The Northwest Florida Chapter of the Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association (FRLA) recently partnered with Visit South Walton and the Emerald Coast Convention and Visitors Bureau (CVB) to recognize the men and women who have had a positive impact on the area’s tourism.

Nearly 300 people gathered at The Henderson Beach Resort to celebrate those on the frontlines of the region’s tourism industry. Area hotels, vacation rentals and restaurants nominated more than 50 individuals for 12 categories designed specifically to acknowledge those making a difference in Walton County hospitality. The winners each received a plaque and $500 to thank them for their commitment to hospitality.

“Tourism is the state’s largest industry, and it’s certainly an economic driver here,” said Nick Lowe, regional director for FRLA and the event’s organizer. “A great experience brings visitors back again and again, and our honorees are the ones ensuring our guests have positive, memorable trips year after year. We are proud to honor these heroes for their service and impact.”

The 2019 Hospitality Heroes are:

Best Restaurant Manager: Jason Schiess, Great Southern Café, 45 Central Wine & Sushi Bar, Meltdown on 30A

Best Hotel/Resort Manager: Phyllis Shanks, ResortQuest by Wyndham

Best Culinary Manage: Chef Jim Shirley, Jim Shirley Enterprises

Best Front of House Associate, Restaurant: Angelia Anderson, Floyd’s Shrimp House

Best Front of House Associate, Hotel/Resort: Tamee Huggins, Henderson Park Inn

Best Back of House Associate, Restaurant: Jose Arias Jr., Brotula’s

Best Back of House Associate, Hotel/Resort: Eddie Gray, Newman – Dailey

Supplier of the Year: Heartland Payment Systems

Best Sales and Marketing Associate: Misty Rae, Saltwater Restaurant Group

Best Arts and Culture Experience: Culture Arts Alliance of Walton County

Best Event: South Walton Beaches Wine & Food Festival

Spirit of Hospitality: The St. Joe Company