From the front to the back of the house, it takes many hands to keep a restaurant running. Their job title might be server, host, line cook, dishwasher, chef or general manager, but these people are also parents, siblings, grandparents, entrepreneurs, dreamers and community members.

These are the people the #RestaurantChallenge campaign aims to lift up after a difficult year of service.

Positively influencing the lives of restaurant employees around the country inspired the Certified Angus Beef ® brand to double the weekly $2,500 tips; four restaurants will be selected weekly from now through April 11, 2021, via social media nominations using #RestaurantChallenge. 

Meet the four recent winners of the challenge below.

Oak Steakhouse – Charleston | Charleston, South Carolina

The Oak Steakhouse is located on Charleston’s historic Broad Street.

Opened in 2004 as the crown jewel of Steve Palmer’s Indigo Road Restaurant Group, Oak offers prime, dry-aged steaks, seafood and an assortment of other luxe cuisine options to a clientele with high expectations.

Loyal customers continued supporting the establishment through takeout and steak packages to make at home over the last year. As the dining spaces continue to open up, staff are excited to see familiar faces back in the restaurant.

“It was tough and we didn’t know what the future looked like, but we were extremely grateful that all of our staff wanted to come back,” says Mark Keiser, executive chef at Oak Steakhouse.

Flour | Chagrin Falls, Ohio

Expect old school Italian classics with a touch of modern, like spaghetti and clams, braised short ribs with a crispy exterior and some of the richest Bolognese you’ll ever taste at Flour.  

Located in the greater Cleveland area, this fine-dining establishment was the first spot some of the most loyal guests came to when dining in was safe again.

Like most, the restaurant was hit hard during the early days of COVID, but its faithful clientele never stayed away long. Takeout was adopted and embraced wholeheartedly by customers and remains a substantial portion of the business today, even as in-person dining has returned in a big way.

Flour even has dishes only found on its take-out menu (like ramen and southwest cuisine) that let chefs dabble with creative flavors.

The staff were grateful for the big tip and are glad to be serving a full dining room again.

Lewis Barebecue | Charleston, South Carolina

Austin, Texas pit master John Lewis was challenged to a Texas versus South Carolina barbecue cook-off. Having never been to the Palmetto state, he packed up his smoker. After battling it out at a Charleston brewery, his eyes were opened to the opportunity the Holy City had for a Texas-style barbecue joint.

So he made plans and moved east.

Lewis Barbecue opened its doors in 2016. The fast-casual restaurant serves up ‘Q with strong nods to Lewis’ Texas roots, yet incorporates many modern touches through the fare. Certified Angus Beef ® brand Prime brisket and short ribs make beefy barbecue fan favorites. The self-proclaimed ‘barbecrew’ was grateful for the big tip from the brand.

Lewis plans to open two more restaurants in the coming year, one Lewis Barbecue location in Greenville, S.C., and Juan Luis, a Mexican-style take in Charleston.

Chicago Culinary Kitchen | Palatine, Illinois

“When it’s gone, it’s gone!” Open on the weekends only until the food runs out, the Chicago Culinary Kitchen (CCK) has a uniquely loyal following.

The passionate Chicago suburb fans kept the doors open through takeout when indoor dining was shut down and have continued to show their love for the restaurant on social media with gusto through #RestaurantChallenge.

Chicago Culinary Kitchen has been twice named “Best BBQ in Illinois” by CNN Money Magazine, thanks to its Texas-style menu paired with craft beers. Greg and Kristina Gaardbo started using Certified Angus Beef ® brand product at CCK in 2018. They’ve been avid fans since.

The couple plans to open a new, larger location this spring that will have expanded hours, serving up more of that delicious barbecue.


Restaurants across America will continue to be chosen as part of the #RestaurantChallenge campaign based on nominations from patrons sharing their experiences on Facebook and Instagram. Visit to learn more about how you can nominate your favorite restaurant to win a big tip from the Certified Angus Beef ® brand.