Manager of the Year Contest

Sarah Maldonado-Acosta, right, received third place in the 2019 el Restaurante/Jarritos Manager of the Year Contest. She is with Martin Hernandez, owner of el Jefe Mexican Kitchen & Tequila Bar, and his wife Ana.

CHICAGO — Sarah Maldonado-Acosta, general manager, el Jefe Mexican Kitchen and Tequila Bar, Stevensville, recently was named the third place winner in el Restaurante magazine’s 2019 Manager of the Year contest sponsored by Jarritos. Now in its fourth year, the contest honors the hard-working, dedicated managers who power the success of Mexican and other Latin-cuisine restaurants in the United States.

“Managers are the unsung heroes of the restaurant business, and we were amazed at the stories we read on the nomination forms,” said Ed Avis, publisher of el Restaurante, a trade magazine for Mexican and other Latin-cuisine restaurants in the United States.

“I quickly realized that ‘Sarita’ was someone I could count on and trust,” owner Martin Hernandez wrote in his nomination of Maldonado-Acosta. “In 2014, I made the jump to expand the restaurant and triple in size. Sarah has a background in sales and marketing and she grew my business like it was nothing. She became the face of El Jefe. In 2015, she took over as the general manager, and it’s the best decision I have ever made for this business.”

First place honors went to Jairo Navarro, general manager, Felipe’s Mexican Taqueria in Naples, Fla., and the second place prize went Garrett Wellsandt, general manager, Borracho Tacos and Tequileria, Spokane, Wash.

“Sarah is among the absolutely best managers in the business, but all of the nominees in the program deserve to be proud of their accomplishments,” added Avis, who said the top three top winners received cash prizes and certificates and were profiled in the OctoberNovember/December issue of el Restaurante ( All other nominees received certificates of recognition and were listed in the issue.

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