2019 PRLA Spirit of Hospitality Awards

    The PRLA annually honors exceptional members of the hospitality industry for their leadership, commitment, and service to the industry and community. PRLA is proud to recognize the following individuals and businesses for their innovation, dedication, and success.

    Future of the Industry – Abbe Sterne
    Operations & Events Manager, Rittenhouse Hotel & Founder, Fooding Forward

    Abbe Sterne is on a mission. Her goal is to make Philadelphia a zero food-waste city.
    In May of 2018, Abbe started rescuing leftover bread from banquet events at The Rittenhouse Hotel. She saw the amount of food being thrown away and wanted to do something about it, so she started collecting the leftover bread and donating it to a local food rescue organization. The process was working but she knew more could be done. As she started reaching out to neighboring restaurants and hotels, she found more food in need of rescue. Abbe established Fooding Forward as the hospitality industry’s solution for eliminating food waste. Fooding Forward works exclusively with restaurants and hotels, connecting them with local food rescue organizations and creating recurring pickup routes, making the food rescue process seamless and easy for both donors and organizations.

    Employee of the Year – Danny Castellanos
    Prep Cook, The Pressroom Restaurant & Bar

    Danny Castellanos is a trailblazer. He was the first student to enroll in Millersville University’s Integrated Studies program, an inclusive post-secondary program for students with an intellectual disability. A program requirement was to complete an externship, so he paired up with The Pressroom Restaurant in Lancaster. Immediately after completing his externship, The Pressroom hired Danny for a full-time position. He’s been the prep cook for three years and is responsible for making the runs to the Central Market for product pick up.
    Danny recognizes the importance of inclusive education. In 2017, he was invited to speak to representatives in Washington, DC on the reauthorization of the Higher Education Act regarding the importance of higher education for all people. He was also interviewed by WITF and is featured in their 2018 documentary Going Home.

    Manager of the Year – Mark Spinazzola
    Vice President of Procurement & Central Processing, Hoss’s Family Steak & Sea Restaurants/Marzoni’s Brick Oven & Brewing

    As Vice President of Procurement & Central Processing for Hoss’s Family Steak & Sea Restaurants/Marzoni’s Brick Oven & Brewing, an organization employing over 2,000 people, Mark Spinazzola is an invaluable member of the team. He successfully manages numerous responsibilities that directly impact the success of Hoss’s and Marzoni’s; he displays unquestioned integrity and professionalism; and he is loved and respected by his staff and peers. In addition, Mark fully understands how personal engagement can make all the difference.
    Mark is a leader in the Hoss’ organization who truly understands the connection between doing business in our communities and serving and giving back to our communities. It is one thing to support area organizations by sharing our company’s resources, but it goes beyond this with Mark. He regularly contributes professional and personal time and effort to numerous causes, such as Little League, Boy Scouts, the MS Society, and many more.

    Eco-Hero Award – RE Farm Café
    State College

    This past July, longtime restaurateurs Duke and Monica Gastiger traded the speakeasy nightlife for scenic, sustainable, farm-to-fork when they opened their newest concept, RE Farm Café, just outside of State College, Pa. The restaurant highlights locally sourced produce, dairy, and meat, as well as focusing on sustainable food production with a twist. The establishment is powered by solar energy and decorated with upcycled, reusable materials, including old farming tools arranged as a chandelier and dining chairs reused from Pattee Library. RE Farm is one of the only induction users in the United States and will help them on their mission to conserve energy while creating healthy foods.

    Campaign of the Year – Butler County Tourism & Convention Bureau

    Butler County Tourism’s 30 Days of Giveaways is a holiday promotional social media campaign where prizes are given away daily on the Bureau’s Facebook page. In its second year, the Bureau had a 36 percent increase in participation by its member-businesses who gave away prizes valuing more than 35-hundred-dollars. Nearly 11,000 people entered the contest and more than 117,000 saw the campaign posts.
    The 2018 campaign was a huge hit and was featured on a local radio station and in two different newspapers. The program connects the Bureau’s members with the community, as well as increase awareness of what the Butler County Tourism office does.

    Event of the Year – Revolutionary 5-Mile Run
    Valley Forge Tourism & Convention Board

    The Valley Forge Tourism & Convention Board hosted its 14th annual Revolutionary 5-Mile Run at Valley Forge National Historical Park. The event is the only race run entirely through a national park, and raises money for the park. This year, the Board contributed its largest donation to date, and third record-setting amount, with $56,500. This event, to date, has contributed nearly a half-a-million dollars to enhance the visitor experience at the park. Registration is now open for the 15th annual run, which takes place on April 19, 2020.

    Wilmer S. Lapp Community Service Award – Food & Beverage Team
    DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel & Suites, Pittsburgh Downtown

    The F&B team at the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel & Suites Pittsburgh Downtown has been fighting hunger in the Pittsburgh community for years. For the last 10 years, the DoubleTree’s Executive Chef, Anthony Zallo, has represented the hotel and the city of Pittsburgh at the annual Taste of the NFL. This Super Bowl week event is a party with a purpose as it brings together chefs and personalities from the 32 NFL cities to raise money for hunger-related charities. Chef Zallo’s efforts have raised more than $156,000 for the Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank, which translates into 780,000 meals for the Bigelow Grille’s local neighbors in need.

    National Restaurant Association Industry Awards Program
    PRLA also recognized state winners for two national awards programs: Restaurant Neighbor and Faces of Diversity awards. State winners went on to compete nationally.

    Restaurant Neighbor Award
    The Restaurant Neighbor Award recognizes the goodness of the industry by highlighting outstanding local and national charitable service and philanthropy.
    Angelo’s Restaurant – Washington
    Angelo’s Restaurant helps members in its community overcome unexpected financial burdens through its Spaghetti & Meatballs fundraisers.
    Beechie’s Place – Meadowlands
    On any given day you may find Beechie’s Place’s co-owner/ executive chef Lane McFarland with either a chef’s knife in hand or a microphone—at the local high school where he volunteers as a vocal coach for the school’s music program.
    Priory Hospitality Group – Pittsburgh
    Over the last five years, PHG has helped raised over $260,000 in support of Work, an organization accompanying families in Haiti out of poverty through good, dignified jobs.

    Faces of Diversity
    The Faces of Diversity Award recognizes champions of diversity and inclusions, as well as restaurateurs who have achieved their American Dream through the opportunities provided by the industry.
    Amina Aliako – Amina’s Foods – Reading Terminal Market, Philadelphia
    Amina Aliako and her family were displaced from their hometown of Aleppo, Syria after the outbreak of the civil war in 2011. For five years, they lived as refugees in Turkey, until they were able to re-settle in Philadelphia in January 2017.
    Amina, the sole breadwinner for her family of six, managed to get a part-time janitorial job at the Reading Terminal Market, and just one year later opened her own stand selling pickled vegetables and other traditional Syrian foods to market-goers five days a week.

    Watch their stories at www.prla.org/awards.