Restaurant Awards You Should Apply to in 2017

February 24, 2017 Andrea Victory


With all of the tasks on your to-do list as a busy restaurateur, and all of the obstacles you face on any given day – it sure feels like you should get an award. Besides the fame and glory of being rewarded for doing what you love, a restaurant award can mean more than just an ego boost. Public recognition for your skill and talent (or that of your staff) can open up new opportunities and bring in new business.


Here’s a list of awards to apply for this year. Read on to find out everything from what they are, what they recognize, to when the deadlines are.


James Beard Restaurant Awards

The James Beard Awards are some of the most prestigious in the country and a lot of fanfare is made in the food community when the winners are announced.


What are the awards? There are numerous awards given for a variety of food-related topics, including chefs, restaurants, cookbooks, journalism and media, restaurant design, and special achievements.


When to apply: Given that the James Beard awards are one of the most respected food-industry recognitions in the world, competition is fierce because anyone can enter. Make sure to sign up for their newsletter to get updates on the process as it happens.


How’s it judged? There is a special committee of judges for each category, all experts in their respective fields. Judges review each entry then cast their votes using secret ballots. The process is overseen by an independent accounting firm and winners will be announced on Monday, May 1, at the Lyric Opera of Chicago during the James Beard Awards Gala.


Restaurant Spotlight Awards

In its first year, the Restaurant Spotlight Awards recognize exceptional people in the restaurant space. For now, the spotlight awards are specific to New York, but keep an eye on the program as it will expand to other major metros.


What are the awards? There are four awards: The Executive Award for exceptional owners, The Service Excellence Award for service staff, The Restaurant of the Year Award for the best restaurant in New York State, and The Rising Star Award for new restaurants.


When to apply: Nominations will be accepted from February 1st to March 10th.


How’s it judged? A public Voting Period will run from March 11 to March 31 to define the top 25 contestants. Then from those 25, a panel of judges will decide on the finalists for each category. Winners will be announced on May 1, 2017.



Eater is an online publication that covers food and dining trends across twenty three cities in the US. Each year they run an awards program for each city.


What are the awards? Annual awards that recognize restaurants by city across the US. Additionally, their National Awards recognize chefs and restaurants across the country for things like, Chef of the Year, Empire Builder of the Year, and Actually Doing Something About it Award. Check out last year’s winners to get a feel for 2017’s turnout.


When to apply: The awards are announced in late November, and as of the time of writing, there is not yet a 2017 awards website. But stay tuned, and sometime late summer, check Eater’s website for updates.


Whether you end up taking home the gold, or not, putting your restaurant out there to be judged and part of a new scene is great for both experience and networking. If you believe what you do at your restaurant is “award winning”, then go for it and apply for one or all awards available to you – what’s stopping you?


Read 2017 Competitions for Bartenders 


About the Author

Andrea Victory

Andrea is a Content Marketing Specialist and Editor at TouchBistro where she writes about restaurant and dining trends, restaurant management, and food culture. A self-affirmed food geek, Andrea devours cookbooks and food blogs. She also knows how to make a killer kale salad.

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