Industry professionals gathered as the Restaurant Association of Metropolitan Washington (RAMW) announced the finalists for the 2021 RAMMY Awards. Recognizing that it would not be fair to assess the industry on performance in 2020, RAMW, the esteemed panel of RAMMYS judges, and the 2021 RAMMYS Chairs Committee, created timely categories that speak to all the ways the region’s industry uniquely met those challenges. Also unique to this year, membership was not a prerequisite for nomination and nearly half of the honors bestowed will be voted on by the public. (Get ready to vote for these categories online from Monday, August 2, to Thursday, September The 2021 RAMMY Awards Finalists are (*publicly voted category*): Managers of the Year: Every year The RAMMYS honor a few finalists and one winner as the Manager of the Year. Looking back at 2020, every manager across the region worked so hard to support employees, to execute Covid safety plans, to implement new regulations and restrictions overnight, and in many different phases. This was the most challenging year for operations and every manager is a hero. Managers within this category are highlighted with stories of those who really went above and beyond. Otgontuya Davaasuren, All Set Restaurant & Bar Khawla Gasmi, Bayou Bakery, Coffee Bar, & Eatery Autumn Harriger, Destination Unknown Restaurants/Espita Jordan Lee, Thamee Restaurant Tylyn Mallon, Right Proper Brewing Company Brian McGahey, Modena Restaurant Gilbert Mejia, Nobu DC Robert Micheli, Dirty Habit Daurio Passaia, Fogo de Chao Brazilian Steakhouse Karina Wilkey, Sunnyside Restaurant Group Employees of the Year: Looking back at 2020, every employee across the region worked so hard to keep guests safe and comfortable, to provide a positive dining experience whether at the restaurant or at home. Employees navigated so much, learned new protocols seemingly daily, and did it all with a smile albeit under their masks. They all deserve applause, but this category will help tell the stories of a few who were anchors of the industry and helped their fellow employees keep going through a hard year, but doing what they love. Gabriela Araujo, Bresca Ruben Avila, PassionFish Reston Freddy Bastidas, Blue Duck Tavern Adrian Godinez, RPM Italian Rosa Martinez, Alta Strada & Nama Mileyda Montezuma, Immigrant Food Fredy Nataren, Tryst Trading Co. Celina Nava, Estadio Alicia Ramos, Convivial Maria Serrano, Sababa Formal Fine Dining in a Box: While everyone depended on and appreciated delicious takeout and delivery from local restaurants this past year, we definitely missed those special occasions to get a little dressed up and experience the finest service, ambiance, and incredible food and wine. These formal fine dining nominees took on a great challenge and demonstrated how special and celebratory a meal in a takeout package can still be. Brasserie Liberté Bresca Chloe Cranes Fiola Mintwood Place Rasika Rooster and Owl Saund and Snyder The Dabney Most Innovative To-Go Packaging Game: From beautiful bento boxes to sustainable sippy cups, restaurants of all types strived to keep crispy food crisp, explore tamper-proof packaging, bundle meal kit components, and make everything look good along the way. These operations really demonstrated they had the to-go game down in 2020. Daikaya Jaleo Joe’s Seafood, Prime Steak, and Stone Crab Julii Oyster Oyster Rose’s Luxury/Rose's At Home Stable DC Sushi Taro Sushiko The Duck & The Peach Outstanding Covid-Safe Redesign (Indoors or Outdoors): When restaurants were able to reopen after the initial shutdown last spring, they came back strong with innovative ways to keep guests safe so they could enjoy dining out again. We’ve seen everything from plexiglass dividers to plastic igloos, outdoor lounges and glass greenhouses. Fine dining restaurants added grab and go windows, and operators redesigned the floor to function in a unique time. Here are some standout redesigns created to keep guests and employees safe. Ben’s Chili Bowl Clarity Clyde’s Restaurant Group Equinox Restaurant Fiola Mare Glover Park Grill HalfSmoke Maydan St. Anselm The Park at 14th Most Impressive Pivot to Provisions or Market: Acting fast to keep the business