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Huntsville’s Ryals, ChurchStreet Family Hospitality honored

BIRMINGHAM – Judy Ryals, who recently retired as president and CEO of the Huntsville-Madison County Convention and Visitors Bureau, and a trio of ChurchStreet restaurateurs were recently recognized with Stars of the Industry Awards.

The four were honored by the Alabama Restaurant & Hospitality Association during an awards show last week at the Renaissance Birmingham Ross Bridge Golf Resort & Spa. The event celebrates excellence in the restaurant and hospitality industry.

Ryals was bestowed for Lifetime Achievement, her second such honor this year. Previously, Gov. Kay Ivey presented her with a Lifetime Achievement award at the Governor’s Conference on Tourism in Fairhope.

Meanwhile, Matt and Stephanie Mell of ChurchStreet Family Hospitality were honored as Restaurateur of the Year and ChurchStreet’s Brandon Zeller was named Restaurant Manager of the Year.

ChurchStreet Family (Facebook)

Ryals joined the CVB in 1978 and at the time of her retirement was the longest serving director of a tourism agency in Alabama. She has been appointed by six governors to serve on the Advisory Board of the Alabama Tourism Department and has served as Chairman.

She was one of the first females to serve as a board member of the International Association of Convention & Visitor Bureaus, which is now Destination Marketing Association International.

She has served on the Board of Directors of many statewide boards including the Alabama Council of Association Executives, Alabama Association of Convention & Visitor Bureaus and Alabama Travel Council.

The Mells have gone all-in during Huntsaville’s growth in the last decade, first with the ChurchStreet Wine Bar & Bottle Shoppe in 2014 before expanding their extensive culinary catalog, including opening the Bar and Bottle Shoppe at Providence. Matt is originally from Scottsboro, but the couple has lived in New Jersey and California.

Their restaurants and bars include Purveyor, Mazzara’s, Pourhouse, Sea Salt, Catacomb 435, ChurchStreet Test Kitchen, and The Library at Purveyor Piano Bar.

This month, ChurchStreet is hosting the Italian Wine & Food Festival this week at MidCity’s Orion Amphitheater, Mazzara’s and another location TBD for a pop-up celebrity chef meet-and-greet. It’s billed as a celebration for “the rich tapestry of Italian culture and showcasing the passion and artistry that go into its food and wine. It’s not just a culinary event; it’s an immersion into the heart and soul of Italy.” The event is Thursday through Saturday.

For schedule and other information, visit www.churchstreetfamily.com. 

The 2023 ARHA winners:

Legislators of the Year

Sen. Chris Elliott

Rep. David Faulkner

Rep. Frances Holk-Jones

Lifetime Achievement

Judy Ryals – Huntsville/Madison County Convention & Visitors Bureau

Restaurateur of the Year

Matt & Stephanie Mell – ChurchStreet Family Hospitality

Hotelier of the Year

Josh Head – The Laurel Hotel & Spa

Small Hotelier of the Year

Sanjay Patel – Baron Hospitality

Tourism Promoter of the Year

Melea Hames – Alabama Mountain Lakes Tourist Association

Chef of the Year

Pete Blohme – PP Hospitality Group

Best New Culinarian of the Year

Agustin Echazarreta – The Grand Hotel Golf Resort & Spa, Autograph Collection

Bartender of the Year

Justin Owens – 23 Court Cigar Bar

Supplier of the Year

Croux

Humanitarian of the Year

David & Joe Maluff – Full Moon BBQ

Front of the House Hospitality Employee of the Year

Rose Stankova – Perdido Beach Resort – Outstanding Star

Carla Grace – Renaissance Birmingham Ross Bridge Golf Resort & Spa

Carlos Gutierrez – Renaissance Birmingham Ross Bridge Golf Resort & Spa

Yabreeka Nunn – Ithaka Hospitality Partners

Front of the House Restaurant Employee of the Year

Thomas McKelvy – The Depot – Outstanding Star

Heather Cruz – Renaissance Mobile Riverview Plaza Hotel

Taylor Janousek – Ithaka Hospitality Partners

Bertram McKowin – Aloha Hospitality / Baumhower’s

Marvin Morales – Perdido Beach Resort

Travis Pittman – PP Hospitality Group

Olga Tyus – The Battle House Renaissance Mobile Hotel & Spa

Heart of the House Hospitality Employee of the Year

Eddie Dubose – Grand Bohemian Hotel Mountain Brook – Outstanding Star

Bert Bellcase – Renaissance Mobile Riverview Plaza Hotel

Roy Dillon – Renaissance Birmingham Ross Bridge Golf Resort & Spa

William Mitchell – The Grand Hotel Golf Resort & Spa, Autograph Collection

Brenda Murphy – The Battle House Renaissance Mobile Hotel & Spa

Mark Thomas – Renaissance Montgomery Hotel & Spa at the Convention Center

Liliana Trujillo – Ithaka Hospitality Partners  

Back of the House Restaurant Employee of the Year:

Judson Gonzales – Battle House Renaissance Mobile Hotel & Spa- Outstanding Star

Stan Barfield -Vintage Hospitality Group

Deunta Dunning – PP Hospitality Group

De’Angelo Griffin – The Depot

Cory Steadham – Steelwood Country Club

Nicholas Teates – The Depot  

Hospitality Department Manager of the Year

Jessie Radcliff – Perdido Beach Resort – Outstanding Star

Edneva Ayers -Huntsville Marriott at the Space & Rocket Center

Wade Combs – Renaissance Ross Bridge Golf Resort & Spa

​Kim Koger – Marriott Shoals Hotel and Spa

Jonathan McKinney -Renaissance Ross Bridge Golf Resort & Spa

Julie Mosley -Grand Bohemian Hotel Mountain Brook

Mike Tatham – Valley Hotel

Tim Tribo – The Lodge at Gulf State Park 

Restaurant Manager of the Year

Brandon Zeller – ChurchStreet Family – Outstanding Star

Robin Bashinsky – Blue Root

Cori Gaston – PP Hospitality Group

Amber Harris – Steelwood Country Club

Robyn Johnston – Vintage Café

Lee Jones – Fisher’s at Orange Beach Marina

Justin Owens – 23 Court Cigar Bar

Spirit Award

Velpo Buckhanon – Ithaka Hospitality Partners – Outstanding Star

Celina Aleman – Auburn Marriott Opelika Resort & Spa

Allison Flowers – The Grand Hotel Golf Resort & Spa, Autograph Collection

Ashley Rambo – Renaissance Montgomery Hotel & Spa at the Convention Center

Anthony Terling – Auburn Opelika Tourism

 

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