Greater Kansas City Restaurant Association

Kansas City restaurant industry awards announced in 14 categories at Greater Kansas City Restaurant Association annual event

Event featured panel discussion with past scholarship recipients

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (Sept. 30, 2019) – The Greater Kansas City Restaurant Association’s (GKCRA) annual Gilbert/Robinson (GR) Leadership and Awards Dinner unveiled restaurant-industry awards in a total of 14 categories. Preceding the 14 awards, the GKCRA presented area culinary and hospitality students with more than $20,000 to help prepare Kansas City’s next generation of restaurant leaders. The Sept. 29 event also included a panel discussion featuring past scholarship recipients discussing their experiences in the industry and where they are now.

Kansas City Hospitality Employee of the Year Awards

The GR Dinner presented by Sysco recognizes the outstanding contributions to the Kansas City restaurant industry by businesses and individuals through both the GKCRA’s members and allied members. The GKCRA announced 14 award recipients, honoring the top leadership in categories ranging from bartender, server, chef and catering manager. All award-winners were nominated by an employer or colleague and voted on by industry peers. Winners are as follows:

Chef/Owner of the Year

Name: Carl Throne-Thomsen

Name of Restaurant: Story


Chef of the Year

Name: Joshua Minnich

Name of Restaurant: Pig & Finch Gastropub


GKCRA Spotlight Award

Name: John Foster 

Name of Restaurant: Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts – Company Kitchen


Heart of the House Employee

Name: Alexandria Snavely

Name of Restaurant: Trago Bar & Tapas


Back of the House Employee

Name: Marquann Turrentine

Name of Restaurant: Jack Stack Freight House


Server of the Year

Name: Kelly McFarland

Name of Restaurant: Hereford House (Leawood)


Sous Chef of the Year

Name: Javier Carrillo

Name of Restaurant: Q39

General Manager of the Year

Name: Michael Flenniken

Name of Restaurant: Longhorn Steakhouse (Olathe)


Catering Manager of the Year

Name: Genny Scott

Name of Restaurant: Hereford House (Leawood)


Overall Employee of the Year

Name: Brian Couch

Name of Restaurant: Company Kitchen

Utility Steward of the Year

Name: Joni Frix

Name of Restaurant: Kingswood Senior Living


Prostart Educator of the Year

Name: Rachel Mitchell

Name of School: Staley High School


Allied Employee of the Year

Name: Michelle Vun Cannon

Name of Company: Affinity Group


Bartender of the Year                                                   

Name: Michael Hampton                                               

Name of Restaurant: Red Robin Gourmet Burgers


Scholarship Recipients

The GKCRA presented 10 scholarships to area culinary and hospitality students at the Sept. 29 event. The scholarships ranged from $1,500 to $2,500, in addition to matched funds through the National Restaurant Association Education Foundation and the Missouri Restaurant Association. Because of these matched fund contributions, the GKCRA was able to award more than $20,000 to Kansas City students seeking a degree or certificate in a hospitality or restaurant-related field. Scholarship recipients are as follows:

James H. Block Scholarship: Named after a Kansas City icon in commercial real estate and restaurant development, Jimmy Block was a pioneer responsible for building, opening and operating franchised restaurants in and around the Kansas City area. Block owned and operated more than 50 restaurants in the Kansas City region and Nevada, including Kansas City’s original franchises for Pizza Hut and Taco Bell.

·       Cecilia Knight


Jerry Vincent Scholarship: Jerry Vincent has served the industry for four decades. He started the Hospitality Management Program at Johnson County Community College in 1965 and previously worked as the Membership Director for the Missouri Restaurant Association.

·       Riley Seuser

Joe Adelman Scholarship: The Joe Adelman Scholarship is dedicated to encouraging the growth of minorities in the hospitality industry.

·       Milagros Garza


John Joyce Scholarship: As a mentor to many students, John Joyce truly believed that students are the future, therefore creating the scholarship to fund future students’ education in the restaurant and hospitality industry. Joyce was an internationally known chef and was previously a judge for the American Culinary Institute.

·       Bailey Sargent


Gary Berbiglia Scholarship:

·       Kealani Daniels


Lynn Corbett Scholarship:

·       Nathan Larson


GKCRA Scholarships:

·       Ashley Hogan

·       Alleena Roberson

·       Sydnee Caton

·       Cooper Brickell


About Gilbert/Robinson

The Gilbert/Robinson Dinner celebrates a standard of excellence set by former Kansas City restaurant firm, Gilbert/Robinson. Founded in 1961, the Kansas City-based restaurant company became a national leader in the industry with distinguished innovations in menu, decor and service. The group created several legendary concepts in Kansas City, including Houlihan's, Bristol Seafood Grill, Fedora Café and Bar, Plaza III and Fred P. Ott's.

About Greater Kansas City Restaurant Association

The Greater Kansas City Restaurant Association (GKCRA) celebrated 100 years representing the restaurant and hospitality industry on Jan. 30, 2016. The GKCRA was established in 1916 in order to take a stand against the rising cost of eggs; when these efforts received national attention, the same group launched the National Restaurant Association (NRA) in 1919. The GKCRA pioneered efforts for restaurant associations across the country. The NRA headquarters remained in Kansas City until 1927.

The Greater Kansas City Restaurant Association (GKCRA) is an active association working to represent, educate and promote the restaurant and hospitality industries in the Missouri counties of Cass, Clay, Jackson, and Platte and Kansas counties of Johnson, Leavenworth and Wyandotte with members consisting of restaurants, caterers, hospitals, schools, institutions, clubs and business serving the restaurant industries (allied members). For more information on the GKCRA, “like” us on Facebook at or follow the GKCRA on Twitter at