afloat, many restaurant operators shifted their focus to operate as neighborhood markets with groceries, provisions packages, and basic supplies available for takeout, curbside pickup, or delivery. From their fresh baked bread to paper towels, and from meal kits and meat to pasta sauce and cleaning products, restaurants became a go-to for many homebound people early on in the pandemic shutdown, and many kept it going throughout the year. These nominees had exemplary pivots as they packaged provisions. ANXO Cidery Bar Charley, El Chucho, and Little Coco’s Coconut Club Founding Farmers Hank’s Oyster Bar/Current Catch Neighborhood Restaurant Group Officina Seoulspice Thamee Walters Sports Bar Good Neighbor Award: Our local restaurant industry is known for being incredibly giving, and this past year many true community champions stepped forward to lead efforts that helped feed communities, support hospitality workers, show appreciation to frontline workers, and so much more. While nearly every restaurant and industry business stepped up in these ways, there were a few companies or individuals who not only supported, but also created and led one-of-a-kind programs and initiatives that made a big impact and engaged others to join their effort. Here are some of those hometown heroes. Individual Honors: Erik Bruner-Yang, Power of 10 Initiative Willa Pelini, Paola Velez, and Rob Rubba, Bakers Against Racism Anna Valero, Hook Hall Helps Mark Bucher and Medium Rare, Feed The Fridge Danny Lee, Support of Immigrant and AAPI Community Kevin Tien and Tim Ma, Chefs Stopping AAPI Hate - DC Jon Krinn, Chefs Feeding Northern VA, Taste of DC in VA David Guas, Bayou Bakery Soup Kitchen, BEAN-EFIT Micheline Mendelsohn and Spike Mendelsohn, National Guard Inauguration Program, and More Edward Lee, The LEE Initiative Company/Organization Honors: Coconut Club Immigrant Food Keany Produce & Gourmet KNEAD Hospitality + Design Little Sesame Peruvian Brothers Pizzeria Paradiso RASA Saval Foodservice World Central Kitchen *Outstanding Ghost Kitchen or Pop-up Concept*: Creativity flourished, out of need and innovation, and led to many chefs and restaurateurs experimenting with “Ghost Kitchens” and “Pop Ups” or restaurant concepts without a physical space. Many operators ran new food concepts out of their existing restaurants to meet the needs of what consumers had a taste for, or just to try out a new restaurant idea without opening a new restaurant. Ama Ami “homakase” DC Ghostburger Denizen’s Brewing Co., Sunday Gravy Fat Choi Hot Pot Ghostline/Social Beast Happy Gyro Little Sesame @ Sugar Fox June Shababi The Red Hen - French Hen *Coolest Cocktails and Beverages To-Go*: Cocktails to go may be, hands down, the coolest trend born out of necessity in 2020, and restaurants and their very talented bar teams had fun creating unique beverage pairings with to-go menus, curated cocktails in jars, pouches, and batched for the weekend. And then there were beautiful cocktail kits that made you feel like a star mixologist at home. These nominees had the coolest overall cocktails and beverages to-go program rocking in 2020. Astoria Barmini Cactus Cantina Capo Delicatessen Jack Rose Dining Saloon Napoli Pasta Bar Serenata Service Bar Seven Reasons Tiger Fork *Standout Family Meal Packages To-Go*: Restaurant guests were stuck at home quite a bit last year and after the sourdough starters and project cooking fads wore off, they just needed to feed a family of four dinner in a flash. They turned to their local restaurants for easy takeout options and restaurants delivered with wholesome and delicious family meal dinners packaged for two, four, or six with all the favorites to keep families happy and coming back for convenience and smiles. These restaurants had some of the region’s top family meal menus. Albi Cork Wine Bar & Market Liberty Tavern Muchas Gracias Oohh’s & Aahh’s Pennyroyal Station Ristorante i Ricchi Taco Bamba Thompson Italian Unconventional Diner *Prime Pandemic Patio Scene*: Dining al fresco has always been fun, but 2020 proved that it was also a lifeline for restaurants and a go-to for diners. Whether it was for a summer dinner delight or a dead of winter bring-your-own-blanket our local