by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

New RTD Sprinter Kicks off Coachella

New Vodka Soda RTD Sprinter Kicks off Coachella

by David Klemt

In partnership with GoPuff, Sprinter, the new vodka soda RTD founded by Kylie Jenner, is kicking off Coachella with a surprise delivery activation.

Available in four flavorsGrapefruit, Lime, Peach, and Black Chery—Sprinter is one of the newest RTDs to hit the market.

These ready-to-drink Vodka Sodas are made with just three core ingredients: premium vodka, real fruit juice, and sparkling water. Weighing in at just 4.5-percent ABV, Sprinters are intended to delivery bold fruit flavor in a sessionable format.

Sprinter aims to make a splash during Coachella, headlined this year by No Doubt, Lana Del Rey, Tyler the Creator, and Doja Cat. Anyone of legal drinking age in Palm Springs, Coachella, and Indio who places an order for Sprinter could be in for a surprise.

That surprise? A delivery of Sprinter swag in decked-out Sprinter vans, along with GoPuff swag. The delivery platform, which leverages “micro-fulfillment centers” to deliver orders quickly, is Sprinter’s chosen partner for this activation.

Now, if you’re an operator, bar or restaurant leadership team member, or bartender, you may wonder what this Sprinter promotion has to do with you. It’s simple: fulfilling guest expectations.

There’s little question that guests will be on the lookout to try Sprinter this summer. The RTD is owned by Kylie Jenner and will garner plenty of attention during Coachella. This will translate to nationwide (if not international) interest. Adding Sprinter to your menu may prove lucrative.

Check out the press release below for more information. Cheers!

Kylie Jenner Introduces Sprinter, A Premium Canned Vodka Soda

Launching nationwide March 21, Sprinter Vodka Soda features four fruit flavors, no added sugar and only 100 calories

Los Angeles, CA—Today, entrepreneur Kylie Jenner announces Sprinter, the ultimate vodka soda in a can. Made with simple, high-quality ingredients—premium vodka, sparkling water and real fruit juice—and created in four true-to-fruit flavors, Sprinter is a bold and refreshing new entry into the RTD space.

“Sprinter is my answer to the growing consumer demand for quality canned cocktails—we’re adding to a market dominated by only a few players with an incredibly delicious vodka soda in a can,” says founder Kylie Jenner. “Not only does Sprinter have a unique bold branding that captures the feeling of fun with your friends, it is also the best tasting vodka soda I’ve ever tried—and I’ve tried a lot. I can’t wait for people to taste it for themselves.”

Jenner tapped Chandra Richter, a female beverage development expert with over 20 years of beverage alcohol industry experience and a PhD in molecular biology, to serve as Head of Product Development and Operations at Sprinter. After over a year of taste testing, the duo achieved the perfect balance of flavors and Sprinter was born—a 100-calorie, 4.5% ABV canned vodka soda made with real fruit juice and with no added sugar, available in four fruit-forward flavors: Black Cherry, Peach, Grapefruit and Lime.

“It’s been such a pleasure developing Sprinter with Kylie,” says Chandra Richter. “We held numerous tastings over the past year to ensure each of our four flavors are as natural and true-to-fruit as possible. Sprinter is a mouthwatering vodka soda in a can that makes every moment an occasion.”

Bold, vibrant and eye-catching on the shelf, Sprinter will be available in an 8-can variety pack for an SRP of $19.99. Sprinter launches nationwide on March 21. To sign up for more information and to find Sprinter near you, visit @drinksprinter and

Disclaimer: Neither the author nor KRG Hospitality received compensation, monetary or otherwise, in exchange for this post.

Can image: Travis Rathbone

Bar Nightclub Pub Brewery Menu Development Drinks Food

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XO Night: A New Nightlife Tradition?

Rémy Martin XO Night: A New Nightlife Tradition

by David Klemt

A brand-new release from Rémy Martin seeks to not only solidify itself as a new way to start a night out but also prove Cognac isn’t an old-fashioned drink.

XO Night, the newest member of the Rémy Martin family, is dressed for a night out at the club. Just take a look at the decanter: black, mirrored, and adorned with holographic enhancements.

This is a bottle of Cognac meant to grab attention. There’s no denying that XO Night will stand out on a nightclub back bar. And as far as bottle service…it’s perfect for an over-the-top Las Vegas nightclub-style delivery.

In other words, this isn’t your great-grandfather’s Cognac.

Obviously, the House of Rémy Martin is aiming to alter the perception of Cognac with XO Night. Aesthetically, the bottle is clearly a departure from tradition. Further, by targeting nightlife specifically, Rémy Martin is signaling their interest in courting younger, legal-drinking-age consumers.

Cheekily, Rémy Martin seems willing to set aside tradition to appeal to the nightclub crowd. In fact, the storied Cognac house is taking a shot at changing the way people view Cognac and nightcaps. Rather than a sip intended to signal the end of the evening, Rémy Martin hopes people will choose to begin their night out with XO Night.

In terms of tasting notes, XO Night is XO, but dressed to show out at the club. Expect fruity and floral notes on the nose, and candied orange, spices, ripe plum, and roasted cocoa beans on the palate. The finish is classic XO: smooth, full-bodied, and long.

Personally, I think it’s great to see a Cognac house with nearly three centuries of history thinking about their portfolio differently. Keep an eye out for XO Night activations throughout 2024.


Rémy Martin Reinvents Night-time Celebrations with XO Night Uncapped

NEW YORK, April 9, 2024The House of Rémy Martin, announces the launch of XO Night, a new addition to the Rémy Martin portfolio that lives at the epicenter of night-time celebrations. Radiant, luxurious, and full of life, XO Night is the ultimate cognac of choice for those seeking a new opulent attitude to nightlife.

With Rémy Martin XO Night, the notion of a night uncapped takes on a whole new meaning. Unlike the traditional nightcap which signals the end of the evening, a night uncapped with XO Night signifies the night is just beginning. It’s an invitation to embrace the vibrant energy of the night, to savor every moment, and to revel in the possibilities that lie ahead. Whether enjoying XO Night at a high-end club, a lively rooftop bar, or a chic lounge, each sip of XO Night ignites the senses and sets the stage for unforgettable experiences.

“At Rémy Martin, we’re thrilled to unveil our latest venture into the dynamic world of nightlife. With XO Night, we aim to redefine the traditional nightcap and show how a night uncapped with Rémy Martin has endless possibilities,” says Nicolas Beckers, Chief Executive Officer, Rémy Cointreau Americas. “Through innovative rituals and immersive experiences, we’re engaging our consumers in unforgettable ways, inviting them to unlock new ways to enjoy the night.”


Rémy Martin XO Night dials up the party in a mirrored black decanter. Its signature solarised shape radiates light from every angle. Holographic flashes and UV details ignite it further, with a minimalistic design that pumps up the XO stamp and catches the Rémy Martin Centaur in action.


Rémy Martin will bring XO Night to life with activations throughout the year in key markets across the United States, including New York, Los Angeles, Las Vegas, Atlanta, and Miami. These cities are renowned for their dynamic nightlife scenes, making them the perfect backdrop to unveil XO Night and introduce consumers to a night uncapped.


New Rémy Martin XO Night joins Rémy Martin XO classic as a choreographer of celebration. Rémy Martin XO Cognac Fine Champagne is now dressed in two styles, giving you different ways to illuminate every occasion, day or night.

  • Rémy Martin XO Night. The new icon of night-time celebrations. Opulent, edgy and vibrant, XO Night is the go-to cognac for high end clubbing, friends and fun. This is XO dressed for the party.
  • Rémy Martin XO. Rémy Martin XO was launched in 1981 by our Cellar Master André Giraud. It was the first XO composed of eaux-de-vie coming exclusively from Grande Champagne and Petite Champagne, thus the first Cognac Fine Champagne XO.


Rémy Martin XO Night captures the creativity of generations. This Cognac Fine Champagne* is a testimony to the magic of assemblage. A rich and unique fusion of eaux-de-vie, the cognac reflects the Maison’s mastery of blending from Cellar Master to Cellar Master. The eaux-de-vie originates from the two prized central crus of the Cognac region, with at least 50% coming from Grande Champagne and the remainder from Petite Champagne. These are extra old, aged for at least 10 years.


Rémy Martin XO boasts a fiery mahogany hue with opal tones, offering a smooth, full-bodied experience. It entices with a powerful yet subtle aroma, featuring fruity notes like plums and dried figs, complemented by hints of honey and floral fragrances. The taste is an astonishing generosity of flavors, from fresh passion fruit enhanced by deeper notes of ripe autumn fruits (mature fig and candied orange) to spicy notes with a hint of nutmeg and freshly ground hazelnuts. The aromas of XO unfurl gradually throughout the tasting, finishing with gourmet notes of roasted cocoa beans, honey, and gingerbread.

For more information, please see HERE and follow along on social media at:

Instagram @RemyMartinUS | Twitter @RemyMartinUS | Facebook RemyMartinUSA

#RemyXONight #XONightUncapped


Vibrant, opulent and radiant, this exceptionally abundant, aromatic cognac is expertly blended from a multitude of eaux-de-vie from Grande Champagne and Petite Champagne, aged for at least 10 years. Rémy Martin XO Night is dressed for the evening, at the center of night-time celebrations, lighting up the party, the club and the fun.


