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.
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
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
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
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