The National Restaurant Association is now accepting nominations for the third annual Operator Innovations Awards, which celebrate restaurant operators who are transforming the industry.

An independent panel of operators from both commercial and non-commercial backgrounds will select three finalists in each of five categories: Health & Nutrition, Marketing, Menu Development, Sustainability and Technology. A single winner in each category as well as an Innovator of the Year will be selected by the panel and revealed during the Destination: Celebration event to be held in May, 2014, in conjunction with the NRA Show in Chicago.

"As operators ourselves, we have first-hand knowledge how innovation drives the success of a foodservice establishment — and the entire industry," said Scott Barton, president of the Fine Dining division of Lettuce Entertain You, and an OI Award judge. "Recognizing fellow operators that demonstrate ingenuity in core business areas both celebrates them and their achievement, and brings their stories to the attention of the entire industry in a way that we all can benefit from."

Commercial and non-commercial operators may self-nominate. The NRA also encourages nominations from individuals throughout the industry — including manufacturers, dealers and distributors, media and other restaurant and foodservice industry professionals — who have seen first-hand how restaurants are driving progress in the restaurant and foodservice industry, fueling customer satisfaction and profitability.

Nominations will be accepted online at Restaurant.org/Show/OIAwards through Jan. 17, 2014.

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