Since 1724, the House of Rémy Martin has produced premium spirits that consistently appeal to the world’s most discerning connoisseurs. A profound love of the land, a continuity of family ownership and a passionate commitment to excellence has sustained Rémy Martin for nearly three centuries. As a result of its masterful production and generations of tradition in Cognac, Rémy Martin today produces Cognacs Fine Champagne, including Rémy Martin® XO Night, Rémy Martin® XO, Rémy Martin Tercet®, Rémy Martin 1738 Accord Royal® Rémy Martin CLUB® and Rémy Martin® V.S.O.P. For more information visit

*The appellation “Cognac Fine Champagne” is an AOC (“Appellation d’Origine Controlée” / Controlled Designation of Origin) and defines a blend of eaux-de-vie sourced in Grande Champagne and Petite Champagne, with at least 50% Grande Champagne.

Disclaimer: Neither the author nor KRG Hospitality received compensation, monetary or otherwise, in exchange for this post.

Image: Rémy Martin

KRG Hospitality. Bar Consultant. Nightclub. Lounge. Mixology. Cocktails.

by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

Triple Threat: A Bar Owner Master Class

Triple Threat: A Bar Owner Master Class

by David Klemt

AI-generated image of a record album cover that reads "Cocktail House"

Three of the most respected bartender-operators formed like Voltron in Las Vegas during the 2024 Bar & Restaurant Expo to impart invaluable wisdom.

In an attempt to prevent the trio from roasting one another, I’ll organize them alphabetically, by surname: Erick Castro, Nectaly Mendoza, and Travis Tober. And yes, I’m aware they’re still going to roast each other.

This triumvirate came together to co-present “Bartender Masterclass: Building Bars that Change the Game Yet Make Money.” An aptly named education session as it was certainly a masterclass.

Importantly, this wasn’t a how-to class on tracking costs. The trio didn’t pop P&Ls up on a screen and explain how to read them. Rather, they delivered the naked truth about becoming a bar owner and chasing success.

Bluntly, the reality is that Castro, Mendoza, and Tober are noticing disturbing trends in bar ownership. People going against their instincts. Hopeful owners accepting terrible deals in a bid to live their dreams. Setting the stage for failure with excuses. No talent as the new talent. A lack of understanding of the fundamentals.

Speaking of fundamentals…

With the jokes out of the way—these three won’t hesitate to spit a bit of good-natured venom at one another—this panel got right to delivering the truth.

Almost immediately, Castro addressed a grim reality. A lot of the panel’s friends and peers own and operate bars that are busy and winning awards. And they’re not not making any money.

When he asks to see their costs, he often hears that the owner doesn’t know that information. That doesn’t work for anyone among this trio.

“You need to follow the fundamentals to make money,” explained Castro.

Adding to that, Mendoza explained the situation succinctly. A lot of the flashy markers of success some bartenders and bar owners flaunt on social media and in their real lives are bullshit.

I can tell you with certainty that Castro, Mendoza, and Tober know their numbers. It’s obvious they have the fundamentals down, and they don’t take them for granted. The same can be said for the teams they build. Nobody’s career is long for any of their businesses if they don’t learn to respect and embrace the fundamentals.

At KRG Hospitality, we also drive home that the fundamentals are keys to success. There’s a reason KRG president Doug Radkey’s first book is subtitled Developing the Fundamentals for an Epic Bar.

There’s no room for excuses.

There’s more than enough on any owner or operator’s plate; there’s no room on it for excuses.

Yet, these three are noticing that many new bar owners seem to be piling their plates high with justifications for impending failure.

“For some reason, no talent is the new talent,” said Mendoza.

Justifications for refusing to learn the business like, “I don’t know accounting,” or, “I don’t know restaurants,” are excuses that lead to two things: more excuses, and the closing of bars.

If you’ve never had the opportunity to hear Mendoza speak, I’ll tell you this: He doesn’t sugarcoat anything. He’s a fun person, he’ll make you laugh, and he wants to see people succeed. Mendoza loves hospitality. However, when it comes to business, the jokes stop.

Let’s not forget that owning and operating a bar is a business. Bars need to make money to stay open. Bar ownership isn’t a reality show, sitcom or movieit’s stressful. Operating at a high level doesn’t remove stress completely, but it certainly mitigates much of it.

Crucially, embracing the fundamentals and rejecting the impulse to excuse mistakes large and small allows a bar owner to step away from their business eventually. Imagine being able to take actual week-long vacationspluralas the owner of a bar, without worry. That should be among every bar owner’s goals.

So, when Mendoza says bar owners need to have the guts to learn everything about the business, that’s not hyperbole. And when Castro, who now co-owns the recently opened Gilly’s House of Cocktails, states that someone needs to be genuinely curious about the business to succeed, you can take that to the bank.

Bet on yourself.

“I bet on myself,” said Tober during this panel. He meant that in both the past and present tense, by the way.

When Tober opened the first Nickel City in 2017, it cost nearly a half-million dollars. The goal was to make $800,000 with the bar in its first year. To say that Nickel City surpassed projections is a bit of an understatement.

It did $2.4 million. The bar now generates $3 million per year on average. The latest Nickel City outpost in Houston cost $1.3 million. On average, Tober and his tight-knit group pay back investors in 18 months.

On episode 50 of our Bar Hacks podcast, Tober “jokes” that he wants a Nickel City in every major city throughout the US. If you want to listen this conversation, here’s the Spotify link, and here’s the Apple Podcasts link.

Given how quickly he and his team lead bars to success, I won’t be surprised if a fourth Nickel City location opens by the start or middle of 2026. Further, I won’t be shocked at all if it’s the first Nickel City outside of Texas.

Again, his success is the direct byproduct of his belief in himself, and an understanding of bar operations that few can match.

It’s not the drinks.

Successful bar operators, embodied by the three who hosted this panel, know that they’re not in the business of selling drinks.

“We’re all in a relationship business,” said Tober. “It’s not about the cocktails.”

This is coming from an operator whose team puts more than 20,000 Frozen Irish Coffees across their bars each year. They’re the second-highest seller of Tullamore DEW.

And you know what else? Tober will give you that recipe. In fact, he’ll tell you that all you have to do is visit the Erin Rose in New Orleans and modify their recipe.

Tober will give you that recipeall of his recipes, if I had to guessbecause you could open a bar across from one of his and having his drinks won’t make your venue a threat.

That’s betting on yourself.

Someone may be a better bartender than Tober, if one were able to put stats on the role. But Tober won’t be bothered, confident in the knowledge that they won’t tend bars better.

Setting ego aside, Tober told the room at Bar & Restaurant Expo that about once every three months, he reminds his team that he’s a C student and a college dropout. People could easily write him off as just some loud bar guy.

However, he knows the bar business in general and his bars in particular at the highest level. And he knows that he’s the guy people would like to sit down with to have a beer and a shot. As he told that room in Las Vegas, he gets by on his personality. That personality bleeds into the heart and soul of his concepts and informs the level of service and hospitality that makes everyone feel welcome.

As important, Tober also feels that bar owners are in the entertainment business. He ensures that he and his team give guests a reason to want to visit and hand over their money.

Trust your instincts.

Let’s trek back all the way to the point about some of the world’s most-awarded bars not making any money.

In some instances, it’s more accurate to say that the well-known bartender-operator isn’t getting paid. Yet another way to frame such a situation is to refer to the bartender-operator as the face of the bar.

I say they’re the face because their ownership stake is likely under 25 percent. In fact, it’s probably 20 percent or lower. The controlling stake is owned by one or more investors.

So, the bartender-operator’s vision has turned to brick-and-mortar. Their hard work turning their dream to reality is resulting in traffic, media coverage, and awards. But they’re also taking on all the stress of everyday operation while most likely struggling to pay their own bills.

They haven’t attained their dreamthey’ve gotten a job. Worse, it’s an incredibly stressful job, and they’re not being compensated properly.

Driving home this point was an interaction between an audience member and Mendoza.

Would you take this deal?

This future bar owner (assumedly, and hopefully) was asking about seeking funding through investors. It was revealed that the project would likely cost around $600,000.

So, illustrating how easily a person may be tempted to leap into a bad deal to have what they think is their dream, Mendoza said he could fund that project (hypothetically). However, he would want 87-percent ownership in exchange (again, this was hypothetical). Mendoza went on to guess that the audience member and his partners would take that dealand that they absolutely shouldn’t, because it’s a terrible offer.

Rationally, most of us would know that’s a bad deal and that we should walk away. That includes the audience member who interacted with Mendoza.

But we can all be susceptible to the “lizard brain” inside us. This is the portion of our brain that causes us to act on emotions rather than logic. There’s your dream! Your heart is pumping so hard you can hear it thumping in your ears. All you have to do is sign and it’s “yours,” at the cost of 80 percent or more of its ownership.

If a deal seems off, trust your instincts, walk away, and seek the right partners.

When you do land the right deal…

“…take the fucking shot,” says Mendoza.

In this instance, “the right deal” means a bar within your budget, cautioned Castro. Buy what you can afford.

Mendoza owns and operates award-winning concepts Herbs & Rye and Cleaver — Butchered Meats, Seafood & Classic Cocktails in Las Vegas. He shared that Cleaver is the concept he envisioned first. At the time, however, he had the budget to build Herbs & Rye.

So, he built Herbs & Rye in 2009. He trusted his instincts and, like Tober and Castro, bet on himself. In 2018, he opened the doors to Cleaver.

