Today the Beef Checkoff Program announced winners of the 2010 National Beef Beef Awards at the Annual Cattle Industry Conference in Denver, Colo. Each year, three restaurants are recognized for their efforts in menuing and marketing beef. This year's national winners included The Hitching Post I & II (Buellton, Calif.) in the "Independent Restaurant" category, Home Style Dining LLC Ponderosa and Bonanza Steakhouses (Plano, Texas) in the "Chain Restaurant" category and Red The Steakhouse (Miami, Fla.) as the "Innovator of the Year."
"Industry reports show beef dollar sales are up 10 percent. Thanks to foodservice professionals' creativity and passion for our product, beef has not only gained sales momentum, but also remains at the ahead of new menu trends. It is important that we recognize and thank establishments that are providing outstanding beef-eating experiences away from home," notes Iowa cattleman Scott McGregor, chairman of the Joint Foodservice Committee. "Today, we are pleased to honor three restaurants for their ongoing commitment to serve beef at its best — every meal, every day."
Owner and Manager Frank Ostini was flattered to accept the award for the "Independent Restaurant" category on behalf of his family's restaurants, The Hitching Post I and II. "Our restaurants have been serving patrons high-quality beef for almost 60 years. Dedication to tradition and attention to preparation make our steaks truly exceptional. By using both old and new methods of beef preparation we have developed an exciting menu which is uniquely our own," says Ostini.
The Hitching Post delivers on its promise to give its guests expertly-cooked, delicious steaks. "We work with simple preparation methods indigenous to this part of California. Our basic seasoning and open-fire cooking method allows the steak to speak for itself," Ostini explains. Their patrons appreciate the "magic" their preparation method produces. The Oakwood smoked flavor and caramelized crust bring customers back for more.
On behalf of the Ponderosa and Bonanza Steakhouse restaurant chain, Homestyle Dining LLC was delighted to receive the "Chain Restaurant" National Beef Backer Award. Headquartered in Plano, Texas, Homestyle Dining LLC and its affiliated companies own, operate and franchise Ponderosa and Bonanza Steakhouses throughout the United States and around the world, proudly continuing a tradition of family-focused steakhouses that began in 1963. Over the past 48 years, the Ponderosa and Bonanza Steakhouses chain has grown to more than 230 locations in 15 states and in 6 countries outside of the United States. Jon Rice, executive vice president and chief marketing officer, says, "Homestyle Dining LLC is extremely honored to accept this award on behalf of the entire Ponderosa and Bonanza Steakhouses chain. We believe a delicious steak dinner should be affordable for the everyday family."
In the summer of 2010, Homestyle Dining LLC, with the support of Ponderosa and Bonanza franchisees across the country, launched a system-wide retail campaign in the United States offering a free 6-ounce sirloin with the purchase of a regular adult dinner buffet. The campaign helped boost steak sales at Ponderosa and Bonanza and was perfectly aligned with the chain's messaging on providing great food at a great value to its customers – a free steak dinner – how much better could it get?
Red The Steakhouse took home the "Innovator of the Year" title. Executive Chef Peter Vauthy says, "We like to think of beef as a partner in our business rather than just a product. We are so proud to be recognized for something that we consider an integral part of who we are as an operation." Vauthy attributes Red The Steakhouse's success to its cutting edge menu and excellent quality ingredients. "Red The Steakhouse only uses the highest quality beef, for every dish from meatballs to made-to-order steak tartare, we want the quality of our food to match the integrity and intensity of what we do here. We want our wait staff to feel empowered by the product they offer, you can hear the pride in their voice when we talk about the food we serve, where it came from and the relationship we have with our purveyor."
Red The Steakhouse is constantly offering fun twists on traditional steaks. "We have a bone-in filet that our patrons love and for Valentine's Day we are having our porterhouse specially butchered into the shape of a heart," Vauthy remarks.
Restaurant operators interested in entering the 2011 Beef Backer contest should contact their state beef council.