Four restaurant industry leaders, including one from Greenville, were recognized with the 2023 Restaurants Advance Leadership Awards, honoring the industry’s best of the best for their work to build equity, advancement and opportunity in all corners of the restaurant, foodservice and hospitality industry.
Presented by the National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation, the awards highlight each honoree’s story of perseverance, dedication to the communities where they live and operate, and their tireless work to promote diversity, equity and inclusion, according to a news release. This year’s My Journey, Community Leadership and Diversity Leadership award winners received $10,000 to support a charity of their choice.
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“It’s an honor to recognize individuals who are raising the bar in the industry,” said Rob Gifford, president of the NRAEF, in the release. “The winners of this year’s Restaurants Advance Leadership Awards are extraordinary leaders in business and in their communities. They are changing lives and inspiring all of us to work harder in advancing restaurants as a space for opportunity and unlimited potential.”
The Community Leadership Award went to Carl Sobocinski, founder and owner of Greenville-based Table 301 Restaurant Group. From his work to incubate and grow new local restaurants with funds and hands-on training to his work with Mill Village Ministries, which provides fresh food boxes to low-income Greenville families, Sobocinski is a dedicated advocate for the hospitality industry’s business and philanthropic communities, the release stated.
“Carl Sobocinski shows what it means to be fully invested in the community where he and his restaurants operate,” said Kirk Madsen, director of client management at American Express, sponsor of the award. “More than making Greenville a great place to live, work, and dine, he believes passionately in sharing his blessings and extending opportunity to everyone he comes across.”
Table 301 began in 1997, with the opening of Soby’s New South Cuisine in Greenville, according to its website. Table 301 is now Soby’s, Soby’s on the Side, The Lazy Goat, NOSE DIVE, Passerelle Bistro, Southern Pressed Juicery, Highway 301 Food Truck and Table 301 Catering.
A native of Durham, New Hampshire, Sobocinski made his way to South Carolina and Clemson University where he pursued an architectural degree, according to his bio on Table 301’s website. Following his graduation, Sobocinski realized that his true passion aligned more with the hospitality industry and community service than architecture and design, the bio stated. In the mid-1990s, he opened his first restaurant called The 858 in Greenville. Soby’s New South Cuisine followed in 1997.