Could he have blown his budget and built Cleaver first? Sure. And we probably wouldn’t have either bar and restaurant now had he not been pragmatic. The industry more than likely wouldn’t have Mendoza to share his wisdom and mentor future operators.

“Your first bar is your best work. It’s like your first album—raw and uncut,” Mendoza says.

When it’s time for a second location, create something different. Get a bit uncomfortable.

“I think there’s a big disconnect about what being a bar owner is,” says Mendoza. “Success will create the fastest path the farthest away from what brought you success in the first place.”

How many sophomore albums from artists receive critiques that they’re good, just not as good as the freshman release?

When you’ve got the fundamentals down, when you understand your business at a high level, you keep that experience and wisdom. Getting uncomfortable and taking on a new challenge isn’t as risky as it was with your first bar.

So, take the fucking shot.

Seriously, trust your instincts.

There’s an episode of Castro’s award-winning Bartender at Large podcast that every bartender and hopeful bar owner should give a listen.

On episode 320, released in October of 2022, Castro gave Moe Aljaff the opportunity to tell the story of Two Schmucks. Mere days after earning the number seven spot on the 2022 World’s 50 Best Bars list, Moe and most of the team left the bar.

The situation that affected the Two Schmucks team is more common than some would like to admit, unfortunately. It inspired the cautionary phrase, “Don’t get Schmucked.”

To listen to Aljaff’s story, follow this link to the podcast episode on Spotify. After you’ve listened to that eye-opening episode, consider giving number 236 of Bartender at Large a play. It’s a conversation between Castro and Daniel Eun, a bartender and practicing attorney. This link will take you to the podcast’s website, where this episode has been embedded.

Image: Shutterstock. Disclaimer: This image was generated by an Artificial Intelligence (AI) system.

KRG Hospitality. Bar Consultant. Nightclub. Lounge. Mixology. Cocktails.

by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

Salt & Straw Celebrates Earth Month

Salt & Straw’s Upcycled Foods Series Returns

by David Klemt

Scoops of Salt & Straw's 2024 Upcycled Food Series ice cream flavors

To celebrate this year’s Earth Month, innovative small-batch ice cream shop concept Salt & Straw is bringing back their Upcycled Food Series.

Last Friday, three returning flavors and two new creations hit Salt & Straw locations in five US states. Currently, the artisanal ice cream shop chain operates in California, Florida, Oregon (the brand’s home state), Nevada, and Washington.

Among other important operational elements, Salt & Straw is known for innovative, chef-driven flavors. This is, in part, due to the concept’s commitment to ensuring at least 20 percent of the menu is dairy-free and vegan-friendly.

However, the brand also shines a spotlight on sustainability and combating restaurant food waste. In 2023, Salt & Straw launched their first Upcycled Food Series. A key element of the LTO menu’s execution is collaboration. Specifically, collaborating with partners that focus on upcycling ingredients.

For example, the bananas Salt & Straw uses to craft one of this year’s brand-new flavors come from Urban Gleaners. That non-profit rescued bananas from grocery stores and restaurants before they were tossed out.

After doing some digging, I found that it’s believed about 40 percent of the entire food supply in the US goes to waste per year. That’s 60 to 80 million tons of food, wasted. Supposedly, 60 percent of the food supply goes to waste in Canada.

So, I think it’s admirable that Salt & Straw leverages Earth Month to expose the alarming issue of food waste. More importantly, the brand shows that a little creativity can go a long way to fight this serious problem.

2024 Upcycled Food Series Flavors

Returning Creations

Three flavors are back for the 2024 Upcycled Food Series.

  • Day-Old Bread Pudding & Chocolate Ganache: Urban Gleaners partners with Salt & Straw on this flavor, collecting bread throughout Portland, Oregon, before it’s thrown out or otherwise goes to waste. The result is an enticing layering of custard bread pudding ice cream and chocolate ganache, as the name implies.
  • Malted Chocolate Barley Milk: In collaboration with Evergrain, a business focusing on sustainable ingredients, this vegan option is produced in part using the spent grains from the beer-brewing process. Malted Chocolate Barley milk is a “malty, fudgy, ooey-gooey vegan dream. This flavor takes us behind the curtain into beer brewing and answers the question: What happens to the spent grains after they brew beer? The brilliant food scientists at EverGrain are revolutionizing ways to extract the immense nutrients left in the grain and using it in our everyday foods, like protein-packed barley milk. We churned this barley milk with cocoa, making for a dense and creamy textured chocolate base before drizzling in a homemade fig fudge that make those rich, jammy flavors pop.”
  • Salted Caramel & Chocolate Brownies: This returning flavor is also vegan and a collaboration with an upcycled food company called Renewal Mill. As described by Salt & Straw on their website: “Behold the ultimate trifecta of salty, sweet, and bitter thanks to our friends at Renewal Mill. Their chef-crafted baking mixes are made with okara—a delicate soy flour upcycled from plant-based milk production. We fell in love with their unbelievably moist and chewy chocolate brownies, baking them in our kitchen before generously frosting them with a rich caramel. These delectable treats are folded into a sweet bed of oat milk for a vegan flavor you have to taste to believe.”

New Creations

There are two brand-new flavors on the Upcyled Food Series menu for this year’s Earth Month.

  • Chocolate Caramel Potato Chip Banana Bread: Of all the flavors, this is the one I’m most eager to try. Salt & Straw expands their partnership with Urban Gleaners for this creation, this time tasking them with saving bananas. However, a second partner helps out to make this flavor possible. Uglies provides the potato chips, which are produced using “imperfect” potatoes. To craft this one, Salt & Straw roasts “bunches and bunches of bananas in honey and spices to make a jammy banana bread ice cream you simply can’t resist. Next, we coat “Uglies” potato chips made from potatoes with slight imperfections in the most beautiful chocolate possible and drizzle in a perfect ribbon of handmade caramel.”
  • Passionfruit Yuzu Mochi Donuts & Whey Curd: To create this flavor, Salt & Straw takes frozen yogurt and enhances it with The Spare Food Co.’s upcycled whey base. I expect powerful but pleasant tanginess on the palate from this flavor based on the website description: “Bright, acidic flavors with a decidedly delicious twist. Our friends at The Spare Food Co. are concocting drinks of liquid gold by working with Greek yogurt makers around the country and turning their whey, a typically overlooked by-product of yogurt making, into a super-drink. We lean into the yogurt whey’s natural pop of acidity and the unique flavor of their sparkling tonic by making a whey-infused frozen yogurt with a passionfruit-spiked lemon curd, and then fold in homemade butter mochi donuts glazed in yuzu frosting. This flavor sings on your tastebuds and makes you think of new wheys to use traditionally wasted products.”

Images: Salt & Straw

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by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

2024 James Beard Foundation Nominees

Cheers to the 2024 James Beard Foundation Nominees

by David Klemt

AI-generated image of a culinary award

One of these days, AI platforms are going to learn to spell, and then we’re all in trouble.

If there’s any question as to whether we’re in F&B and hospitality award season, we can safely say that the answer is an emphatic “yes.”

Our look at the 2024 Bar & Restaurant Expo award winners is here. This year’s TAG Global Spirits Awards have been revealed. And, of course, we eagerly anticipate the 2024 North America’s 50 Best Bars ceremony (along with the rest of the World’s 50 Best announcements). There are also the 2024 Spirited Awards this July.

On June 10, winners of the 2024 James Beard Awards will be revealed. Below, you’ll find the nominees spanning 22 awards categories. Additionally, you’ll find the honorees of a number of awards, including Lifetime Achievement and Humanitarian of the Year.

Interestingly, the specific chefs awards are split into a dozen categories, by region: California, Great Lakes, Mid-Atlantic, Midwest, Mountain, New York State, Northeast, Northwest and Pacific, Southeast, South, Southwest, and Texas.

This is how I learned that I in fact grew up in the Great Lakes area and not, apparently, the Midwest as I’ve believed for decades. Reality, shattered.

As far as the Outstanding Bar award goes, these are the nominees:

  • Barr Hill Cocktail Bar, Montpelier, VT
  • Clavel Mezcaleria, Baltimore, MD
  • Jewel of the South, New Orleans, LA
  • Las Ramblas, Brownsville, TX
  • Pacific Cocktail Haven, San Francisco, CA

The nominees for Best New Restaurant are:

  • Bar Bacetto, Waitsburg, WA
  • Barbs-B-Q, Lockhart, TX
  • Chez Noir, Carmel-by-the-Sea, CA
  • Comfort Kitchen, Dorchester, MA
  • Dakar NOLA, New Orleans, LA
  • Hayward, McMinnville, OR
  • Kaya, Orlando, FL
  • Kisser, Nashville, TN
  • Oro by Nixta, Minneapolis, MN
  • Shan, Bozeman, MT

Cheers to this year’s honorees and nominees!


NEW YORK (APRIL 3, 2024) – The James Beard Foundation® announced today its 2024 Lifetime Achievement, Humanitarian of the Year, and Leadership Awards honorees, and Restaurant and Chef Awards nominees in advance of the James Beard Awards® ceremonies presented by Capital One. The full list of honorees and nominees can be found below and on the James Beard Foundation website.

