SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - Acme Hospitality General Manager Kacey House and Sanitation Captain Luis Garcia are getting special recognition for their work this summer.
Hospitality group Visit Santa Barbara has awarded House and Garcia the 'Hospitality Heroes' Grand Prize Award, choosing them as the overall winners during a five-week 'Hospitality Heroes' program from July to August.
The program evaluated nominations from the Santa Barbara hospitality industry--awarding "dedicated" and "innovative" workers that went above and beyond to keep their business safe during the pandemic.
House manages five of Acme Hospitality's eight Santa Barbara concepts, including The Lark, Lucky Penny, Santa Barbara Wine Collective, Pearl Social and Helena Avenue Bakery.
“To come out kind of as the leadership of this new era is really exciting,” House said Thursday. “What an honor it is to be recognized around so many excellent businesses who were nominated.”
Acme's businesses expanded their patio areas into their adjacent parking lots to keep guests distanced. Flowers, hanging lights and a vintage ice cream truck decorate the Lark's seating space.
“We snuck into some other corners of the restaurant that we hadn’t necessarily served in before,” House said. “We’re very lucky that the majority of [The Lark] was already a patio.”
The Lark staff also placed QR code stickers on outdoor tables for guests to access digital menus from their phones--a way to stay protected from potential virus spread that is more environmentally-friendly than disposable menus.
Garcia was unavailable to speak Thursday, but House commended his dedication. She believes front line restaurant workers need to be acknowledged and taken care of by their supervisors, as they work exceptionally hard to rebuild the industry.
“People like Luis, who you know, I nominated [for the Hospitality Heroes award] and we won both of these together... so exciting because I think that it’s an opportunity to really show the people behind the scenes,” House said. “The bussing staff the cleaning staff are a huge, integral part to making sure that we stay successful as a business and as a community, and that we stay safe during this time.”
House and Garcia's Grand Prize earns them a 'Santa Barbara staycation' package, including: a two-night stay at the Rosewood Miramar Beach; meals at Bouchon and Loquita; a kayaking tour with Santa Barbara Adventure Company and a wine tasting at Grassini Family Vineyards' downtown tasting room.
Along with House and Garcia, weekly winners during the 'Hospitality Heroes' program included Casa del Herrero, Paseo Nuevo, the Santa Barbara Botanic Garden and Pamme Mikelson from the Goleta Valley Historical Society.