2019-02-09 / News

Patti Ann Moskwa Earns Top Restaurant and Lodging Association Award

By Stephanie Fortino


Patti Ann Moskwa (right) receives the Michigan Restaurant and Lodging Association’s Distinguished Service Award from 2018 recipient and Detroit restaurateur Janey Sossie Belcoure January 13 in Midland. (Michigan Restaurant and Lodging Association photograph) Patti Ann Moskwa (right) receives the Michigan Restaurant and Lodging Association’s Distinguished Service Award from 2018 recipient and Detroit restaurateur Janey Sossie Belcoure January 13 in Midland. (Michigan Restaurant and Lodging Association photograph) Mackinac Island business owner Patti Ann Moskwa was awarded the Michigan Restaurant and Lodging Association’s highest honor in January. The Distinguished Service Award recognizes her commitment to the restaurant and hospitality industry, as she is a vocal advocate for restaurant owners on a statewide and national scale.

The Michigan Restaurant and Lodging Association is a conglomeration of restaurant owners and hoteliers from across the state. Mrs. Moskwa has been involved with the group for 15 years and joined the organization’s board in 2002. Over the years, she has become close with many members of the association, forming long-lasting friendships through their work to improve the restaurant and hospitality industry.

The Distinguished Service Award is selected by previous winners of the award, fellow peers in the industry. This makes being chosen for the award especially heartening, she told the Town Crier.

“It’s your friends,” she said. “They put your name in. They respect you and know that you work hard and respect them.”

Mrs. Moskwa is a third-generation owner of Horn’s Gaslight Bar and Restaurant on Main Street, which she has owned with her husband, Steven, since 1987. In 1996, the couple built their second restaurant, the Yankee Rebel Tavern on Astor Street. Mrs. Moskwa runs the daily operations of both establishments, while Mr. Moskwa takes over at night.

The award seeks to recognize people who have shown exceptional leadership, vision, and commitment to Michigan’s hospitality industry, according to the association. Mrs. Moskwa was chosen for the Distinguished Service Award because of her work in political advocacy, as she has made many trips to Lansing and Washington, D.C. to support restaurants and hotels, the association said in a statement. Over the years, she has been involved with many pressing issues, including helping politicians understand the need for H-2B visa workers in Northern Michigan.

“Patti Ann is an indispensable asset to both the Michigan Restaurant and Lodging Association and the entire industry,” said Justin Winslow, association president and CEO. “From her political grassroots influence to her insight from working the day-to-day operations her entire career, she has always been a champion of our industry, which made our decision an easy one.”

For Mrs. Moskwa, being involved in the restaurant and lodging association has been a valuable and rewarding experience, not only for the social aspects, but also for the networking and professional support.

“It’s the camaraderie,” she said. “You’re involved with people who have the same issue with you. You don’t understand that until you join the organization. We all have the same issues with the government, we all have the same issues with the health department, we all have the same issues with getting products and getting employees.”

Lobbying on behalf of the H-2B program is one of biggest projects Mrs. Moskwa has undertaken, since seasonal international workers are critical to hospitality business on Mackinac Island, northern Michigan, and throughout the country.

“When you meet with those people in Washington D.C.,” she said, “you think, ‘Gee, I’m not the only one.’”

In the past, she and the association have also worked to get health departments throughout the state to have standardized regulations. Previously each health department had its own rules, which made it difficult for restaurant owners who had multiple businesses in different municipalities. Over the last decade, the association has been working to ensure consistent regulations too lessen the burden on owners.

More recently, the group has been working on the proposed statewide wage increase for restaurant wait staff to $15 an hour. If the measure would have been passed as originally proposed, it would have had significant financial impact on the restaurant industry, Mrs. Moskwa said, and consequences like sharp increase in food prices for diners. Helping lobbyists and politicians understand the implications of such proposals is essential, she said.

Among her other accomplishments, Mrs. Moskwa earned the first Grassroots Champion Award from the National Restaurant Association in 2007, which was another very big honor, she said.

On the Island, she serves as a member of the Mackinac Island Tourist Bureau and previously served on the school board, planning commission, and as co-chair of the Lilac Festival.

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