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March 21, 2014

Local Restaurant Owner Honored As Outstanding Restaurateur of the Year

Kevin Arnold, owner of the Hungry Peddler in La Crosse, was honored as the Outstanding Restaurateur of the Year (OROY) by the Wisconsin Restaurant Association (WRA) La Crosse Chapter, made up of La Crosse, Monroe, Jackson, Trempealeau and Vernon counties. The OROY award is given by fellow members of the La Crosse Chapter based on success in business, community service and dedication to the restaurant industry.

The OROY award was presented as a surprise to Arnold on January 21st, at a WRA chapter meeting held at Piggy’s Restaurant in La Crosse. A Legislative Citation from Sen. Jennifer Shilling and Rep. Steve Doyle was presented to Arnold.

On Tuesday, March 11, Arnold will also be honored with a commendation medal at the 2014 WRA Awards Dinner gala, taking place at Potawatomi Bingo Casino near downtown Milwaukee.

Kevin Arnold has been a part of the restaurant industry for 40 years, starting out with a summer job at Rudy’s A&W in La Crosse as a teen. He then became a dishwasher at Guys & Dolls Pool Hall (located at what is now Fayze’s) in downtown La Crosse. In 1976, Arnold’s boss at Guys & Dolls started the Hungry Peddler and in 1978 at the age of 22, Arnold was promoted to manager of the restaurant. By 1985, Arnold purchased the business and became owner of the casual dining establishment.

Under Arnold’s ownership, Hungry Peddler employs 25 people and was one of the first independently-owned restaurants in the La Crosse area to offer health insurance and retirement plans to employees. For that reason and others, Arnold has many long-standing employees that focus on making guests feel more like friends than customers.

Hungry Peddler is open seven days a week serving breakfast, lunch and dinner and is best known for their French onion soup and a 16oz. T-Bone, served with “supper club style” accompaniments. Since 2000, the restaurant has served over 100,000 16oz. T-Bones equaling over 50 tons of meat.

Through the restaurant, Arnold gives back to the community quite extensively by offering two scholarships to Central High School students, supporting the La Crosse Police K-9 program, La Crosse Firefighters, Salvation Army, Humane Society, Alzheimer’s Association and many other charitable organizations and programs. Arnold also anonymously performs random acts of kindness in various ways to community members in need.

Arnold and his wife Karen reside in La Crosse. They have two children: Keith and Shayna.

WRA represents a broad range of foodservice operations and is dedicated to promoting and improving the restaurant industry. For more information, visit www.wirestaurant.org.

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Since 1933, the Wisconsin Restaurant Association has been dedicated to the promotion, protection and improvement of the foodservice industry.

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Wisconsin Restaurant Association • 2801 Fish Hatchery Rd. • Madison, WI 53713 • Tel: 608.270.9950 • Toll Free: 800.589.3211 • FAX: 608.270.9960