The honorees and nominees were announced today during a live ceremony at Waldorf Astoria Washington DC, co-hosted by Clare Reichenbach, Chief Executive Officer, James Beard Foundation; Rich Gamble, Interim President & CEO, Choose Chicago; Kris Moon, President and Chief Operating Officer, James Beard Foundation; Dawn Padmore, Vice President of Awards, James Beard Foundation; Nina Albert, Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development (DMPED); Adam Crocini, SVP and Global Head of Food & Beverage Brands, Hilton; and Monica Weaver, Head of Branded Card Partnerships and Experiences, Capital One. At the ceremony, Reichenbach made opening remarks highlighting how the Foundation is excited to celebrate outstanding achievement, while continuing to build on its mission of “Good Food for Good®” in support of the independent restaurant industry and broader food culture.

“Congratulations to all of our esteemed honorees and nominees on this remarkable achievement,” said Clare Reichenbach, CEO, James Beard Foundation. “Your vision, and continued dedication to excellence—both on and beyond the plate—make you true leaders of American culinary. Thank you for all you are doing to set a better standard for our industry and broader food system.”

“Despite so many ongoing challenges, this list is a positive reminder of the exceptional talent and dynamism of our industry—it gives me hope for the future of independent restaurants,” said Tanya
Holland, Chair of the James Beard Awards Committee and member of the James Beard Foundation Board of Trustees. “As Awards Committee Chair, I am honored to congratulate each of you
and look forward to celebrating together in Chicago this June.”

“It’s been wonderful to hear how Awards recognition has already benefited restaurants and businesses around the country. We look forward to continuing to use the Awards platform to highlight their impressive accomplishments and work in our industry.” said Dawn Padmore, VP of Awards, James Beard Foundation. “Thank you to our committee members and judges for their work, and congratulations to all honorees and nominees.”

The James Beard Awards, among the nation’s most prestigious honors in the culinary and food media industries, recognize exceptional talent as well as a demonstrated commitment to racial and gender equity, community, sustainability, and a culture where all can thrive. James Beard Awards policies and procedures can be viewed at

Achievement Awards

The James Beard Awards comprise three Achievement Awards: Leadership Awards, which awards five candidates and has a dedicated subcommittee and voting body, as well as the Lifetime Achievement and Humanitarian of the Year Awards, both of which are administered by the Awards Committee.

Leadership Awards

The Leadership Awards program recognizes achievement by individuals and/or organizations who are actively working to set standards that create more equitable, just, sustainable, and economically viable food systems for producers, workers, and consumers alike.

The 2024 Leadership Awards categories were created by the James Beard Foundation, with input from the Leadership Subcommittee, as a reflection of the Foundation’s policy agenda and its impact priorities for 2023-2024.

The Leadership Awards honorees will be celebrated at an invite-only ceremony in Chicago on Sunday, June 9 and recognized on stage at the Restaurant and Chef Awards ceremony on Monday, June 10 at the Lyric Opera of Chicago.

“In recognizing the myriad challenges of the independent restaurant industry and our broader food landscape, the James Beard Leadership Awards honorees stand as a beacon and inspiration for all of us who are committed to a more equitable and sustainable future,” said Lakisha May, Chair of the Leadership Awards Subcommittee. “We are proud to recognize the diligent efforts and dedication of this year’s honorees.”

The 2024 Leadership Awards honorees are:


Leaders who are advancing environmental sustainability in support of a better supply chain for restaurants. Their efforts may focus on healthy soil, clean oceans, sustainable fisheries, reducing food
waste, or regenerative agriculture.

  • Mai Nguyen, Farmer, Farmer Mai: Mai Nguyen is a first-generation Vietnamese-American farmer who began their career as a research assistant studying the effects of carbon on the atmosphere and soil. Wanting to make more of an impact, they focused their efforts on disaster relief and water sanitation projects for refugee camps in Southeast Asia, which opened their eyes to the broader implications of food security and sustainability. The child of Vietnamese refugees, Nguyen returned to their roots in California to support the diaspora community and advocate for equitable ecological food systems through environmentally beneficial farming practices. Nguyen specializes in site-appropriate and soil-enriching approaches to growing organic heirloom grains and Southeast Asian crops in Upper Lake, California. Through their leadership as co-director of Minnow, which works to secure land tenure for California’s farmers of color and Indigenous communities, Nguyen helps facilitate democratic organization for land justice. In 2017, in response to systemic discrimination faced by farmers of color, Nguyen helped pass the Farmer Equity Act in California, which acknowledges socially disadvantaged producers within the agricultural system and has created policies to advance equity.

Policy Advocacy

Policymakers or advocates who are advancing a Farm Bill and/or federal legislation or regulations that prioritize climate change mitigation, racial and gender equity, or industry practices that foster a more sustainable and equitable restaurant industry.

  • Niaz Dorry, Coordinating Director, North American Marine Alliance (NAMA): Niaz Dorry has played a pivotal role in steering federal legislation towards recognizing and supporting small-scale, traditional, and Indigenous fishing communities through her leadership in the North American Marine Alliance (NAMA) and collaboration with the National Family Farm Coalition. By advocating for policies that prioritize ecological sustainability and equity, she has helped to bridge the gap between land and sea food systems, emphasizing the importance of including seafood in comprehensive food system discussions. Her efforts to raise awareness about the critical role of small-scale, values-based fisheries in mitigating climate change and advancing gender and racial equity have inspired more sustainable practices within the restaurant industry. Dorry has been recognized as a “Hero for the Planet” by Time magazine.

Industry Culture and Practices

Leaders who have made a significant impact and are acknowledged and recognized as setting industry standards, with a commitment to transforming the industry into one that is sustainable and equitable. These leaders have put in place systems and policies that prioritize the physical and mental health of employees and themselves and have proven to make for a sound financial model for staff and owners alike that foster longevity in the restaurant industry. They are modeling how to make independent restaurants more equitable both within and beyond one’s own businesses.

  • Muhammad Abdul-Hadi, Founder/Owner, Down North Pizza and Down North Foundation: Muhammad Abdul-Hadi is the founder of Down North Pizza, a mission-driven restaurant that
    exclusively hires previously incarcerated employees. As an entrepreneur in property management, retail, and real estate development, Abdul-Hadi focuses on creating business models that offer both employment and housing to formerly incarcerated individuals. In 2015, Abdul-Hadi bought property in the Strawberry Mansion neighborhood—a predominantly Black and historically underserved area of Philadelphia marked by high recidivism rates. Abdul-Hadi’s aim was to use the property to offer subsidized housing to individuals negatively impacted by the criminal justice system but has expanded the building’s use with the opening of Down North Pizza. Abdul-Hadi’s philosophy of meeting people where they are—recognizing and valuing their
    experiences and skills often overlooked in traditional hiring practices—has not only contributed to the success of Down North Pizza but has also set a precedent for future enterprises that seek to combine profit with purpose.

Food Security and Access

Leaders who have advanced nutrition security, an issue that has directly impacted many independent chefs and restaurants, most notably through SNAP and SNAP expansion, community engagement, and beyond.

  • Helga Garcia-Garza, Executive Director, Agri-Cultura Network: Helga Garcia-Garza is the executive director of Agri-Cultura Network—a farmer-owned cooperative providing access to local and sustainably grown produce—and of their community supported agricultural program, La Cosecha CSA. For over 50 years, Garcia-Garza has been a driving force for food justice and a dedicated community organizer, working on both sides of the U.S./Mexico border. The daughter of an activist and a member of a marginalized Native Indigenous community, Garcia-Garza’s efforts are driven by her deep commitment to building an equitable and sustainable food system, empowering communities through education, and making healthy food accessible to low-income households. After spending 20 years as an organic farmer, Garcia-Garza now advocates for farmers’ rights on environmental contamination issues. Her work has enabled hundreds of families to access fresh, local produce using SNAP funds. Beyond SNAP expansion, her efforts in community engagement and education around sustainable agriculture practices have empowered both urban and rural farmers, contributing to a more resilient and nutrition-secure food system. Garcia-Garza is based in Albuquerque, New Mexico and is currently focused on building a multi-million dollar solar-powered “Eco-Wellness” clinic that aims to bridge the gap between sustainable agricultural practices and nutritional wellbeing.

Emerging Leadership

The Leadership Committee may select an additional honoree to highlight a person or collective who is at the beginning of their career but already doing significant work.

  • Christa Barfield, Founder and Chief Executive Officer, FarmerJawn: Christa Barfield is the founder and chief executive officer of FarmerJawn—a 128-acre working farm providing access to regenerative organic food production through a community supported agriculture (CSA) program, storefronts, and educational programs—and Viva Leaf Tea Co., a farm-to-cup tea brand. Barfield’s initiatives are designed not just to provide organic foods in areas of food apartheid, but also to educate on the importance of sustainable agriculture and healthy eating through on-farm and in-school programming. Her latest venture, CornerJawn, is a redefined corner store experience that makes fresh produce more accessible to underserved communities. With CornerJawn, Barfield is nurturing a movement towards sustainable living and conscious eating for all. Barfield’s work is making a significant impact on Philadelphia’s food system and offering a model for urban food justice and entrepreneurship. Barfield is a Generation Change fellow, Philadelphia’s Community Wellness Leader, and is recognized as a “Food is Medicine” and nutrition security champion by the USDA.

Leadership Awards categories may vary annually. More information on the voting process for the Leadership Awards can be viewed here.

Lifetime Achievement Award

The Lifetime Achievement Award honors an individual whose life’s work has profoundly and enduringly influenced how America cooks, eats, and perceives food.

