the state.

Media Contact:

Josephine Jensen

Public Relations Specialist

jjensen@restaurantiowa.com

319-464-0766

Industry News
, IRA Press Information
, Press Release
/
December 28, 2018

Representative Brian Best Receives Iowa Restaurant Association Legislator of the Year Award

POST DETAILS
DATE
December 28, 2018
AUTHOR

Des Moines, IA- Oct 10 – On Monday October 10th, Representative Brian Best of Iowa’s 12thDistrict was awarded the 2018 Legislator of the Year Award by the Iowa Restaurant Association for his willingness to advocate for Iowa’s Restaurant Industry. Best was presented the award at a ceremony in Des Moines by the Incoming Chairman of the National Restaurant Association Board of Directors Joe Essa of Wolfgang Puck Worldwide and the Current Chairman of the Iowa Restaurant Association Board of Directors Darin Beck of Barmuda Companies.

Representative Brian Best took a lead role on an extremely difficult issue last legislative session—DRAM (liquor liability insurance) reform.  Believing that strong main streets are key to survival of rural communities, Best knew that there had to be changes made to make it possible for main street operators to get reasonably priced insurance.

Best sponsored and floor led a DRAM reform bill that he and others hoped would accomplish that goal.  Best had the added benefit of special insight on the challenges facing restaurant and tavern operators because his step-daughter Amy and her husband Andy Walsh own Mickey’s Irish Pub in Waukee.

The final bill did bring several significant changes to Iowa law including shifting more personal responsibility to consumers and creating a defensible standard for alcohol servers and business owners. Best was pleased that the bill also increased potential consumer protections by requiring per person, rather than per incident, minimums.

A video showcasing Best can be found at www.restaurantiowa.com.

Iowa Restaurant Association

The Iowa Restaurant Association is an advocacy organization supporting Iowa’s restaurant and bar industry with educational and promotional programs across the state.

Media Contact:

Josephine Jensen,

Public Relations Specialist

jjensen@restaurantiowa.com

319-464-0766