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Good Things Happen

As FSM was going to press, the Restaurant Association Metropolitan Washington (RAMW) made a key announcement at a reception held at The Carnegie Library. Lynne Breaux, former RAMW president, will be presented the Capital Achievement Award named in honor of legendary Washington restaurateur Duke Zeibert at the RAMMY Awards Gala in June.

The Association recognizes an individual whose hard work and outstanding initiative has increased the profile and success of the Metropolitan Washington restaurant community.

I met Lynne Breaux during a tour of restaurants for the first restaurant week in 2002. Still reeling from the effects of 9/11, the Association through its new executive director, Lynne sought to reenergize the restaurant scene to bring customers back into the District. At that time as a former restaurateur, she was the right person to lead the Association with her wealth of experience in restaurants and hotels. Lynne had owned and operated a Capitol Hill restaurant for thirteen years; Lynne arrived at RAMW as both a restaurateur and an experienced advocate for the industry.

I too had left a career of 20 plus years in food and beverage operations as both a hotel food and beverage manager and a restaurant manager and reinvented myself as a magazine editor/publisher for this regional foodservice trade publication. On the tour bus, we met each other for the first time and it didn’t take long for us to share our passion and vision for the industry. We talked about the sociology of hospitality and the joy a restaurant can bring and its role in a healthy vibrant community. With the success that came under Lynne’s leadership that extended through 2012, it seems odd to be talking about a time when the energy of the restaurant scene wasn’t sizzling like it is today.

On that winter evening in 2002, we talked about our plans for the future … what we would do. Lynne was going to grow the Association, regain its relevance in the eyes of the public and the politicians and place it back on a sound financial footing. I wanted to create a publication that reflected this industry and the great people who make it so exciting, so intoxicating to be a part of every day. I told her I would celebrate the people of hospitality (Lynne called them hospitalians) and you would always see a real person on my covers … and plenty of pictures of the doers to go with the informative articles written by local writers who were part of the good story. We hear about food and beverage being local and sustainable … I wanted a magazine in 2002 to be the same. Lynne Breaux was regularly a key part of the story of the Mid-Atlantic foodservice expansion and its DC renaissance.

We laughed that night about our words … because at that time, all we had were the words. We had the talk, but would our actions produce in the future. I know one of my career highlights was receiving the Association’s first Joan Hisaoka Associate Member of the Year Award, named for my public relations friend and hero. It validated my goal I shared with Lynne of wanting to do more than report on the industry, but to be a positive force for the good of hospitality.

Now, sure enough in 2014, Lynne Breaux is being recognized for meeting and exceeding her every expectation during her tenure. No, she never retired; she just passed on a blazing torch for Kathy Hollinger to carry forward with her own vigor and direction. On this night at the Carnegie Library, Lynne Breaux was honored. And she gave her best public speech ever … without the script and from the heart. Lynne Breaux’s enduring passion for hospitality reminded me of our meeting in 2002 … only this time she has made it all happen and the adulation of her peers covered her with their love and appreciation.

About the Author

Michael Birchenall is Editor and Publisher of Foodservice Monthly, a regional trade publication covering the foodservice industry of the Mid-Atlantic (DE, DC, MD, VA). Foodservice Monthly has been recognized as the Restaurant Association of Maryland's Allied Industry Member of the Year and by the Restaurant Association Metropolitan Washington as the Joan Hisaoka Associate Member of the Year.

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