The 2024 Lifetime Achievement Award honoree is the inimitable writer, editor, novelist, and television personality Ruth Reichl. In 1971, at the age of 23, Reichl wrote her first cookbook, MMMMM: A Feastiary. This set her on a path to prominence as a “make or break” food critic for esteemed publications like the Los Angeles Times and the New York Times. In 1999, she took over as editor-in-chief of Gourmet magazine, commissioning pieces from legendary writers like David Foster Wallace. Reichl’s captivating memoirs offer an intimate glimpse into five decades of her culinary adventures. Her first memoir, Tender at the Bone, helped readers to understand “that food could be a way of making sense of the world.” Reichl’s appearances as a judge on Bravo TV’s Top Chef and Top Chef Masters endeared her to a new generation of food enthusiasts, reinforcing her reputation as a culinary and food media icon. Reichl’s impact on the food industry has been recognized with seven James Beard Awards and the Who’s Who of Food & Beverage in America award, cementing her legacy in the food world as a leading voice and trailblazer for women.

“I’m so thrilled by this honor,” said Reichl. “Looking back, I can’t help thinking how much the world has changed in my lifetime. When I started writing about food, Americans paid so little attention to what and how we eat that the very notion of honoring someone for a career like mine would have seemed absurd.” More information on the voting process for the Lifetime Achievement Award can be viewed here.

Humanitarian of the Year Award

The Humanitarian of the Year Award honors an individual or organization within the food industry who has demonstrated exceptional selflessness and unwavering dedication to improving the lives of others and society as a whole.

The 2024 Humanitarian of the Year Award honoree is The LEE Initiative, an organization that promotes diversity, equity, and empowerment for employees within the restaurant industry. Founded in 2017 by chef Edward Lee and Lindsey Ofcacek, The LEE Initiative—an acronym for Let’s Empower Employment—is responsible for creating programs that advance women, amplify Black voices, and explore sustainable policies for restaurants. Known for its relief work, The LEE Initiative has raised over $5 million in direct aid and investments for small farms, Black-owned food businesses, COVID-19 support, and more. In 2021, Ofcacek and chef Lee were honored with the Muhammad Ali Humanitarian Award for their work through The LEE Initiative.

“The Lee Initiative is honored to receive the JBF Humanitarian [of the Year] Award and we accept it on behalf of every single restaurant worker who has gone above and beyond to ensure that the best of our restaurant culture stays alive and relevant for the next generation,” said Ofcacek. “Our work is rooted in community, collaboration, and a common goal to create a kinder more equitable future for the hospitality industry. We are honored to work alongside you,” added Lee.

The Humanitarian of the Year and Lifetime Achievement Honorees will be recognized at the Restaurant and Chef Awards ceremony on Monday, June 10 at the Lyric Opera of Chicago. More information on the voting process for Lifetime Achievement and Humanitarian of the Year Awards can be viewed here.

Restaurant and Chef Awards Nominees

The James Beard Foundation’s Restaurant and Chef Awards—established in 1990 and first awarded in 1991—is one of five separate recognition programs of the Awards. This Awards program celebrates excellence across a range of experiences, from fine-dining establishments to casual gems, and emerging talents to established luminaries.

The 2024 Restaurant and Chef Awards nominees are recognized across 22 categories. Winners will be celebrated at the James Beard Restaurant and Chef Awards ceremony on Monday, June 10 at the Lyric Opera of Chicago.

“The Restaurant and Chef Awards Committee extends its heartfelt congratulations to the 2024 nominees—an exceptional list of culinary leaders and teams whose unique contributions greatly enrich
our industry and broader food culture,” said Restaurant and Chef Committee Co-Chairs, Lauren Saria and Allecia Vermillion.

The 2024 Restaurant and Chef Awards nominees are:

Outstanding Restaurateur:

A restaurateur who uses their establishment(s) as a vehicle for building community, demonstrates creativity in entrepreneurship, integrity in restaurant operations, and is making efforts to create a sustainable work culture, while contributing positively to their broader community.

  • Mamba Hamissi and Nadia Nijimbere, Baobab Fare, Detroit, MI
  • Quynh-Vy and Yenvy Pham, Phở Bắc Súp Shop, Phởcific Standard Time, and The Boat, Seattle, WA
  • Chris Viaud, Greenleaf, Ansanm, and Pavilion, Milford and Wolfeboro, NH
  • Hollis Wells Silverman, Eastern Point Collective (The Duck & The Peach, La Collina, The Wells, and others), Washington, D.C.
  • Erika Whitaker and Kelly Whitaker, ID EST (The Wolf’s Tailor, BRUTØ, Basta, and others), Boulder, CO

Outstanding Chef presented by Hilton:

A chef who sets high culinary standards and has served as a positive example for other food professionals, while contributing positively to their broader community.

  • Sarah Minnick, Lovely’s Fifty Fifty, Portland, OR
  • Dean Neff, Seabird, Wilmington, NC
  • Michael Rafidi, Albi, Washington, D.C.
  • Renee Touponce, The Port of Call, Mystic, CT
  • David Uygur, Lucia, Dallas, TX

Outstanding Restaurant presented by Acqua Panna® Natural Spring Water:

A restaurant that demonstrates consistent excellence in food, atmosphere, hospitality, and operations, while contributing positively to its broader community

  • The Compound, Santa Fe, NM
  • Convenience West, Marfa, TX
  • Langbaan, Portland, OR
  • Mixtli, San Antonio, TX
  • Vestige, Ocean Springs, MS

Emerging Chef presented by S.Pellegrino® Sparkling Natural Mineral Water:

A chef who displays exceptional talent, character, and leadership ability, and who is likely to make a significant impact in years to come, while contributing positively to their broader community.

  • Fariyal Abdullahi, Hav & Mar, New York, NY
  • Janet Becerra, Pancita, Seattle, WA
  • Nikko Cagalanan, Kultura, Charleston, SC
  • Ryan Fernandez, Southern Junction, Buffalo, NY
  • Masako Morishita, Perry’s, Washington, D.C.

Best New Restaurant:

A restaurant opened between October 1, 2022, through September 30, 2023, that already demonstrates excellence in cuisine, seems likely to make a significant impact in years to come, and demonstrates consistent excellence in food, atmosphere, hospitality, and operations, while contributing positively to its broader community.

  • Bar Bacetto, Waitsburg, WA
  • Barbs-B-Q, Lockhart, TX
  • Chez Noir, Carmel-by-the-Sea, CA
  • Comfort Kitchen, Dorchester, MA
  • Dakar NOLA, New Orleans, LA
  • Hayward, McMinnville, OR
  • Kaya, Orlando, FL
  • Kisser, Nashville, TN
  • Oro by Nixta, Minneapolis, MN
  • Shan, Bozeman, MT

Outstanding Bakery:

A baker of breads, pastries, or desserts that demonstrates consistent excellence in food, atmosphere, hospitality, and operations while contributing positively to its broader community.

  • The Burque Bakehouse, Albuquerque, NM
  • Gusto Bread, Long Beach, CA
  • JinJu Patisserie, Portland, OR
  • Mel the Bakery, Hudson, NY
  • ZU Bakery, Portland, ME

Outstanding Pastry Chef or Baker:

A pastry chef or baker who makes desserts, pastries, or breads. Candidate demonstrates exceptional skills and can be affiliated with any food business and does not need a brick-and-mortar presence. Candidates contribute positively to their broader community.

  • Susan Bae, Moon Rabbit, Washington, D.C.
  • Jesus Brazon and Manuel Brazon, Caracas Bakery, Doral and Miami, FL
  • Atsuko Fujimoto, Norimoto Bakery, Portland, ME
  • Crystal Kass, Valentine, Phoenix, AZ
  • Anna Posey, Elske, Chicago, I

Outstanding Hospitality presented by American Airlines:

A restaurant, bar or other food and drinking establishment that fosters a sense of hospitality among its customers and staff that serves as a beacon for the community and demonstrates consistent excellence in food, atmosphere, hospitality, and operations while contributing positively to its broader community.

  • Crawford and Son, Raleigh, NC
  • Gemma, Dallas, TX
  • Lula Cafe, Chicago, IL
  • Melba’s, New York, NY
  • Woodford Food & Beverage, Portland, ME

Outstanding Wine and Other Beverages Program:

This Award is presented to a restaurant that demonstrates exceptional care and skill in the pairing of wine and other beverages with food while contributing positively to its broader community. This includes the selection, preparation, and serving of wine, cocktails, spirits, coffee, tea, beer or any other beverage with outstanding hospitality and service that help inform and enhance a customer’s appreciation of the beverage(s). Ethical sourcing and positive contributions to the broader community will also be considered.

  • Lula Drake Wine Parlour, Columbia, SC
  • The Morris, San Francisco, CA
  • Strong Water Anaheim, Anaheim, CA
  • Tail Up Goat, Washington, D.C.
  • Waxlight Bar à Vin, Buffalo, NY

Outstanding Bar:

This award is presented to a wine bar, beer bar, cocktail bar, coffee bar, or any other business whose primary offering is beverage and that demonstrates consistent excellence in curating a selection or in the preparation of drinks, along with outstanding atmosphere, hospitality, and operations while contributing positively to its broader community.

  • Barr Hill Cocktail Bar, Montpelier, VT
  • Clavel Mezcaleria, Baltimore, MD
  • Jewel of the South, New Orleans, LA
  • Las Ramblas, Brownsville, TX
  • Pacific Cocktail Haven, San Francisco, CA

Best Chefs presented by Capital One (by region):

Chefs who set high standards in their culinary skills and leadership abilities, and who are making efforts to help create a sustainable work culture in their respective regions while contributing positively to their broader community.