restaurants strived to create incredible outdoor dining experiences for guests. These nominees had some of the area’s most desirable outdoor dining digs. Caboose Brewing Co. Hi-Lawn Hook Hall La Famosa Lauriol Plaza Le Diplomate Lulu’s Winegarden Mercy Me The Salt Line *Technology Trailblazers*: Restaurants had to act very fast to get their technology game going to support virtual menus, online ordering, contactless ordering and pickup, delivery platforms, group ordering as neighborhood’s looked to support restaurants, and even air purification technology. This was no small feat. While all restaurants navigated these waters, these nominees utilized technology in very unique ways to support customer experiences or embrace safety precautions. DC To Go-Go Ensemble GoTab Great American Restaurants Rumi’s Kitchen Silver Diner Stellina Pizzeria The Roost Think Food Group TTT *Splendid Holidays at Home Offerings*: The holiday season had a different feel in 2020 as so many stayed local, kept it small, and looked for a little dining decadence to-go to make their holidays sparkle at home. There were a lot of holidays spent at home last year, but from Thanksgiving through New Year’s Eve, local restaurants went all out to create celebratory menus with all the bells and whistles, and some even came with a show! Here are some shining stars who helped guests have memorable holidays at home. Centrolina Chef Geoff’s Ellē Et Voila! JACKIE Kinship Lebanese Taverna Punjab Grill Ridgewells Catering Royal *Festive Foodie Experiences*: Virtual programming was THE programming in 2020 and we saw so many creative ways in which restaurants produced dinner and a live music performance, virtual cooking classes, interactive activities for kids, interactive cooking kits, virtual trivia nights, remote wine tastings, mezcal master classes and so much more. These local restaurants and foodservice businesses had some true highlights of the year. Baker’s Daughter, CSA Box Cooking Classes Carlie Steiner, Various Virtual Classes Catoctin Creek, The Art of the Cocktail Eric Adjepong, Cooking with Eric Eva Kronenburg, YouTube Cooking Series Louise Salas and Gina Chersevani, Designated Drinker Show Kwame Onwuachi, Eat Clean While Quarantined Mess Hall DC, Some Disassembly Required Sticky Fingers, Virtual Baking Classes Xiquet, Cooking with Chef Danny Lledó *Hottest New Sandwich Shop*: In the DC region, everyone was talking (online of course) about sandwiches. They were the focus of many a ghost kitchen, the pivot of some fine dining spots, and just part of the sustenance required by consumers to get through 2020. Whether it was burgers, subs, melts, breakfast sandwiches, tortas, cheesesteaks, or something in between, these nominees had serious sandwiches to write home about. AmperSandwich Bun Papa Compliments Only Fedwich Fight Club Itty Bitty Sandwich City Queen Mother’s Roaming Rooster Sandi Buns Your Only Friend *Stellar Brunches at Home*: The DMV really loves to brunch. The weekend brunch scene in a normal year is fierce and filled with fluffy Belgian waffles, bottomless mimosas, extravagant buffets, and bountiful eggs benedicts (with Maryland blue crab crabcakes of course). People were missing their weekend brunches last year and turned to brunch-at-home options to fill the void. Here are some nominees who packaged the brunch fun, complete with beverages (that you could enjoy bottomless at home if you chose to!). All Purpose - Navy Yard Call Your Mother Convivial Duke’s Grocery Farmers Fishers Bakers Feast I Egg You KitchenCray Seasons The Fainting Goat The 2021 Honorary Milestone RAMMY Award will be given to Glory Days Grill (25 years), La Chaumiere (45 years), Peacock Cafe (30 years), Pizzeria Paradiso (30 years), and Ristorante Piccolo (35 years), dining staples celebrating a significant number of years serving locals and visitors in Metropolitan Washington. Honorable mentions were also given at the RAMMY Nominations Announcement for Wine To Go Program and Sweet Relief, focused on pastry/baked goods to go. The winners will be announced at The 39th Annual RAMMY Awards Gala on Sunday, September 19, at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center. Visit RAMW.org for more info.