Record-Breaking CRAzies Gala Honors Sixteen Award Winners

CRAzies 2019
Chef Joel Lizotte (2nd-R) and team accept the CRAzies award for North Region Restaurant of the Year, for Present Company in Tariffville. Lizotte also earned Chef of the Year.
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The Connecticut Restaurant Association (CRA) hosted nearly 700 guests last month at Foxwoods Resort Casino to celebrate the restaurant industry and handed out sixteen coveted awards deemed “CRAzies”.

In addition to the record attendance, the association enhanced the event by adding a new nominating panel made up media experts and past winners. The panel members and more than 10,000 online public votes were cast to help select the CRAzies winners. 

“Our second annual CRAzies Awards Gala was another huge success for our association, as we were able to showcase the exceptional talents that our industry has to offer in Connecticut,” said Executive Director Scott Dolch. “Our goal is to build on the event each and every year in hopes that it will continue to encourage restaurants from all over the state to take part in this annual celebration.” 

One of the most significant awards of the evening was the Overall and Regional Restaurant of the Year Awards presented by Sysco. First, the association handed out regional winners from around the state and the four winners  were – Present Company in Simsbury (North Region); Grano Arso in Chester (South Region); Oyster Club in Mystic (East Region) and Jesup Hall in Westport (West Region).

CRAzies 2019
(R-L) Joel and Lani Gargano accept CRAzies award for South Region Restaurant of the Year for Grano Arso in Chester. Also pictured Chef de Cuisine, Chef Joe Roberto. Grano Arso also won the big award of the night, Connecticut Restaurant of the Year.

The overall winner who was named 2019 Connecticut Restaurant of the Year went to Grano Arso, who earned the award over the other three regional winners and sixteen total nominees. The Chef of the Year presented by Performance Foodservice went to Jeff Lizotte from Present Company in Tariffville, Conn. Lizotte earned the award over a stellar class of finalists, which also included – Arturo Franco-Camacho, Shell & Bones (New Haven); Joel Gargano, Grano Arso (Chester); Luke Venner, Elm (New Canaan); Joel Viehland, Swyft (Kent) and Ki’Yen Yeung, Tiger Belly Noodle Bar (Granby).  

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The Restaurant Newcomer of the Year presented by Brescome Barton went to Tavern on State (New Haven) and the Caterer of the Year was Mercado (Glastonbury). The Server of the Year presented by Siegel, O’Connor, O’Donnell and Beck went to Steve Yung from Restaurant Bricco (West Hartford) and the Bartender of the Year presented by Connecticut Distributors, Inc. went to Moises Ramirez from Ordinary (New Haven). The final voting award of the evening and new for 2019, Pastry Chef/Baker of the Year went to Adam Young from Sift Bake Shop (Mystic). 

In addition to the voted award winners, the Connecticut Restaurant Association recognized Helmar Wolf of Mill Restaurant Group as the 2019 Restaurateur of the Year presented by Datapay Payroll. Helmar owns and operates Mill on the River (South Windsor), Abigail’s Grille & Wine Bar (Simsbury), Market Grille (Manchester), Republic (Bloomfield), Republic at the Linden (Hartford), Untitled Bistro (Hartford) and Cal’s Wood Fired Grill & Bar (West Springfield). Captain Daniel Packer Inne (Mystic) and Modern Apizza (New Haven) were both inducted into the Connecticut Hospitality Hall of Fame presented by GoNation.

The Vendor of the Year presented by PowerStation Events went to Allan S. Goodman, which is a Connecticut based family-owned, full-service Wine and Spirit Wholesale Distributor based in East Hartford. Rounding out the awards was the Friend of the Industry, which recognized the Speaker of the House Joe Aresimowicz (D-Berlin/Southington) who has served in the Connecticut General Assembly since 2004 and who continues to be a vocal leader for the restaurant and small business community in our state.

  • RAK Porcelain
  • AyrKing Mixstir
  • DAVO by Avalara
  • Inline Plastics
  • Simplot Frozen Avocado
  • AHF National Conference 2024
  • Atosa USA
  • McKee Foodservice Sunbelt Bakery
  • Day & Nite
  • RATIONAL USA
  • BelGioioso Burrata
  • Epiq Global Payment Card Settlement
  • Easy Ice
  • Imperial Dade
  • T&S Brass Eversteel Pre-Rinse Units