The pandemic forced the closing of many District area restaurants. Then there were those eating establishments that figured out a way to stay afloat. The Restaurant Association Metropolitan Washington (RAMW) has announced the finalists for the annual RAMMYS, an award given to restaurants in the metro area. Restaurant and food service industry folks engaged in a thoughtful process to create recognition categories that reflected the challenges the industry faced in 2020. Finalists were announced by NBC4 anchor Jummy Olabanji during a gathering at The Point, a Southwest DC waterfront restaurant. Winners of 39th annual RAMMYS will be announced on Sunday, Sept. 19, at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center.
“Each year, the RAMMYS honor the accomplishments of the restaurant and foodservice industry across the Metropolitan Washington region from the previous year, and as you know, it was quite a different year,” said Kathy Hollinger, RAMW president and CEO. “We know the road is long, the challenges are real, and there is continually more work to be done.”

There are more than 160 finalists in 16 award categories created by a judges panel and the RAMMYS Gala Committee. Individuals, restaurants and various food industry establishments comprise the group of nominees. All area restaurants were eligible to be nominated, not just RAMW-member restaurants and food service establishments.

“A new set of award categories were crafted to best highlight the ways in which you were innovative and took imaginative leaps of faith born out of necessity, but full of creativity,” Hollinger said to a room filled with restaurant and food service professionals.
Celebrating The Park at 14th, a Black-owned restaurant, being named a RAMMYS finalist in the category “Outstanding Covid-Safe Redesign (Indoors or Outdoors)” are (from left) Marc Barnes, owner of The Park at 14th, Shawn Townsend, director of the Mayor Bowser’s Office of Nightlife & Culture and Altmann R. Pannell, MPA, director of Government Relations-Mid-Atlantic Region for Coca-Cola Consolidated, Inc. The gentlemen were at the RAMMYS finalists announcement on July 26 at The Point restaurant. (Robert Roberts/
The Washington Informer)

Some of the creatively named categories are “Formal Fine Dining in a Box,” “Technology Trailblazers,’ “Splendid Holidays at Home Offerings” and “Outstanding Ghost Kitchen or Pop-up Concept.” Two District, Black-owned favorites, Ben’s Chili Bowl and The Park at 14th, were nominated in the category “Outstanding Covid-Safe Redesign (Indoors or Outdoors).” Also recognized are managers and restaurant employees.

A category was established to recognize restaurant efforts to feed communities, support hospitality workers and appreciate frontline workers. A 2021 Honorary Milestone RAMMY Award has been announced to restaurants that have served patrons for decades in the District area. Those establishments are Glory Days Grill (25 years), La Chaumiere (45 years), Peacock Cafe (30 years), Pizzeria Paradiso (30 years) and Ristorante Piccolo (35 years).
The announcement of the RAMMYS heralding the survival of restaurants came a few days before the District of Columbia and Maryland announced reinstating the wearing of masks inside establishments. The policy states inside of restaurants masks can be removed for eating. Some food service businesses including bars, are adding their own safety measures such as showing a vaccination card.
Chef Peter Prime weighed in on the reinstatement of mask-wearing mandates. Chef Prime and his sister Jeanne Prime own Cane, a Trinidadian cuisine restaurant in the District that won the RAMMY in 2020 for “New Restaurant of the Year” covering the 2019 year.
“As restaurant owners and concerned citizens, we are supportive of the new mask mandate. It’s imperative that we take all measures to keep our staff, guests and community at-large safe,” said Chef Prime who with his sister opens a new restaurant St. James, in a few weeks. “Given everything we are learning about the Delta variant, it seems like the right thing to do. While difficult for our industry, we see this as a necessary precaution that will help avoid further restrictions, which can be more detrimental in the long run.”
A complete list of nominees and information about RAMMYS public voting can be found on the RAMMYS website

Brenda Siler is an award-winning journalist and public relations strategist. Her communications career began in college as an advertising copywriter, a news reporter, public affairs producer/host and a...

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