Long Beach Hospitality Alliance Announces Nominees for Inaugural Industry Awards

The Long Beach Hospitality Alliance (LBHA) has announced the nominees for its first-ever Hospitality Awards Dinner, set to take place Wednesday, September 27 at Hotel Maya.

Nearly 160 nominations were submitted during the month of July in 13 special recognition categories and were reviewed by four judges: Program Director and Professor of Hospitality Management at Cal State Long Beach Lee Blecher, Grunion Gazette Publisher Simon Grieve, OC Weekly restaurant writer Sarah Bennett and constituency development coordinator at Mental Health America’s Long Beach chapter Rhonda Schultz.


“We’re extremely pleased with the number of nominations that were submitted for this inaugural year,” Pam Ryan, general manager of Renaissance Long Beach Hotel and co-founder of the LBHA, said in a statement. “LBHA was founded to advocate for our industry on a local level and, at the same time, offer educational opportunities for those working in our city’s hospitality industry. We also want to celebrate those who help make Long Beach such a great tourism destination, and that’s what the Hospitality Awards are intended to do.”

The winners of each category will be announced during the awards dinner, joined by Mayor Robert Garcia and Councilmembers Suzie Price, Stacy Mungo and Daryl Supernaw. Attendees can bid during a silent auction benefitting Mental Health America’s Long Beach chapter, entertainment will be provided by local duo Queen Califia and the event will be emceed by the publisher of Long Beach TravelHost Magazine, Dan Lipton.

The nominees for this year’s awards are (in no particular order):

Rising Star Award
Evelyn Garcia, Lounge Server/Bartender, Hilton Long Beach
Kimberly Gros, Founder, SteelCraft
Alexis Amato, Senior Sales Manager, Hotel Maya
William ‘Ki’ Realer, Bartender, Hilton Long Beach
Taylor Roll, Senior Corporate Manager, Hotel Maya

Unsung Hero Award
Jimmy Hannon, Pro-Shop Manager, Rec-9 Golf Course
Rafael Sanchez, Banquet Server, Hyatt Regency
Miguel Albar, Bellperson/Driver, Hilton Long Beach
Karen Flores, Front Desk Agent, Hilton Long Beach
Jackie Melin, Server, Fuego at Hotel Maya

Beyond the Call of Duty
Richard Grimaldo, Director of Facilities, Hyatt Centric The Pike
Alfonso Idio, Laundry Attendant, Hilton Long Beach
Jackie Melin, Server, Hotel Maya
Jonathan Brown, Accounts Payable Clerk, Westin Long Beach
Scott Fisher, Sommelier, L’Opera

Lifetime Achievement
Javier Becerra, Room Service Server, Hyatt Regency
Athena Quesada, Operator, Hilton Long Beach
John Morris, Manager/Partner, Boathouse on the Bay
Terrence Antonelli, Owner, L’Opera
Raquel Jubran , Executive Chef/Partner, Lasher’s Kitchen

Community Spirit Award
Visoth Ouk ‘Chef T’, The Federal Bar
Dana & Paul Buchanan, Owners, Primal Alchemy Catering
Marcos Benavidez, General Manager, Elise’s Tea Room
Eric Johnson, Owner, Legend’s Sports Bar
Alison DeBorba, Convention Services Manager, Hotel Maya

Sustainability Award
Salud Juice
SteelCraft/Howard CDM

Hotel Award
Hotel Maya
Renaissance Long Beach
Courtyard by Marriott Long Beach Downtown

Restaurant Award
Parkers’ Lighthouse
Boathouse on the Bay
Michael’s On Naples
L’Opera Ristorante
James Republic

Entrepreneur Award
Kimberly Gros, Founder, SteelCraft
Layla Ali-Ahmed, Founder, Beach City Food Tours
Aaron Tofani, Restaurateur, Rance’s Pizza
Ray & Lynn Lasher, Owners, Lasher’s Kitchen

Special Event Award
Dine Out Long Beach, Restaurant Week 2.0
Belmont Shore Business Association, Stroll & Savor
L’Opera Ristorante c/o Nicole and Justine, Private Dining & Events
SteelCraft, 2017 Summer Series
Level Events, Modern Speakeasy at Hotel Maya

Innovation in Hospitality
Carrie Arnold, Marketing, Schwag App
Kimberly Gros, Founder, SteelCraft
Steve Goodling, President & CEO, Long Beach Convention & Visitors Bureau
Terry Antonelli, Restaurateur, L’Opera
Jaratporn Sungkamee, Restaurateur, Spicy Sugar

Supplier Award
Level Entertainment c/o Taylor Gunnin
Stephanie Linens c/o Lorena Ruiz
PSAV c/o Michael Fraitag

Housekeeping Award
Hortencia Gutierrez Hilton Long Beach
Maria Torres, Hilton Long Beach
Gloria Jimenez, Hilton Long Beach
Elizabeth Miguel, Hilton Long Beach
Lupe Serrano, Renaissance Long Beach

To purchase tickets for the LBHA Hospitality Awards, visit the link here. To learn more about the LBHA, click here

Support our journalism.

Hyperlocal news is an essential force in our democracy, but it costs money to keep an organization like this one alive, and we can’t rely on advertiser support alone. That’s why we’re asking readers like you to support our independent, fact-based journalism. We know you like it—that’s why you’re here. Help us keep hyperlocal news alive in Long Beach.

Asia Morris has been with the Long Beach Post for five years, specializing in coverage of the arts. Her parents gave her the name because they wanted her to be a world traveler and they got their wish. In her off-work hours she has competed in cycling races in Milan, Barcelona, Seoul and Brooklyn.