National Restaurant Association Announces Winners of the 2nd Annual Operator Innovations Awards Kennesaw State University honored with coveted Innovator of the Year Award

CHICAGO, May 19, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The National Restaurant Association has announced the winners of the second annual Operator Innovations Awards, with Kennesaw State University taking home the prestigious Innovator of the Year award. Selected by an independent panel of expert judges, the winners were recognized for their achievements in driving advancement in the foodservice industry. The innovative restaurant operators were revealed live last night at Destination: Celebration, the gala event for the 2013 National Restaurant Association Restaurant, Hotel-Motel Show, in each award category of: Food Safety, Health & Nutrition, Menu Development, Sustainability, and Technology.

"These restaurant operators have found solutions for their businesses with programs and initiatives that combine creativity and hard work," says Jeffrey W. Davis, Convention Chair for NRA Show 2013 and IWSB and CEO of the United States Beef Corporation. "The 2013 Operator Innovations Awards winners redefine how the industry views innovation, and will serve as the benchmark for other operators to apply the same innovative spirit within their own operations."

The 2013 Operator Innovations Awards winners are:

Food Safety
Ninety Nine Restaurants (Woburn, Mass.)
An allergy alert system that combines staff training and involvement with clear communications via ordering, display systems and tracking, ensuring awareness and proper preparation for everyone who touches a guest's food and minimizing risk for all.

Health & Nutrition
United States Air Force (San Antonio, Texas)
Food Transformation Initiative (FTI), revolutionizes Air Force food selections, cooking methods, meal availability, and merchandising to guide customers toward healthier choices. When comparing participating with non-participating operations, performance metrics confirm FTI elevates healthfulness, energy and alertness through optimal nutrition, without sacrificing flavor, taste and satisfaction.

Menu Development
HMSHost (Bethesda, Md.)
The Freedom To Choose Web portal is an internally developed, custom online tool for the company's 100+ airport operations and is designed to give local operators access to hundreds of menu items, allowing them to quickly and easily tailor menus to keep up with traveler preferences and regional trends.

Sustainability
Kennesaw State University (Kennesaw, Ga.)
The University's 5,000 guest/day dining operation incorporates a comprehensive, closed-loop waste management program through a variety of efforts including a robust organic "Farm-to-Campus-to-Farm" program, water reclamation, aerobic digestion, composting/recycling programs, oil-to-biodiesel conversion and more to significantly reduce costs, minimize environmental impact and qualify the facility for a gold LEED certification.

Technology
Walt Disney Parks and Resorts (Lake Buena Vista, Fla.)
The Be Our Guest Restaurant utilizes a unique fast-casual restaurant system capable of automating elements throughout the operation, including RF table locators, ordering, checkout, back-of-the-house workflow and more to deliver a personalized, streamlined experience for guests that allows the operation to serve more than 3,000 meals at lunch each day.

The annual National Restaurant Association Restaurant, Hotel-Motel Show is the largest single gathering of restaurant, foodservice, and lodging professionals. NRA Show 2013 will be held May 18-21 at McCormick Place in Chicago, and the 2013 International Wine, Spirits & Beer Event held in conjunction with the NRA Show will take place May 19-20. The events attract 61,000+ attendees and visitors from all 50 states and 100+ countries, and the event showcases the latest products, services, innovative ideas, up-to-the-minute information about trends and issues, and more growth opportunities than any other industry event. For more information, visit the NRA Show and IWSB Websites at Restaurant.org/Show and WineSpiritsBeer.org, and find the NRA Show on Twitter @NRAShow, Facebook, YouTube and its widely read NRA Show Blog.

Founded in 1919, the National Restaurant Association is the leading business association for the restaurant industry, which comprises 980,000 restaurant and foodservice outlets and a workforce of more than 13 million employees. We represent the industry in Washington, D.C., and advocate on its behalf. We operate the industry's largest trade show (NRA Show May 18-21, 2013, in Chicago); leading food safety training and certification program (ServSafe); unique career-building high school program (the NRAEF's ProStart;) as well as the Kids LiveWell program promoting healthful kids' menu options. For more information, visit www.restaurant.org and find us on Twitter @WeRRestaurants, Facebook and YouTube.

SOURCE National Restaurant Association



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