Chew on This: Eastern Iowa restaurants garner Iowa Restaurant Association awards

The Fish Store owner Lenore Zoll talks to a customer March 12 at then newly opened restaurant at 4342 16th Ave. SW, Ceda
The Fish Store owner Lenore Zoll talks to a customer March 12 at then newly opened restaurant at 4342 16th Ave. SW, Cedar Rapids. Zoll was among a handful of area women recognized as a “Women to Watch” by the Iowa Restaurant Association. (Jim Slosiarek/The Gazette)

The Iowa Restaurant Association is honoring 40 “Women to Watch” in hospitality. The list includes women involved in all aspects of the restaurant and bar industry, from owners to chefs and more.

The winners include several from the Corridor, including:

• Ashton Johnson, director of hospitality, Cedar Ridge Winery & Distillery, Swisher

• Briana Smallwood, co-owner, Vivian’s Soul Food, Cedar Rapids

• Brittany Hannah, chef/owner, Bistro 3 Nineteen, Marion

• Kelley Carter, operations and general manager, Guild and Ghosted Kitchen, Coralville

• Krista Stramel, general manager, Red Vespa Pizzeria, Solon

• Kristy Walker, president, Walker Homestead Farm & Winery, Iowa City

• Lenore Zoll, owner, The Fish Store, Cedar Rapids

Honorees will be featured in Food and Beverage Iowa Business Quarterly and on the Iowa Restaurant Association website. They also will be recognized in person on Nov. 16 at the Iowa Events Center in Des Moines during the Iowa Restaurant Association’s annual Celebrating Excellence Awards Ceremony. More information and tickets are available at

The awards ceremony also will recognize winners of the annual state hospitality awards. David Basinger of Rodina in Cedar Rapids will be named hospitality employee of the year.

“This event is a much needed celebration of one of Iowa’s most resilient and important industries,” said Jessica Dunker, president and CEO of the Iowa Restaurant Association, in a news release. “After the challenges we’ve faced this year, we’re ready to honor hospitality professionals who exemplify innovation and business acumen, as well as shine a light on the significant contributions they’ve made to their communities and Iowa’s hospitality culture.”

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