ATLANTA (November 23, 2010) – The Georgia Restaurant Association (GRA) recently paid tribute to the stars of the restaurant industry at the 4th Annual Georgia Restaurant Association Crystal of Excellence (GRACE) Awards. The 2010 GRACE Awards Gala took place at the Loews Atlanta Hotel on the evening of Sunday, November 14th.

The GRACE awards are peer-nominated and honor the top finalists in the following categories: Restaurateur of the Year, Industry Partner of the Year, Distinguished Service Award and the Innovator Award.

The GRACE Award for Distinguished Service was awarded to Kat Cole. Cole has built her career on expanding an international brand and mentoring countless women, and now she is the COO for Cinnabon, the market leader among cinnamon roll bakeries that operates more than 770 franchised locations worldwide.

Cole is an avid volunteer with industry organizations, such as Women’s Foodservice Forum, and nonprofits which fight hunger and homelessness and support women and children in need. She also serves as Chair of the Board of Directors for the GRA and President of the GRA Political Action Committee.

“My greatest accomplishments are the people I have mentored and developed,” said Cole. “They have taught me so much about myself and life and are the very reasons I am able to do all the volunteer work that I do.  I am also proud of my work with Food Banks across the country and in places like Rwanda to elevate and educate women. This industry has been very good to me, and it’s the least I can do to give back every chance I get.”

GRACE Awards Keynote Speaker Chef Kevin Gillespie, Executive Chef and Partner at Woodfire Grill, highlighted his connection with the local food movement. Suchita Vadlamani, Co-Anchor of Fox5’s “Good Day Atlanta,” served as the Mistress of Ceremonies. Mark & Nancy Oswald, of Ruth’s Chris Steak House, were honored with the Lifetime Achievement Award.       

The 2010 GRACE Awards winners were Restaurateur of the Year, Bob Campbell of Tappan Street Restaurant Group, Inc. (Taco Mac). Industry Partner of the Year was Chris Coan of Gas South, LLC. The Distinguished Service Award went to Kat Cole of Cinnabon, Inc. The Innovator Award was presented to Chef Ron Eyester of Rosebud.      

For a full list of finalists, visit

About the Georgia Restaurant Association

As the voice of Georgia’s restaurant industry, the GRA’s mission is to serve the needs of Georgia’s restaurant and foodservice industries by providing value for its members in four key cornerstones: political advocacy, professional development, business development and community involvement.  The GRA enjoys an affiliation with the National Restaurant Association (NRA) and is sanctioned by this national organization to operate Georgia’s only not-for-profit entity that represents the interests of the entire food service industry for the state of Georgia.  From large chains to start up restaurants to foodservice contractors and providers, the GRA, with chapters throughout Georgia, provides a unified voice for an industry comprising over 17,000 foodservice and drinking places in the state with total sales in excess of $14 billion and providing more jobs (375,000+) than any other non-government employer in the state.

For Media Inquiries, please contact Kelly Hornbuckle, Director of Marketing, at 404.723.5428 or


FOCUS Brands, Parent Company of Cinnabon, Named One of NMFI’s 50 Top Franchises for Minorities

ATLANTA (Nov. 10, 2010) – FOCUS Brands has been selected by The National Minority Franchising Initiative (NMFI) as one of the “50 Top Franchises for Minorities.” The NMFI has compiled its annual list and the results were featured in the
November 5th issue of USA TODAY in the Franchising Today section.

 “It is truly an honor to be named to NMFI’s list of top franshises for minorities,” said Russ Umphenour, CEO of FOCUS Brands. “We constantly strive to promote and foster diversity within our unique brands, and this recognition is a wonderful validation that our efforts are paying off.”

“We are extremely pleased to see that, in short ten years, minority representation has increased remarkably in the franchising industry,” said NMFI Founder Rob Bond. “Whereas minorities may have accounted for only 5 or 6% of total franchisees in 2000, the consensus is that today they account for well in excess of 15%. This is quite a remarkable testament not only to the industry’s reaching out to minorities, but to the underlying values and entrepreneurial talents that minorities contribute.”

The NMFI selected 50 franchisors from hundreds of companies requesting evaluation for inclusion in the article. There was no cost to participate in the survey. The only constraint was that franchisors had to have in excess of 50 operating units. Each participating franchisor was required to submit its most recent Franchise Disclosure Document (FDD) and the marketing package that is sent to prospective franchisees, as well as a completed questionnaire. The questionnaire noted the number (both absolute and as a percentage of the total number) of operating units owned by minorities, as well as the number of minorities in senior management that earned over $60,000 per year.

The World Franchising Network, which manages the website, also has 15 other websites focusing on franchising.