Denny’s CEO John Miller has been named the year’s best full-service chain executive and Focus Brands Group President Kat Cole has been selected as tops in limited service in the first round of a prestigious competition to identify the number-one operator in foodservice.
Also in the running for the honor is Michael C. Gibbons, CEO of the multi-concept operator Main Street Ventures, who won the Silver Plate for independent restaurants.
The International Foodservice Manufacturers Association also named a Silver Plate winner in four categories of noncommercial or onsite foodservice. Julie Jones was named this year’s top operator in healthcare feeding and Mary Hill was honored as the best in school foodservice. Ed Sirhal, president of Restaurant Associates, won the plate in the Business & Industry/Foodservice Management category, and Nona Golledge finished first in the Colleges & Universities competition.
The seven Silver Plate winners were selected by a jury of past winners and editors from the foodservice media. Restaurant Business Director of Digital Media Peter Romeo participated in the selection process.
The jury cast sealed ballots for which of the seven deserves the Gold Plate, the prize presented by IFMA to the foodservice operator of the year. The winner of that top honor will be revealed at a gala event in Chicago in May, during the National Restaurant Association’s annual convention.
Past winners have included Charlie Trotter, Danny Meyer, Rich Melman, Ruth Fertel, Ralph Brennan, Buffalo Wild Wings CEO Sally Smith, longtime Red Lobster leader Joe Lee and Panera Bread Co. CEO Ron Shaich.