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It’s a rare moment when a James Beard Foundation award medalist requests a name change for the award they’ve just won, but there’s no stopping Frasca Food and Wine co-owner and master sommelier Bobby Stuckey when he feels something deeply. And so, last night, while standing on the stage of the Lyric Opera in Chicago, in the middle of his acceptance speech for Frasca’s 2019 Outstanding Service award, Stuckey did just that:
“One favor I’d like to ask the Beard Foundation: Next year, can we change the name of the award to the [Outstanding] Hospitality award? I think in our industry, it’s not about the front-of-house or back-of-house, it’s the whole house. That’s what hospitality is about. It’s how we make people feel.”
If you’ve ever had the pleasure of dining at Frasca, you know just what Stuckey was trying to say.
He doubled-down on the sentiment in a phone conversation with 5280 this morning, reiterating that “service is just one little piece of hospitality, denoting what you do to somebody. Hospitality is everyone making our guests feel good, from the dishwasher to the maître d’.”
Frasca general manager Rose Votta, whom Bobby called out during his speech as “the lady who gets [Frasca] through service every night,” agrees. “Service is mechanical,” Votta said this morning before catching a plane back to Colorado, “but hospitality is a feeling and a way of life. I’m so lucky to be able to take care of people and bring joy into their lives on a daily basis. Hospitality is very rewarding for me…even more so now!”
On a gala night in which diversity, inclusiveness, and self-care for the restaurant industry were lauded themes, the Frasca team, Colorado’s only 2019 award finalist, won out against fierce competition: Canlis in Seattle (which took home medals for Design Icon and Best Chef: Northwest); Swan Oyster Depot and Saison in San Francisco; Zingerman’s Roadhouse in Ann Arbor, Michigan; and Brigsten’s in New Orleans.
Now, it’s back to the business of hospitality for Stuckey, Votta, and the rest of the Frasca staff in Boulder (and at sister restaurant, Tavernetta, in Denver). Votta said it best: “I’m ready to come back home with renewed vigor, to rededicate myself to our purpose. And I hope other restaurants in Colorado receive similar accolades because there are so many people doing great work here.”