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National Beef Backer Award winners announced

Beef checkoff award honors outstanding beef restaurants nationwide

National Beef Backer Award winners in foodservice were announced recently by the Beef Checkoff Program at the Annual Cattle Industry Conference in Phoenix, Ariz. The Beef Backer Award recognizes chain and independent restaurant operators who excel in menuing and marketing beef. This year's national winners included Cattlemens Restaurants (Santa Rosa, Calif.) in the "Independent" category, Charlie Brown's Steakhouse (Mountainside, N.J.) in the "Chain" category and Merriman's Restaurants (Kamuela, Hawaii) as the "Innovator of the Year."

"In 2008, more than 8.18 billion pounds of beef were served in the foodservice channel. It is important that we recognize and thank establishments that provide outstanding beef-eating experiences away from home," notes California cattleman Bill Jackson, Chairman of the Joint Foodservice Committee. "The 2008 National Foodservice Beef Backers are doing just that."

The Independent winner, a regional chain with eight locations in Northern California, was founded in 1968 by ranchers Pete Gillham Sr., and Pete Gillham Jr. Cattlemens Restaurants reflects the values that these ranchers brought to the restaurant business, featuring the best cuts of beef, served simply and in generous portions in a charming Western ambiance. John Frenzel, marketing director for Cattlemens Restaurants, says, "With a mouthwatering menu, innovative beef promotions and a dedication to satisfying guests, Cattlemens Restaurants has remained a place where tradition has outlasted the trendy."

Cattlemens stands out by emphasizing value and service. "In today's economic climate, customers still demand high quality, which is why all steaks at Cattlemens are hand-cut on premise the same day they're served, then grilled to perfection," Frenzel says.

Charlie Brown's Steakhouse was delighted to receive the Chain Restaurant National Beef Backer Award. Executive chef Tom Law says, "For over 40 years, Charlie Brown's Steakhouse has been committed to serving beef selections at an incredible value. In addition to traditional prime rib and steak cuts, we have been featuring newer beef cuts such as the Ranch and Flat Iron steaks as a way to continue offering our patrons a delicious steak at an affordable price."

Charlie Brown's menu is an excellent example of beef's versatility. "From our Prime Rib French Dip sandwiches to Bourbon Flat Iron Steak, as well as beef inspired soups and daily specials, we are proud of our diverse beef selections for both lunch and dinner," Law added.

Merriman's Restaurants captured the "Innovator of the Year" title. Chef and owner Peter Merriman says, "We're thrilled to accept the Beef Backer 'Innovator of the Year' award on behalf of our entire staff at Merriman's. Beef is a central part of the upcountry Hawaii lifestyle, and our regional menu. Our partnership with local ranchers guarantees us high-quality, great tasting beef products and an authentic dining experience."

Restaurant operators interested in entering the 2009 Beef Backer contest should contact their State Beef Council.

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