Best Chef: California

  • Geoff Davis, Burdell, Oakland, CA
  • Rogelio Garcia, Auro, Calistoga, CA
  • Lord Maynard Llera, Kuya Lord, Los Angeles, CA
  • Tara Monsod, Animae, San Diego, CA
  • Buu “Billy” Ngo, Kru, Sacramento, CA

Best Chef: Great Lakes (IL, IN, MI, OH)

  • Vinnie Cimino, Cordelia, Cleveland, OH
  • Jose Salazar, Mita’s, Cincinnati, OH
  • Sujan Sarkar, Indienne, Chicago, IL
  • Hajime Sato, Sozai, Clawson, MI
  • Jenner Tomaska, Esmé, Chicago, IL

Best Chef: Mid-Atlantic (DC, DE, MD, NJ, PA, VA)

  • Tony Conte, Inferno Pizzeria Napoletana, Darnestown, MD
  • Jesse Ito, Royal Sushi & Izakaya, Philadelphia, PA
  • Matt Kern, One Coastal, Fenwick Island, DE
  • Harley Peet, Bas Rouge, Easton, MD
  • Kevin Tien, Moon Rabbit, Washington, D.C.

Best Chef: Midwest (IA, KS, MN, MO, NE, ND, SD, WI)

  • Ann Ahmed, Khâluna, Minneapolis, MN
  • Rob Connoley, Bulrush, St. Louis, MO
  • Dan Jacobs and Dan Van Rite, EsterEv, Milwaukee, WI
  • Christina Nguyen, Hai Hai, Minneapolis, MN
  • Tim Nicholson, The Boiler Room, Omaha, NE

Best Chef: Mountain (CO, ID, MT, UT, WY)

  • Brandon Cunningham, Social Haus, Greenough, MT
  • Ali Sabbah, Mazza Cafe, Salt Lake City, UT
  • Matt Vawter, Rootstalk, Breckenridge, CO
  • Penelope Wong, Yuan Wonton, Denver, CO
  • Nick Zocco, Urban Hill, Salt Lake City, UT

Best Chef: New York State

  • Nasim Alikhani, Sofreh, Brooklyn, NY
  • Atsushi Kono, Kono, New York, NY
  • Chris Mauricio, Harana Market, Accord, NY
  • Charlie Mitchell, Clover Hill, Brooklyn, NY
  • Jeremy Salamon, Agi’s Counter, Brooklyn, NY

Best Chef: Northeast (CT, MA, ME, NH, RI, VT)

  • Conor Dennehy, Talulla, Cambridge, MA
  • Maria Meza, Dolores, Providence, RI
  • David Standridge, The Shipwright’s Daughter, Mystic, CT
  • Jake Stevens, Leeward, Portland, ME
  • Cara Tobin, Honey Road, Burlington, VT

Best Chef: Northwest and Pacific (AK, HI, OR, WA)

  • Avery Adams, Matia Kitchen, Orcas Island, WA
  • Kristi Brown, Communion, Seattle, WA
  • Josh Dorcak, MÄS, Ashland, OR
  • Gregory Gourdet, kann, Portland, OR
  • Melissa Miranda, Musang, Seattle, WA

Best Chef: Southeast (GA, KY, NC, SC, TN, WV)

  • Jamie Davis, The Hackney, Washington, NC
  • Rod Lassiter and Parnass Savang, Talat Market, Atlanta, GA
  • James London, Chubby Fish, Charleston, SC
  • Robbie Robinson, City Limits Barbeque, West Columbia, SC
  • Paul Smith, 1010 Bridge, Charleston, WV

Best Chef: South (AL, AR, FL, LA, MS, PR)

  • Valerie Chang, Maty’s, Miami, FL
  • Hunter Evans, Elvie’s, Jackson, MS
  • Gabriel Hernandez, Verde Mesa, San Juan, PR
  • Carlos Portela, Orujo, San Juan, PR
  • Arvinder Vilkhu, Saffron, New Orleans, LA

Best Chef: Southwest (AZ, NM, NV, OK)

  • Rene Andrade, Bacanora, Phoenix, AZ
  • Jeff Chanchaleune, Ma Der Lao Kitchen, Oklahoma City, OK
  • Steve Kestler, Aroma Latin American Cocina, Henderson, NV
  • Steve Riley, Mesa Provisions, Albuquerque, NM
  • Eduardo Rodriguez, Zacatlán, Santa Fe, NM

Best Chef: Texas

  • Emmanuel Chavez, Tatemó, Houston, TX
  • Christopher Cullum, Cullum’s Attaboy, San Antonio, TX
  • Tracy Malechek-Ezekiel, Birdie’s, Austin, TX
  • Misti Norris, Petra & the Beast, Dallas, TX
  • Ana Liz Pulido, Ana Liz Taqueria, Mission, TX

*As of the 2023 Awards cycle, the Restaurant and Chef Awards defines the annual eligibility time frame as October through September (formerly January through December) to allow the voting body more time to consider businesses opening later in the calendar year.

More information on the voting process for the Restaurant and Chef Awards can be viewed here.

Upcoming Awards Announcements

  • April 30, 2024: James Beard Media Awards nominees are announced
  • The 2024 Awards ceremonies will be held in our proud host city of Chicago on the following dates:
    • Saturday, June 8, 2024: Media Awards at Columbia College Chicago Student Center
    • Sunday, June 9, 2024: Leadership Awards at The Dalcy
    • Monday, June 10, 2024: Restaurant and Chef Awards at Lyric Opera of Chicago

Tickets for the 33rd annual James Beard Restaurant and Chef Awards in Chicago go on sale April 9 and can be purchased on the James Beard Foundation website. The Awards will be livestreamed Monday, June 10 on

“Our ongoing partnership with the James Beard Foundation is special in that not only does it allow us to provide our cardholders access to incredible culinary experiences, but it also gives us the chance to honor the best in the industry through the James Beard ceremonies,” said Monica Weaver, Head of Branded Card Partnerships and Experiences at Capital One. “It’s an extra special honor this year to welcome the nomination ceremony to our hometown in the Washington, D.C. area. We look forward to celebrating all of the nominees later this year and congratulate them on their contributions to the culinary industry.”

“Chicagoans know how special the restaurant scene is here, so it is an honor for the James Beard Foundation to continue to recognize that as well,” said Rich Gamble, Interim President and CEO,
Choose Chicago. “We look forward to hosting the James Beard Awards for another year in our great city with an impressive group of nominees, winners, and honorees.”

The 2024 James Beard Awards are presented by Capital One, the official credit card and banking partner of the James Beard Foundation. The James Beard Awards are proudly hosted by Choose Chicago and the Illinois Restaurant Association, and presented in association with Hilton, as well as with the following partners: Premier Sponsors: Acqua Panna® Natural Spring Water, American Airlines, the official airline of the James Beard Foundation, HEINZ, HMSHost, S.Pellegrino® Sparkling Natural Mineral Water, Stella Artois; Supporting Sponsors: HexClad Cookware, Skuna Bay Salmon; Reception Sponsors: Ecolab, Kendall College at National Louis University, Windstar Cruises, the official cruise line of the James Beard Foundation; Additional Support Sponsors: Cristaux, Paperchase, Plugrà® Premium European Style Butter, VerTerra Dinnerware. Intersport is the Official Broadcast Partner of the 2024 James Beard Awards.

For more information about the James Beard Awards, visit For up-to-the-minute news about the Awards, follow @beardfoundation on X (Twitter) and Instagram, and keep an eye out for posts using #JBFA


The James Beard Awards recognizes exceptional talent and achievement in the culinary arts, hospitality, media, and broader food system, as well as a demonstrated commitment to racial and gender equity, community, sustainability, and a culture where all can thrive. Established in 1990, the James Beard Awards are among the nation’s most prestigious honors recognizing leaders in the culinary and food media industries. The Awards are overseen by the Awards Committee. Each Awards program (Books, Broadcast Media, Journalism, Leadership, and Restaurant and Chef) has its own subcommittee members who volunteer their time to oversee the policies, procedures, and selection of judges for their respective program. All James Beard Award winners receive a certificate and a medallion engraved with the James Beard Foundation Awards insignia. For more information, subscribe to the Awards digital newsletter.


The James Beard Foundation (JBF) is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization that celebrates and supports the people behind America’s food culture, while pushing for new standards in the restaurant industry to create a future where all have the opportunity to thrive. Established over 30 years ago, the Foundation has highlighted the centrality of food culture in our daily lives and is committed to supporting a resilient and flourishing industry that honors its diverse communities. By amplifying new voices, celebrating those leading the way, and supporting those on the path to do so, the Foundation is working to create a more equitable and sustainable future—what we call Good Food for Good®. JBF brings its mission to life through the annual Awards, industry and community-focused programs, advocacy, partnerships, and events across the country. For the first time in the Foundation’s history, exceptional culinary talent, industry leaders, and visitors from NYC and beyond can experience unforgettable dining and educational programming at Platform by JBF—inspiring food and beverage devotees for decades to come. Learn more at, sign up for our newsletter, and follow @beardfoundation on social media.


