Kansas City culinary students awarded nearly $34,000 in scholarships in preparation for next generation industry leaders

The Greater Kansas City Restaurant Association continues its commitment to education and leadership with scholarship presentations

KANSAS CITY, MO. (Oct. 6, 2015) – The Greater Kansas City Restaurant Association (GKCRA) presented 15 scholarships to area culinary and hospitality students at the 2015 Gilbert Robinson (GR) Leadership and Awards Dinner presented by Sysco on Sept. 30. The scholarships will help prepare Kansas City’s next generation of hospitality and restaurant leaders as they continue restaurant-industry education.

The GKCRA presented scholarships ranged from $250 to $2,000, 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 a total of $33,900 to Kansas City students seeking a degree or certificate in a hospitality or restaurant-related field.

Scholarship Recipients

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.

  • Rateb Aburas

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.

  • George Spotswood

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

  • Kayla Jones 

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 is an internationally known chef and is a judge for the American Culinary Institute.

  • Hannah Morales

ProStart High School Scholarship: The ProStart High School scholarship is awarded to multiple Kansas City-area ProStart students attending a post-secondary hospitality or culinary program upon graduation.

  • Holly Bennet
  • Brianna Lambert

Kevin Timmons Scholarship: From a young age, Kevin has worked in the restaurant industry, from washing dishes in the kitchen to opening restaurants. Locally, Kevin opened Nick and Jake’s in July 2001, and has since opened two additional Nick and Jake’s restaurants in the greater Kansas City area that give back to the community. 

  • Shelby Fahrni

Excel Linen Scholarship: Founded in 1931, Excel Linen has been owned and operated by the Joseph F. Brancato Family since 1974. With the help of his boys and many great employees, Excel Linen has become a leader in the Kansas City hospitality linen rental industry. Today, Excel Linen serves a 100-mile radius of Kansas City businesses, including 16 routes with more than 1,200 customers.

  • Rebecca Shields

Maxine Elizabeth Accurso Scholarship:

  • Alexis Hazen

Patricia Hill Scholarship:

  • Kathryn Ratzleff

GKCRA Scholarship:  

  • Isaac Dominguez
  • Sarah Wright
  • Billie Chamberlin

GKCRA Text Book Grants:

  • Albertina Savage
  • Presley Wehrle

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 the Kansas City market 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) is a trade association with more than 600 members consisting of restaurants, caterers, hospitals, schools, institutions, clubs and in-plant cafeterias as well as vendors serving the local restaurant industry. Members work together 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. For more information on the GKCRA, “like” us on Facebook at or follow GKCRA on Twitter at