The Garden City Telegram hosted its inaugural Best of the Best community choice awards banquet on Thursday night, and the entire staff was thrilled by the attendance of nearly 200 business and community leaders.
Awards were given in more than 80 categories, spanning everything from best happy hour spot to best real estate company, and guests were treated to dinner options of strip steak and chicken marsala with cheesecake and champagne at the Clarion Inn Convention Center.
“This is our first time at this, and we’re just thrilled with the attendance and the crowd,” Telegram Editor-Publisher Dena Sattler said during her opening statements. “This is a really good opportunity for us to thank the businesses and organizations in the community for the wonderful work they do.”
Steve Quakenbush, executive director of the Finney County Historical Society, lent his eloquence to the event in his role as emcee, guiding attendees through the rush of awards intended to bring community leaders together and galvanize patronage for local hubs in virtually every category imaginable.
“Why is The Telegram doing this?” Quakenbush asked the audience. “Well, the answer is really because I think The Telegram felt like Garden City deserved something along the lines of the Oscars or the Golden Globes. This might not quite be there, but close.”
Each category included three nominees and one winner. Quakenbush noted that votes were sourced from The Telegram’s readership of approximately 12,000 people.
“Those of you in this room are really in a lot of cases the leaders of the Finney County and southwest Kansas business community,” Quakenbush said. “It’s your creativity and potential that really helps ensure our community’s growth and success."
Samy’s Spirits & Steakhouse swept six awards over the course of the evening, including best all-around restaurant, best brunch, best happy hour, best dining experience, best fine dining, and best romantic restaurant.
Amro Samy, owner of the restaurant, said he really counts on his staff and managers to provide excellent service, and he attributed his restaurant’s success to their efforts.
Samy and Cecil O’Brate tied for the Person of the Year award to top it all off. Both men have partnered in the launch of numerous prominent business ventures in the community and lend funding to a host of different initiatives.
When asked how he felt about receiving the Person of the Year award, O’Brate said it was just a testament that he and Samy put a lot of work into the community.
“We’re both partners, so that’s the reason we were tied,” he said.
Among Garden City’s numerous nonprofit organizations, the Finney County Humane Society took the victory, with other nominees including ABC Pregnancy and Garden City Arts.
When asked what the award meant to the organization, Nikki Spanier, Humane Society executive director, said she is “excited, happy and looking forward to the new year.
“There’s a lot coming this year,” she said. “Thank you to the community.”
Kenny Vu Lam opened his restaurant, Saigon’s Corner, in September 2016, but despite the eatery’s new place in Garden City, Saigon’s Corner snagged the reward for best takeout against Dragon Express and Traditions Soda & Sandwich.
“It means a lot,” Vu Lam said. “It’s just like a dream come true, and I’m so honored. So it’s been a year and a half of hard working, never stop trying. I’m really flattered to be here and get the award and be the winner of my category.”
After the event’s ceremony unfolded, Sattler said she wasn’t sure what to expect, but noted that the turnout was “tremendous.”
“Our group did a great job putting everything together,” she said. “This is our first run at it. I couldn’t be more pleased.”
DJ Richmeier, the Telegram’s multimedia sales manager, agreed.
“We are completely thrilled at the turnout,” she said. “We had close to 200 attendees, and this was our first year, so next year we hope to grow it and at least double it.”
If that happens, the next big obstacle will be figuring out where to put everyone.
A special section listing all of Thursday night’s winners will be included in Saturday’s edition of the Telegram.
Contact Mark Minton at firstname.lastname@example.org.