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Claudia Sanders’ manager honored

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Riley named state’s restaurant manager of the year

By Lisa King

Louise Riley, manager of Claudia Sanders Dinner House in Shelbyville, has been named Restaurant Manager of the Year 2008 by the Kentucky Restaurant Association.

Riley received the award at the KRA's annual awards banquet, a black-tie event held at the Crystal Ballroom at the Brown Hotel in Louisville on Jan. 26.

Riley, who has been manager of Claudia Sanders for seven years, said she was thrilled to be nominated.

“I totally did not expect to win,” she said, adding that she was shocked to be chosen one of the final eight out of 1,100 managers statewide. “I thought that was an honor in itself.”

Riley chuckled, saying she was embarrassed when they started naming off the finalists and didn't mention her.

“I thought they forgot me,” she said. “And then they said the winner was Louise Riley!”

Riley's excitement almost matched that of Claudia Sander's owner, Tommy Settle, who also attended the event.

“We're very proud of Louise for what a great job she's done and how dedicated she is and what a tough job she has,” he said.

Settle said Riley's duties include scheduling, supervising everything from employee dress codes to health codes, and booking parties and weddings.

Riley said that the absence of a routine is what she likes best about her job.

“I like the diversity,” she said. “I do a lot of things, anywhere from doing sales, maintenance, guest services, office managerial staffing, training; I do something different every hour of the day.”

Settle calls Riley a very intelligent lady who really cares about people.

“She's a people person with a very big heart,” he said. “When we do Christmas at Claudia's, she gets very involved. She really likes helping other people. She's my right-hand man.”

Stacy Roof, president and CEO of the Kentucky Restaurant Association, said Riley was way out in front of all the candidates.

“We chose her because she just had glowing recommendations,” she said. “When our board convened to vote, we voted for her unanimously.”

Roof added that Riley's loyalty and dedication to her job and her employer was another factor in the decision to award her first place.

“It was just a crazy year for her, and she weathered that storm and hung in there and committed herself to its [Claudia Sanders’] success,” she said.

Settle agreed.

“She's done a tremendous job,” he said. “It's quite an honor to be named restaurant manager of the year and we're very proud of her.”