The Louisiana Restaurant Association (LRA) and its chair, Rob King, vice president of Pitt Grill Inc. in Lake Charles, are pleased to announce this year’s Restaurateur of the Year, Associate Member of the Year, Advocate of the Year and Hall of Fame Inductee. The honorees were recognized at the LRA Awards Reception at L’Auberge Casino Resort in Lake Charles October 29, 2018.
The 2018 Restaurateurs of the Year are co-proprietors and siblings Katy Casbarian and Archie Casbarian of Arnaud’s, French 75 Bar and Remoulade Restaurant in New Orleans. Both have volunteered extensively for the LRA, its Education Foundation and the Self Insurer’s Fund for Workers’ Compensation. This is the LRA’s most prestigious award and this recognition coincides with the 100th Anniversary of Arnaud’s Restaurant. The two are second-generation restaurateurs and second-generation members of the association. Under their leadership, the restaurant has undergone renovations to update the 975-seat establishment, which consists of a main dining room and numerous private dining options. French 75 Bar won a 2017 James Beard Award for Outstanding Bar Program, and it has appeared on Esquire Magazine’s Best Bars in America for several years.
The 2018 Associate Member of the Year is TABASCO® Brand, led by fifth-generation family member and President and CEO Anthony “Tony” Simmons. TABASCO® Brand products are made by McIlhenny Company, founded by Edmund McIlhenny in 1868 on Avery Island, Louisiana. In 2018, McIlhenny Company celebrates its 150th Anniversary and bottles four million bottles of the pepper sauce per week, following an aging process of up to three years in white oak barrels. With 200 employees, half of which actually live on Avery Island, many of their parents and grandparents have worked and lived there as well. While the Original Red Pepper Sauce stays true to the history of TABASCO® Brand, the TABASCO Family of Flavors® features eight varieties of high-quality pepper sauces—from mild to wild, there’s something for everyone. TABASCO® is a global brand and has significantly contributed to Louisiana being internationally known for flavorful cuisine.
The 2018 Hall of Fame Inductee is David Hearn of Catfish Cabin in Monroe, Louisiana—a second-generation co-owner, along with his brother Russell and sister Patricia. Hearn served as the LRA’s Chair in 2013 and has been an exemplary volunteer for its Self Insurer’s Fund for Workers’ Compensation and Education Foundation. He began working in the restaurant at the age of 11, and this is where his parents instilled service to others in him. Hearn is also a volunteer Ouachita Parish Reserve Deputy. He will join past inductees from the LRA’s Northeast Chapter, such as the late Don Weems of Waterfront Grill, who was a mentor to Hearn.
The 2018 Advocate of Year is The Honorable Blake Miguez, a Louisiana State Representative for District 49, which encompasses Iberia and Vermillion parishes. Rep. Miguez serves on the Appropriations, Labor and Industrial Relations and the Natural Resources and Environment Committees. The Advocate of the Year recognizes an individual who has supported the advocacy efforts of the LRA and its partner industries. Rep. Miguez has worked closely with the LRA Advocacy Team to promote good public policy that benefits Louisiana’s restaurant industry—the state’s largest employer of 216,000 residents.
The 2018 Chair’s Leadership Award recipient is Rocky Keeley of Mr. Gatti’s Pizza in Sulphur. Keeley joined the LRA Board of Directors in 1993. After 25 years of service to the LRA, he will enter honorary emeritus director status in 2019.
“On behalf of the LRA, I am honored to recognize these award winners and commend them for the work they do not only for their individual businesses, but also for the association and the restaurant and hospitality industries,” said LRA Chair Rob King.