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Lula Drake and City Grit Hospitality Group are James Beard Award finalists

Columbia is home two two James Beard Award finalists.


Lula Drake Wine Parlour on Main Street is a finalist for a James Beard Award. | Photo by COLAtoday

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Two Columbia establishments were named as finalists for the 2023 James Beard Awards announced Wednesday. Meet the locals that made the cut:

  • Outstanding Restaurateurs — Aaron Hoskins, Sarah Simmons, and Elie Yigo from CITY GRIT Hospitality Groupthink: smallSUGAR, CITY GRIT, and Il Focolare Pizzeria.
  • Outstanding Hospitality — Lula Drake

Winners for the awards, known as the “Oscars of food,” will be announced on Mon., June 5, in Chicago — and we’ll be sure to let you know if we have local winners.

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City Grit Market in the Vista serves wine and ready to eat to-go options. | Photo by COLAtoday team

Get to know the finalists

Lula Drake Wine Parlour, 1635 Main St. | Lula Drake owner Tim Gardner is one of the Midlands advanced sommeliers, and it shows through the restaurant’s selection. Let your taste buds travel by joining its Wine Club offering exclusive wine dinners, curated members-only selections, and special events taking you beyond the everyday menu.

CITY GRIT hospitality group, various locations | More than a typical restaurant group, CITY GRIT strives to help our community through its Workforce Development Program and its’ Feed the City concept offering affordable wages, leadership development, and upward mobility for employees. Stop by smallSUGAR in the Vista for breakfast and grab a ‘za from il Focolare to celebrate the nomination.

Past winners from South Carolina include Charleston-based restaurants Husk, FIG, and Rodney Scott’s Whole Hog BBQ. You can find the complete list of finalists here.

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