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Philip Hickey Jr., chairman of Miller's Ale House Restaurants, was named Monday as the 2020 Gold Plate award recipient by the International Foodservice Manufacturers Association (IFMA).

Phil Hickey Jr., chairman of Miller's Ale House Restaurants, receives IFMA Gold Plate award

International Foodservice Manufacturers Association honors the restaurant chairman

Philip Hickey Jr., chairman of Miller's Ale House Restaurants, was named Monday as the 2020 Gold Plate award recipient by the International Foodservice Manufacturers Association (IFMA).

Hickey, representing the chain full-service category, was nominated by the Coca-Cola Co. and was selected from a slate of Silver Plate winners in the award’s 66th year.

Hickey joined Orlando, Fla.-based Miller’s Ale House as chairman in 2013, when it was purchased by Atlanta-based private-equity firm Roark Capital Group.

Hickey has served in the restaurant industry for nearly 50 years. At 29, he co-founded the Cooker Bar & Grille concept, taking the company public five years later, and led the rejuvenation of Rio Bravo Cantina.

From 1997 to 2007, he was chairman and CEO of RARE Hospitality until it was acquired by Darden Restaurants, and served as chairman of O’Charley’s Inc.

Hickey also served the industry by co-founding the Georgia Restaurant Association and acting as chairman of the National Restaurant Association.

"It is an honor and one that I will treasure the rest of my life," Hickey said of the IFMA award in a statement. "The restaurant business is amazing. We've had a rough bit of sledding these past seven months or so — but we touch lives, we elevate lives, and make it better. Let's keep doing that together."

Hickey recently moderated a panel of Nation’s Restaurant News’ Norman Brinker award winners during a panel at Restaurants Rise powered by MUFSO. He was honored with the Norman Award in 2011.

The IFMA Gold Plate honoree was selected from Silver Plate nominees that represent various segments of the foodservice industry. The award, typically given during the Restaurant Show in Chicago in May, was delayed this year because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

In addition to Hickey, the 2020 Silver Plate categories and nominees included:

Independent Restaurants/Multi-Concept:

Joe Essa, president and CEO of the Thomas Keller Restaurant Group in Yountville, Calif.

Chain Limited Service:

Scott Redler, chief operating office and co-founder of Freddy's Frozen Custard & Steakburgers in Wichita, Kan.

Health Care:

Eric Eisenberg, director of dining services at Rogue Valley Manor retirement community in Medford, Ore.

Elementary & Secondary Schools:

Bertrand Weber, director of culinary and wellness services for the Minneapolis Public Schools

Colleges & Universities:

Zia Ahmed, senior director of dining services at Ohio State University in Columbus, Ohio

Business & Industry/Foodservice Management:

Victoria Vega, senior vice president for the specialty group of Unidine Corp. in Boston, Mass.

Retail and Specialty Foodservice:

Brandon Chrostowski, founder, president and CEO of the EDWINS Leadership & Restaurant Institute in Cleveland, Ohio

"True leaders shine through all challenges, and the IFMA 2020 Gold & Silver Plate Class will be remembered as our industry's bright north star,” said Larry Oberkfell, IFMA president and CEO, in a statement. “These eight professionals inspire all of us to do more and be more, leading our industry always forward.”

The Gold and Silver Plate awards are selected by previous award winners and a jury of trade press editors, including Food Management, Nation’s Restaurant News and Restaurant Hospitality.

IFMA is a Chicago-based trade association that has served foodservice manufacturers for more than 65 years.

Contact Ron Ruggless at [email protected]

Follow him on Twitter: @RonRuggless

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