Banquet honors Bloomington retail, tourism employees


diamond service awards
Taco Bell Manager Alfredo Briones, left, accepts Bloomington’s 2016 Food Safety Award in the fast food/cafeteria service from Joe Lawless, chairman of the city’s Advisory Board of Health, during the annual Diamond Service Awards banquet Feb. 19. (Submitted photo)


The Bloomington Convention and Visitors Bureau presented its 21st annual Diamond Service Awards last month.

The awards were handed out during a Feb. 19 banquet. The awards recognize outstanding employees in the Bloomington tourism, hospitality and retail industries.

The following awards were presented:

  • Best Retail Personnel, Hanna Smith, Hard Rock Café
  • Best Bartender, Eden Caswell-Gapinski, Hilton Minneapolis-St. Paul Airport
  • Best Transportation Personnel, Jeff Eggert, Country Inn & Suites at Mall of America; Benito Hernandez, Homewood Suites Mall of America
  • Best Food Production Personnel, Jose Rojas, Hilton Minneapolis-Bloomington
  • Best Bus/Dishwasher, Jeffrey Bakke, Hyatt Regency Bloomington
  • Best Hospitality Administration, Athena Lopez, JW Marriott Mall of America; Ilyssa Perez, Crayola Experience
  • Best Guest Relations Personnel, Amanda Ruch, Mall of America
  • Best Housekeeping Personnel (Full Service), Ericka Galicia, Embassy Suites Bloomington
  • Best Housekeeping Personnel (Limited Service), Brad Jackson, Country Inn & Suites at Mall of America
  • Best Engineer/Maintenance Personnel, Juan Pablo Campos, Hilton Minneapolis-Bloomington
  • Best Hotel Guest Services (Limited Service), Rhoda Randle, Homewood Suites Mall of America
  • Best Hotel Guest Services (Full Service), Hayley Grimmer, Sheraton Bloomington Hotel
  • Best Restaurant Personnel, Kaleb Greene, TGI Friday’s Normandale
  • Best Hotel Restaurant Personnel, Annette Cummings, Hilton Minneapolis-Bloomington
  • Best Banquet/Catering Personnel, Onur Turan, Radisson Blu Mall of America

The banquet also featured a presentation of the Spirit of Hospitality award to the Bloomington Police Department, which is presented to an individual or company who has made a significant contribution to the travel and hospitality industry.

Four people were inducted into the Hospitality Hall of Fame, honoring commitment and longevity in Bloomington’s tourism and hospitality industry. Inductions went to:

  • Jackie Ploen, human resources manager, Embassy Suites Bloomington, 37 years
  • Carrie Poepping, room cleaning attendant, Country Inn & Suites at Mall of America, 22 years
  • Michele Robidoux, banquet server, DoubleTree Bloomington, 30 years
  • Sai Rosser-Ichisumi, bartender, Crowne Plaza Mall of America, 30 years

The city of Bloomington awards its annual Food Safety Awards during the banquet.

Nominees were selected based upon results of the city’s 2016 health inspections and were interviewed at their establishment. The businesses were rated on food safety practices by volunteers from the city’s Food Collaborative, composed of food industry professionals. The city’s Advisory Board of Health reviewed the results and selected the award recipients in the five categories, as well as the winner of the Overall Food Safety Award, which went to Hilton Minneapolis-St. Paul Airport.

Winners of the 16th annual awards were:

  • Retail Grocery Award, Sam’s Club
  • Limited Service and Pizza Carryout Award, Pizza Hut
  • Fast Food/Cafeteria Service Award, Taco Bell
  • Large Restaurant Award, American Girl Bistro
  • Full Service Hotel Award, the Hilton Minneapolis-St. Paul Airport

– Compiled by Mike Hanks