At Capital One, we’re on a mission for our customers – bringing them best-in-class products, rewards, service, and experiences. Capital One is a diversified bank that offers products and services to
individuals, small businesses, and commercial clients. We use technology, innovation, and interaction to provide consumers with products and services to meet their needs. Through Capital One Dining and Capital One Entertainment, we provide our rewards cardholders with access to unforgettable experiences in the areas they’re passionate about, including dining, music, and sports. Learn more at and

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KRG Hospitality. Restaurant Business Plan. Feasibility Study. Concept. Branding. Consultant. Start-Up.

by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

Campspot’s Top Canadian & US Campgrounds

Campspot’s Top Canadian & US Campgrounds

by David Klemt

Small campervan made from VW Beetle on the side of the highway

Campspot helps campers, road-trippers, and adventurers select their next place to call home when traveling throughout North America.

Visitors to the Campspot site will find reviews and lists of amenities for more than 230,000 campgrounds.

Further, they select ten campgrounds across several categories for their Campspot Awards. Below, the top ten Campspot campgrounds for 2024 in Canada and the US. Oh, and there’s a bonus section for the five glamping sites that earned Campspot Awards.

However, I’ve done more than just share a few awards lists. In this article, I’ve also shared what basics and amenities these campgrounds have in common, and a number of standout features.

It’s important for current and future campground operators to know what guests expect, and what will make their visits memorable (in a good way).

Let’s check out this year’s award winners!

2024 Campspot Awards: Canada

  • Pathfinder Camp Resorts: Agassiz-Harrison, 4.6 stars (Agassiz, British Columbia)
  • Pinnacle Trails Resort, 4.4 stars (Yellowhead County, Alberta)
  • Sun Retreats Sherkston Shores, 4.4 stars (Sherkston, Ontario)
  • Village Des Écluses, 4.4 stars (Pointe-des-Cascades, Québec)
  • River Run Resort & Grill, 4.2 stars (Kingsclear, New Brunswick)
  • Dinosaur Trail RV Resort & Cabins, 4.1 stars (Drumheller, Alberta)
  • Yogi Bear’s Jellystone Park™ Camp-Resort: Kingston, 4.0 stars (Kingston, Nova Scotia)
  • Candle Lake Golf Resort, 4.0 stars (Candle Lake, Saskatchewan)
  • Logos Land Resort, 3.7 stars (Cobden, Ontario)
  • Pacific Playgrounds Oceanside Resort, 3.2 stars (Black Creek, British Columbia)

2024 Campspot Awards: US

  • Brialee Family Campground, 4.9 stars (Ashford, Connecticut)
  • Greenbrier Campground, 4.9 stars (Gatlinburg, Tennessee)
  • Jackson Rancheria Casino & RV Resort, 4.9 stars (Jackson, California)
  • Stonebridge RV Resort, 4.9 stars (Maggie Valley, North Carolina)
  • Ocean Grove RV Resort: St. Augustine, 4.8 stars (St. Augustine, Florida)
  • Paradise by the Sea Beach RV Resort, 4.8 stars (Oceanside, California)
  • Santa Cruz Redwoods RV Resort, 4.8 stars (Felton, California)
  • Canyon View RV Resort, 4.7 stars (Grand Junction, Colorado)
  • Verde Ranch RV Resort, 4.7 stars (Camp Verde, Arizona)
  • Sun Outdoors Myrtle Beach, 4.5 stars (Conway, South Carolina)

Amenities & Trends

When one takes a good look at both lists, a few commonalities jump out.

Most notably, the inclusion of the word “resort” in most of the above campground names. In fact, eight of the ten campgrounds on Campspot’s Canadian list feature the word. That number drops by just one on the American list.

This makes sense, of course. When people see the word “resort,” it speaks to an elevated guest experience. So, when people are making plans and searching for somewhere to camp, finding a resort may be a more attractive proposition.

One they’re there, though, what’s the actual experience? What are the amenities helping guests make their selections and, hopefully, converting them to repeat guests?

I took a look at each campground and found these in common, starting with the basics:

  • bathrooms
  • dump station
  • garbage
  • general store
  • Internet access
  • laundry
  • showers

Many campgrounds (or RV resorts) also feature experiential amenities:

  • availability of alcohol
  • arcade
  • bike rentals
  • dog park
  • hiking
  • hot tub / sauna
  • ice cream
  • pavilion
  • pool
  • playground
  • snack stand
  • sports (basketball, volleyball, fishing, paddle boats, etc.)

There are, of course, some more unique amenities, such as:

  • arts and crafts (Verde Ranch)
  • gaga ball (Logos Land)
  • golf cart rentals (Candle Lake, Sun Retreats)
  • mini-golf (Pinnacle Trails)
  • outdoor theater (Pinnacle Trails)
  • restaurant (Jackson Rancheria, Ocean Grove, Santa Cruz, Sun Outdoors, Sun Retreats, Village Des Écluses)
  • shuffleboard (Verde Ranch)
  • waterpark (Pinnacle Trails, Sun Retreats, Verde Ranch)

Bonus: 2024 Campspot Awards: Glamping

  • Blue Mesa Adventure Pods at Elk Creek Campground, 5.0 stars (Gunnison, Colorado)
  • Buck Hill Campground, 5.0 stars (Newland, North Carolina)
  • Jellystone Park™ Camp-Resort: Glen Ellis, 4.7 stars (Glen, New Hampshire)
  • Smokiam RV Resort, 4.6 stars (Soap Lake, Washington)
  • Westward Shores Cottages & RV Resorts, 4.2 stars (West Ossipee, New Hampshire)

Notably, the top two glamping campgrounds on this list don’t use the word “resort.”

Moreover, Jellystone Glen Ellis and Westward Shores feature dozens of attractive amenities. For example, both have access to a beach and a restaurant. Guests can also play laser tag, rent golf carts, access cable TV, and take part in arts and crafts.

At Jellystone Glen Ellis, guests can play mini-golf or enjoy a waterpark. People who enjoy boating will be happy that Westward Shores has a boat launch.

Interestingly, none of the campgrounds on the Canada, US, or glamping lists notes cornhole as an amenity. With so many offering horseshoes, I would’ve thought cornhole would also be available.

Image: Tiffany Bauer on Pexels

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by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

5 Books to Read this Month: April 2024

5 Books to Read this Month: April 2024

by David Klemt

Flipping through an open book

Our inspiring and informative April book selections will help you improve operations, refresh and streamline F&B programming, and learn more about coffee.

This month, we look at books covering an array of topics: overcoming dysfunctions within teams; stepping outside of comfort zones; cocktail and Irish dish recipes; and repurposing existing buildings.

To review the book recommendations from March 2024, click here.

Let’s jump in!


Perhaps unsurprisingly, it seems like most cocktail books target home bartenders. In a refreshing change of pace, Roundbuilding is specifically for working bartenders. In case the name doesn’t give it away, this book is about crafting and serving consistent rounds of cocktails and ensuring a high standard of service.

From Amazon:Roundbuiding is a practical guide to mixing cocktails, aimed at the working bartender. This is a book about ensuring that, for every round you serve, every drink is made to a consistently high standard, and that first sip always makes an impression. It’s the nuts and bolts of mixing drinks.”

Buy it today!

The World Atlas of Coffee (2nd Edition)

This bestseller enjoys a 4.8-star rating on Amazon with nearly 4,000 reviews on the platform. The World Atlas of Coffee also boasts a score of 4.4 on Goodreads.

Written by World Barista Champion James Hoffman (who’s also the co-founder of a successful coffee roaster operating out of London), this book will provide the reader with just about everything they need to know about coffee. The rise in popularity of cocktails like the Carajillo and the near-constant chatter about the Espresso Martini got me thinking: I should probably include a coffee book in one of these roundups.

From Amazon: “Coffee has never been better, or more interesting, than it is today. Coffee producers have access to more varieties and techniques than ever before and we, as consumers, can share in that expertise to make sure the coffee we drink is the best we can find. Where coffee comes from, how it was harvested, the roasting process and the water used to make the brew are just a few of the factors that influence the taste of what we drink. Champion barista and coffee expert James Hoffmann examines these key factors, looking at varieties of coffee, the influence of terroir, how it is harvested and processed, the roasting methods used, through to the way in which the beans are brewed.”

Pick your copy up now.

The Complete Recipe Writing Guide: Mastering Recipe Development, Writing, Testing, Nutrition Analysis, and Food Styling

This book isn’t even a year old but has already made waves. In fact, it was listed as one of Chef Eric Ripert‘s (Le Bernardin in New York City) books of the month just a couple of months after publication.

From Amazon:The Complete Recipe Writing Guide shows you how to create professional recipe content from development to publication. Raeanne Sarazen, a registered dietitian and chef, shares her expertise from over 20 years of working with recipes as a test kitchen professional, recipe developer, food writer, and editor, along with insider tips from top industry professionals. Like a master class on recipes, this comprehensive resource guides you through the variety of skills needed to create and share successful recipes.”

Get your copy here.

Bar Hacks: Developing The Fundamentals for an Epic Bar

This informative and conversational book written by KRG Hospitality president Doug Radkey is the perfect read for aspiring or seasoned bar, pub, lounge, or even restaurant owners, operators, and managers looking for that competitive edge in operations! If you’re looking for both fundamental and in-depth planning methods, strategies, and industry focused insight to either start or grow a scalable, sustainable, memorable, profitable, and consistent venue in today’s cut-throat industry, Bar Hacks is written just for you.

