Regynald Washington, the onetime busboy who rose to president of a concessionaire that runs a wide variety of airport restaurants, was named last night as the nation’s top foodservice operator by the International Foodservice Manufacturers Association (IFMA).
“When I was a kid, 13 years old, in restaurants doing every imaginable job, I never thought I’d be standing here,” said Washington as he accepted IFMA’s Gold Plate Award. Prior winners have included Wolfgang Puck, Ruth Fertel, Joe Baum, Rich Melman, Ralph Brennan, Ted Balestreri and Charlie Trotter. “I am truly touched by this honor.”
Washington, president of Paradies Lagardere’s dining division, was selected from among the 10 winners of IFMA’s Silver Plate award, an honor recognizing the top operator in various industry segments. He won the Silver Plate in the retail and specialty foodservice category.
Paradies runs a variety of full-service restaurants, from P.F. Chang’s to concepts that showcase the culinary styles of celebrity chefs such as Michael Mina, Cat Cora and Michael Symon. Its quick-service operations include branches of Wendy’s, Qdoba, Potbelly, Lavazza and The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf.
Washington has worked in the foodservice industry for more than 50 years, starting as a busboy in the Florida Keys. Much of his career was spent with The Walt Disney Co., including foodservice leadership posts at Walt Disney World and the entertainment company’s chain of sport bars, ESPN Zone.
He has also served as chairman of the National Restaurant Association.
Other Silver Plate winners included four executives from restaurant and hospitality companies:
- Peter Cancaro, CEO, Jersey Mike’s, in the limited-service chain category.
- Beverly Lynch, VP Of food and beverage for Golden Corral, for full-service restaurants.
- John Arena and Sam Facchini, partners in Metro Pizza, for independents/multiconcept operators.
- Don Falgoust, VP of food and beverage, RLJ Lodging Trust.
Silver Plates are also awarded in the four main segments of the so-called noncommercial segment:
- Randy Lait, senior director of hospitality services, North Carolina State University, in the colleges and universities category.
- Bill Marks, director of food, nutrition and environmental services, Hennepin Healthcare, in the healthcare segment.
- Rodney Taylor, director of food and nutrition services for Fairfax County (Va.) Public Schools, in schools competition.
- Lorna Donatone, CEO of geographic regions and North America, Sodexo, for the business and industry segment
The Silver Plate winners were selected by a jury that included past winners, industry luminaries and editors from industry publications, including Restaurant Business. The jury votes by secret ballot for the Gold Plate winner.
That winner is announced at a banquet hosted by IFMA during the National Restaurant Association’s annual convention in Chicago.