Four members of Oregon’s foodservice and lodging industry have been selected for the statewide 2018 Hospitality Industry Awards as announced by Oregon Restaurant & Lodging Association (ORLA). Dave Thomason (Thomason Hospitality Group LLC, Grants Pass) was named Restaurateur of the Year; Doug and Becky Neuman (Neuman Hotel Group, Ashland) were named Lodging Operators of the Year; Kaarina Vera (Seaside Lodging LLC, Seaside) was named Employee of the Year, and Karnopp Peterson LLP (Bend) was named Allied Partner of the Year.
The recipients of these awards will be recognized among their peers and over 300 delegates of ORLA’s Convention during the Hospitality Industry Awards Dinner on September 30, 2018, at the Embassy Suites by Hilton Portland – Washington Square, in Tigard, Oregon.
“Oregon’s hospitality industry is teeming with individuals who contribute significantly to the health of the trade,” says Jason Brandt, president and CEO of the Oregon Restaurant & Lodging Association. “These winners represent not only some of our industry’s most dedicated leaders and advocates, but also the exemplary service that sets the high standard for the entire industry to achieve.”
Restaurateur of the Year: At 16, Dave Thomason started in the restaurant industry working as a busboy for the Carl’s Jr. chain in Anaheim, CA, and now has his own company overseeing 44 operations with a total workforce of over 600 employees. He has also been a very strong advocate of the industry having served 18 years as an ORLA Board Member and is a Past President of the Association. Through Dave’s leadership, experience and passion for hospitality, Thomason Hospitality Group has realized tremendous growth in recent years with no signs of slowing down. Taprock Northwest Grill opened for business in May 2009 and has been the centerpiece of Thomason Hospitality Group’s portfolio which also includes holdings throughout the state of Oregon for Elmer’s, Pita Pits, Human Beans, and Purple Parrots. Success isn’t all about growth and profits however. Dave believes their employees are their best asset and the greatest advantage over their competitors. He maintains that treating employees with respect values their individuality and empowers them to provide great service.
Lodging Operators of the Year: In less than two decades Doug and Becky Neuman have transformed Southern Oregon’s hospitality scene. It all started as a real estate investment when they purchased the dilapidated Ashland Springs Hotel in late 1998 and “brought it back to its glory.” Their passion for Oregon led them to expand investments, and now Neuman Hotel Group’s portfolio includes four hotels, three restaurants, tow spas and soon a Victorian home. The Neuman’s impact on Southern Oregon goes beyond economic development and job creation, they filled a need in the community by revitalizing properties that celebrate what Oregon has to offer. More importantly, they have created an incredibly supportive work environment for close to 350 employees, investing in training and benefits that attract and retain a staff that love what they do.
Employee of the Year: From front desk agent to manager, Kaarina Vera has proven that hard work, along with insight and being a quick learner can reward you with greater opportunities. When Seaside Lodging acquired ownership of the property where Kaarina was working the front desk less than a decade ago, they quickly saw her potential and transferred her to sales. Shortly after, she was promoted to Sales Manager for the Inn at Seaside – a strategic move for the Inn, as she helped double the sales. Kaarina’s exceptional performance directly contributed to the growth of the company which now includes four hotels. In her current position of Sales, Marketing and Revenue Manager for Seaside Lodging LLC, Kaarina continues to shine as one of the most “honest, ethical, sincere and efficient” staff members the company is proud to employ.
Allied Partner of the Year: Karnopp Petersen, a law firm in Bend, Oregon, operates with a simple philosophy, “do your best work and give back.” For Karnopp Petersen, it’s not just about resolving disputes or winning litigation; they want to be a “value creator” for their clients by designing legal strategies that truly fit their clients’ needs, thereby giving them the best chance at achieving their goals. ORLA saw the value in this approach firsthand with a recent lawsuit regarding local lodging taxes. “The lodging industry in Oregon was in need of a law firm that could prevail in our pursuit of lodging tax protections. Karnopp Petersen has and continues to be one of ORLA’s most crucial partners in establishing the appropriate ways lodging taxes should be spent in Oregon,” said Jason Brandt, President & CEO, Oregon Restaurant & Lodging Association. “We’re more than pleased with the service they’re able to provide.”
For more information on the Hospitality Industry Awards, visit OregonRLA.org/Awards or ORLA’s Convention, visit OregonRLA.org/Convention or call 800.462.0619. For press inquiries regarding the Hospitality Industry Awards, please contact Lori Little, director of communications, at 503.682.4422.