It would be an understatement to say 2020 has been a very difficult year for the restaurant industry.  In fact, just a couple of weeks ago the National Restaurant Association said, "The restaurant industry, more than any other industry in the nation, has suff­ered the most significant sales & job losses since the Covid-19 outbreak began."

There's been a lot of bad news for restaurants over the last couple of months, but earlier this week, at least one Philadelphia restaurant got a piece of very good news.

Movies have the Oscars.  Music has the Grammy's.  And restaurants have the James Beard Awards. Each year, the James Beard Foundation honors the country's best restaurants and the nominees for the 2020 awards were just announced.

Best New Restaurant is one of the most prestigious awards and Kalaya Thai Kitchen on S. 9th Street in Philadelphia is one of this year's 10 nominees.

According to Kalaya's website, "After years of hosting private parties and catering special events large and small, Nok Suntaranon set out to find a space of her own." That place, which opened in 2019, turned out to be Kalaya Thai Kitchen. says that the inspiration and name of the restaurant came from Suntaranon's mother, Kalaya.  In fact, "Each meal is a memory prepared in mom’s kitchen."

Kalaya Thai Kitchen wasn't the only Philadelphia restaurant that was recognized by the James Beard Foundation.  Marc Vetri of Vetri Cucina on Spruce Street was nominated for Outstanding Chef.

Meanwhile, Nicholas Elmi of Laurel, Rich Landau of Vedge, and Cristina Martinez
of South Philly Barbacoa were each nominated in the Best Chef: Mid-Atlantic category.

The James Beard Foundation says that this year's winners will be announced on Sept. 25.  Click here to find out more and to see a complete list of nominees.

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