Kansas City hosts Centennial Celebration for The Greater Kansas City Restaurant Association and dual Inaugural event Jan. 30

CEO of the National Restaurant Association providing industry keynote commemorating Kansas City as birthplace of national organization; bi-state restaurant leadership present awards and honors

KANSAS CITY, MO. (Jan. 14, 2016) – The Greater Kansas City Restaurant Association (GKCRA) will host a Centennial Anniversary and Inaugural Gala to kick off its 100th anniversary on Saturday, Jan. 30 at the Sheraton Kansas City Crown Center Hotel. The Centennial Celebration will recognize Kansas City’s pioneering efforts as the birthplace of the National Restaurant Association (NRA), as well as serve as the inauguration for 2016 Missouri Restaurant Association (MRA) President Buddy Lahl and 2016 GKCRA President James Eddy.

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 NRA in 1919. The group was comprised of key members, including George Fowler, Myron Green, Guy Taylor, A.B. Carder and W. J. Holt. The NRA headquarters remained in Kansas City until 1927.

Fowler was father-in-law to Joseph Gilbert Sr. of the iconic Gilbert/Robinson restaurant group, who went on to help form the Missouri State Restaurant Association. As the local chapters and the NRA continued to grow, statewide organizations formed with local chapters becoming affiliates in a more formal structure. The MRA was founded September 26, 1935; the GKCRA is an affiliate of the MRA as well as the Kansas Restaurant and Hospitality Association (KRHA).

The Centennial Celebration is a significant restaurant industry event, celebrating Kansas City icons, respected leaders, past GKCRA presidents and the current leaders making an impact. The event brings together restaurant industry leaders, partners, civic organizations and political representatives from the bi-state area to commemorate the anniversary of the GKCRA, as well as the origin of the NRA. The Centennial Celebration celebrates the history of the organization and sets the stage for the next generation of leadership and commitments to the American Dream.

National Restaurant Association Keynote
The event will include an industry keynote address from current NRA president and CEO Dawn Sweeney, who will be attending the Centennial Celebration with other NRA representatives. Sweeney’s address will focus on Kansas City and the GKCRA’s pivotal role in restaurant industry leadership and the original birthplace of the NRA.  

Centennial Anniversary and Inaugural Gala Details
The Centennial Celebration not only recognizes the GKCRA’s leadership and representation of the restaurant industry for the past 100 years, but also the restaurant industry’s continued expansion as the second largest employer in the nation. Guests will experience Kansas City’s past 100 years in the restaurant industry through presentations, historical photos and more.

The gala will inaugurate 2016 MRA President Buddy Lahl of Kingswood Senior Living, a 30-year industry veteran, and 2016 GKCRA President James Eddy of Popeye’s Louisiana Kitchen, a third generation restaurateur.

The event will also induct Victor Allred of Jazz, A Louisiana Kitchen and Todd Hulse of Fiorella’s Jack Stack Barbecue into the MRA Hall of Fame, as well as the present the MRA Distinguished Service Award to Michael Burris of Aeris. The first recipients of the Ronald L. Barkley Scholarship, recently established and named for respected restaurateur, Ronald Barkley, will announce during the evening as well.

Additionally, the previously announced Kansas City Restaurateur of the Year Kevin Timmons of Nick & Jake’s and Company of the Year Excel Linen will be recognized.

Attendance and Tickets
Tickets are available for purchase for $125 per person and tables are available for up to 10 guests. Additionally, sponsorship opportunities are available for interested patrons. All tickets must be purchased by Friday, Jan. 22. For more information, contact Marie Brancato at (816) 753-5222. The event will be held in the Crown Center Exhibit Hall of the Sheraton Kansas City Crown Center hotel.

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