Restaurant Business was named a finalist on Monday for 14 Jesse H. Neal Awards, including Best Media Brand and Best Website, after a year in which the restaurant industry was hit with an unprecedented challenge as the coronavirus led to widespread closures of dining rooms and threatened the existence of thousands of locations.
The awards are the most prestigious honors in specialized journalism and were created in 1955 to recognize editorial excellence in business journalism. This year’s awards recognize work done in 2020.
“This is a recognition of the great work by the RB team during a difficult time in 2020,” said Abbey Lewis, vice president of content strategy for Winsight Media. “It's such an honor to have so many finalists. It shows just how much time and effort the team put in to telling the story of a business that went through so much last year.”
Restaurant Business was named a finalist for several pieces or areas of coverage related to the impact of the coronavirus on the industry. That includes a nomination for Coronavirus in the Food and Beverage Industry, a Facebook group we created last year to provide operators with a forum to discuss the impact of the pandemic and find solutions to problems.
The publication is also a finalist for Best News Coverage for stories detailing the paycheck protection program, led by Editor-at-Large Peter Romeo, including groundbreaking pieces on chain restaurants getting access to the funds as well as a small number of Black operators receiving the loans.
Restaurant Business has also been named a finalist for a pair of awards specifically targeted for coverage of COVID-19.
That includes Best COVID-19 Industry Coverage for RB’s coverage of the impact of the coronavirus on restaurants. Restaurant Business wrote several hundred articles in 2020 on the coronavirus and its impact on restaurants, including breaking news, in-depth pieces, series and features.
RB was also named a finalist for Best COVID-19 Subject Coverage for the series it wrote on Coronavirus and Restaurant Technology, a series that explored the impact COVID-19 was having on restaurants’ use of technology.
“COVID-19 had a massive impact on restaurants and is still having that impact today,” said Restaurant Business Editor-in-Chief Jonathan Maze. “The RB team spent long hours, a lot of weekends, talked to a lot of people and looked at a lot of data to get as good a picture as possible of this impact on every part of the industry. It’s an incredible honor to have this work recognized like this.”
Stories on the shift in technology were also recognized as Neal Award finalists. That includes RB’s coverage of ghost kitchens, led by Senior Editor Joe Guszkowski, which was named a finalist for Best Industry Coverage.
In addition, the “Evolving Kitchens” package was named a finalist for Best Subject-Related Package. Evolving Kitchens used stories and graphical images created by the Winsight design team to explain the change inside kitchens at restaurants and caterers in recent years, and especially since the pandemic.
“Last year was a year of major change for the restaurant business,” said Tara May, executive vice president, executive vice president of media for Restaurant Business parent company Winsight. “The team worked hard to analyze these changes to help our audience understand this evolution, what it means for the industry and how to get through it. To get recognized for this work is well-deserved icing on the cake.”
Restaurant Business is also a finalist for two design awards, including Best Art Direction for a Single Article for The Future of Food package published in January 2020.
Sara Stewart, creative director with Winsight Media, was named a finalist for Best Overall Art Direction/Design.
Editor-at-Large Peter Romeo was named a finalist for his profile, “Peter Cancro’s high-touch approach to growth,” his profile on the Jersey Mike’s CEO and his unique strategy for growing his sandwich chain.
RB’s investigative report on the problems at the fast-casual burger chain Burgerim, “The Burgerim Disaster,” was named a finalist for Best Series.
Maze, the editor behind that series, was also named a finalist for Best Range of Work by a Single Author. And his blog, The Bottom Line, was named a finalist for Best Commentary/Blog.
Restaurant Business was named Best Media Brand in 2020 and has been a finalist for that award numerous times.