Pick up the paperback from Amazon today!

Hacking the New Normal: Hitting the Reset Button on the Hospitality Industry

Doug’s followup book to Bar Hacks! The world around us has changed. The food and beverage industry has changed. The hospitality industry has changed. But will some ways of life change for the better? Will perhaps the restaurant, bar, and hospitality industry come out even stronger? With the right changes to the previous status quo, it is possible. There’s no question, resets are major undertakings, but a major reset will provide us with a clean start and that’s what this industry needs.

Pick up KRG Hospitality president Doug Radkey’s second book today! Click here.

Image: Mikołaj on Unsplash

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Program for Unique Holidays: April 2024

Program for Unique Holidays: April 2024

by David Klemt

"Think about things differently" neon sign

Do you want to stand out from from other restaurants and bars in your area? Change how you think about your April holiday programming.

Several holidays are set against every date on the calendar, and this month is no exception. These holidays range from mainstream to esoteric.

Pay attention to the “weird” or unique holidays to raise eyebrows, carve out a niche for your restaurant or bar, and attract more guests. Why do what everyone else is already doing? Why program only around the same holidays as everyone else?

Of course, you shouldn’t try to celebrate every holiday, strange or otherwise. Focus on the days that are authentic to your brand; resonate with your guests; and help you grab attention on social media.

You’ll find suggestions for promotions below. However, the idea behind our monthly holiday promotions roundup is to inspire you and your team to get creative and come up with unique programming ideas.

For our March 2024 holidays list, click here.

April 5: Walk to Work Day

Operators who with bars and restaurants in walkable areas should leverage this holiday. People who walk to work should reward themselves by walking to a bar or restaurant for dinner and a drink after work. Of course, operators open for breakfast and dinner should encourage guests to walk in for a treat to start their day, and another treat (or two) to end it.

April 6: New Beer’s Eve

As the name implies, we celebrate this holiday the day before another holiday in the US: National Beer Day.

Operators who really want to help New Beer’s Eve gain a loyal following among their guests can bring in new beers for their guests to try on this holiday.

April 8: National Empanada Day

How would you rate your empanadas? How would your guests rate your empanadas? If you and your team are proud of your emapanadas, this is their time to shine.

April 10: Golfer’s Day

If you have Golden Tee in your bar, or you operate an eatertainment concept that revolves around golf, this is the perfect holiday to celebrate golfers. Of course, this also holds true if you operate a bar or restaurant within a community that loves golf.

You’re already (hopefully) your guests’ third spot; become their 19th hole on Golfer’s Day as well.

April 12: World Licorice Day

Sambuca, ouzo, xtabentún, absinthe… World Licorice Day is a great holiday for showcasing the licorice-flavored spirits in your inventory on your menu.

April 17: Blah Blah Blah Day

So, this day encourages people to try or start something that friends and family have been telling them do repeatedly. I would interpret this holiday as one during which to encourage your guests to try a new dish or drink rather than just ordering their usual again.

April 21: National Tea Day

Not only does tea make an excellent mixer for an array of cocktails, it really shines as the base for non-alcohol drinks. The depth of flavors that tea delivers really makes on impact on the palate and the guest experience.

National Tea Day is the perfect time to dial in your tea-based cocktails, be they low-, full-, or zero-ABV.

April 23: German Beer Day

Do you have German beers on your menu? I’m going to give you one guess as to what you should do with those beers on German Beer Day.

However, I have another thought, as well. There’s nothing that says you can’t come up with a creative LTO menu that introduces American or Canadian craft beers that taste similar to a German counterpart…

April 26: National Pretzel Day

Sure, you could just offer bowls of pretzels to guests on this holiday, providing a snack that goes with their beer.

Or, you could activate your kitchen team, make large pretzels in-house, and put pretzel charcuterie boards on an LTO menu. They may just prove to be a hit among you guests worthy of repeat appearances.

April 30: National Bubble Tea Day

Gee, if only there were a holiday that celebrates bubble tea, one that operators with bubble tea on their menu could build an LTO around. Oh, look! There is one!

Operators and their bar teams can also interpret this holiday a little differently. Tea cocktails and zero-proof drinks given the Flavour Blaster treatment? That could be rad…

Image: Ivan Bertolazzi on Pexels

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by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

Hey, Bartenders: Tales Wants Your Input

Hey, Bartenders: Tales of the Cocktail Wants Your Input

by David Klemt

Bar or restaurant worker on phone in alleyway with graffiti

The Tales of the Cocktail Foundation and the IWSR would like bartenders around the world to complete a survey for a research project.

Attendees of the 2023 event in New Orleans may be familiar with this initiative. Entering into what TOTCF would like to be a long-term partnership, the IWSR, Drinks Market Analysis is collaborating on the project.

As a refresher, the IWSR is known throughout the global industry as the standard in beverage alcohol data collection and research. For an idea of the insights the industry intelligence agency can provide, check out their 2024 beverage trends e-book.

So, what does this have to do with bartenders? Well, it’s simple, really.

At its core, Tales of the Cocktail is about a key relationship within the hospitality industry. Namely, bartenders and beverage brands. Traditionally, that has meant spirits brands. However, this relationship now certainly includes zero-proof brands alongside their alcoholic spirits, beer, and wine counterparts.

Given how important this inextricable connection is to the industry as a whole, it’s logical that the TOTCF is interested in understanding it on a deeper level. This is where bartenders (and bar and restaurant staff) enter into the TOTCF-IWSR partnership.

All Tales needs from bartenders across the globe is five to ten minutes of their time. That’s as long as it should take for bartenders to complete a survey hosted by the IWSR.

Anyone interested in participatingand it’s not a huge ask, in my opinionshould click this link to learn more. However, for those who require a bit more incentive than just helping Tales, there are two $100 Amazon gift cards up for grabs.

Spend a few minutes, maybe win a prize. Sounds good to me.

Additional Details

The main focus of Tales has leaned toward bartenders. But, as stated above, this survey isn’t exclusive to that role.

As the rules state, other bar and restaurant team members may participate and take the survey as well.

Bear in mind, however, that this survey closes soon. Anyone who wants to contribute to this research project has only until April 8 to do so.

Further, the findings of this survey will be shared at this year’s Tales of the Cocktail, which takes place from July 21 to July 26. Tickets go on sale on Monday, May 13, also known as World Cocktail Day. Mark your calendars!

Per the IWSR’s survey page, the survey is anonymous; answers aren’t tied to a participant’s personal information. Further, the IWSR’s analysis of answers will be at the group level, not individual.

If this all sounds good, please follow this link to participate:


Image: Gina Santangelo on Unsplash

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BRE Reveals 2024 Award Winners

BRE Reveals 2024 Award Winners

by David Klemt

Join us in toasting the fourteen recipients of the 2024 Bar & Restaurant Expo industry awards, which span three separate categories.

As you’ll see below, the BRE award categories are as follows:

  • One individual receives the Industry Impact Award. From BRE: “This award recognizes an individual who has displayed an immense passion for their craft and has helped make significant advancements in the field.”
  • Seven individuals or venues receive one of the Industry Excellence Awards. These awards focus on independent bars and restaurants.
  • Six brands take home on of the Supplier Awards. This category is new to BRE in 2024. Further, BRE attendees choose the winners after suppliers submit products for consideration.

Interestingly, Austin, Texas, and Atlanta, Georgia, take home the most Industry Excellence Awards this year. In fact, Austin is home to three of the seven Industry Excellence Award winners.

WATERTRADE is the winner of Best Cocktail Program, OTOKO is Restaurant of the Year, and Iliana de la Vega is Chef of the Year.

One individual and one venue in Atlanta claim Industry Excellence Awards as well. Best Hospitality Training Program goes to Your 3rd Spot, while the Ebony Austin of Nouveau Bar & Grill wins the Community Leadership Award.

There are, of course, two outliers. For 2024, Dominique Jackson of Realm of the 52 Remedies in San Diego, California, is Bartender of the Year. And Happy Accidents in Albuquerque, New Mexico, is Bar of the Year. This awesome bar is the 2023 winner of the Spirited Award for Best US Bar Team.

Congratulations to this year’s Bar & Restaurant Expo award winners! You can see the full list of winners below, organized by category. To learn more about the awards, please click here.

Industry Impact Award

  • Derek Brown (Positive Damage, Inc.)

Industry Excellence Awards

  • Bar of the Year: Happy Accidents (Albuquerque, New Mexico)
  • Best Cocktail Program: WATERTRADE (Austin, Texas)
  • Bartender of the Year: Dominique Jackson, Realm of 52 Remedies (San Diego, California)
  • Restaurant of the Year: OTOKO (Austin, Texas)
  • Chef of the Year: Iliana de la Vega, El Naranjo (Austin, Texas)
  • Best Hospitality Training Program: Your 3rd Spot (Atlanta, Georgia)
  • Community Leadership Award: Ebony Austin, Nouveau Bar & Grill (Atlanta, Georgia)

Supplier Awards

  • Best Alcoholic Beverage: Don Julio Alma Miel Joven Tequila
  • Best Non-alcoholic Product or Mixer: Ritual Zero Proof Spirits
  • Best Food Product/Producer: Oh Snap! Dilly Bites
  • Best Equipment, Tool, or Bar Supply: True Manufacturing
  • Best Technology Product: Draft Top PRO
  • Best Entertainment Product: Team Trivia

Image: Mathias Reding on Pexels

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