GKHA Stars of the Industry

PAULY Awards

The Greater Knoxville Hospitality Association (GKHA) recognizes our “Stars of the Industry” — the individuals who continue to smile after working long hours and those who make our guests feel welcomed.


Come see our STARS shine at the Pauly Awards

May 4, 2023 . Knoxville Convention Center



PAULY Awards Nominations are closed!

Submissions being accepted until April 14, 2023

The Nomination Category Details and Eligibility Requirements
  • The business/property/individual submitting the nominee and the nominee must be a member of GKHA.
  • A nominee must have served in the industry for a minimum of two years.
  • Only one nominee per category may be entered per business/property/individual.
  • Entries are due in the GKHA office no later than April 14, 2023.
  • All submitted materials become the property of GKHA and will not be returned.
General Managers & Managers of the Year (Lodging, Restaurant, Tourism, Service/Supplier)

The Outstanding General Manager and Manager awards provides each segment with an opportunity to recognize a general manager/manager who has demonstrated outstanding contributions in leadership, service and community civic affairs. The nominees are judged on performance that exceeds normal job responsibilities and contributes outstanding service to the business/property, customers/guests and community.

Tourism Property of the Year

The Outstanding Tourism Property (Museum/Attraction, Convention Center, CVB, Tourism Department, Theatres, etc.) award provides an opportunity to recognize a property that has made a significant achievement through a new marketing effort, special exhibit or community event.

Service/Supplier of the Year

The Outstanding Service/Supplier award is presented to a company in recognition of the professional contribution they have made to the businesses and organizations in the hospitality/tourism industry. These members provide special support services in a variety of ways and are a valuable partner with the hospitality/tourism industry.

Employees of the Year (Lodging, Restaurant , Tourism, Service/Supplier)

The Outstanding Employee awards provides each segment with an opportunity to recognize exemplary professionalism and service by an employee. The nominations are judged on performance that goes above and beyond normal job responsibilities and outstanding and unusual service to the property/restaurant/business, guests, customers and community.

Community Service of the Year

The Community Service award is presented to a Lodging Property, Restaurant or Tourism Property that provides service and demonstrates responsiveness to the local community. Examples include campaigns to benefit local or national service organizations, non-profits and charities or service to any part of the community through special and joint undertakings with community groups for the benefit of the area.

Good Earth Keeping Award of the Year & Special Event Award of the Year

Good Earth Keeping awards are presented to a Lodging Property, Restaurant or Tourism Property to recognize properties
that have developed a culture toward integrating environmental management practices with everyday operations, while maintaining quality service and meeting guest expectations.

Special Events awards are given for public relations programs or campaigns that demonstrate a creative approach to scheduled events, anniversaries, charity events, holidays or special publicity events.

Industry Educator of the Year

Industry Educator of the Year recognizes high school, community college, university, technical institute, certification or training program educators who prepare students for hospitality/tourism/culinary arts related jobs and higher education opportunities. These educators recognize and develop our future employees through work experience, resume building and scholarships. The judging criteria measures success in four (4)categories: 1) Classroom Recognition; 2) Community Service; 3) Industry Specific Research and 4) Mentoring Practices.

Chef of the Year

The Chef of the Year award recognizes an Executive or Sous Chef who has provided leadership, creativity, and culinary excellence for their restaurant. Nominees should display exceptional skills inside and outside the kitchen. A history of community service, leadership and mentorship within the restaurant and fantastic guest service are required.

Women in Tourism & Hospitality Leader of the Year & Rising Star of the Year

WITH award is presented to a female hospitality professional who serves as a leader and role model within the hospitality community. Candidates should describe noteworthy accomplishments, leadership roles, volunteer positions and personal initiative.

The Rising Star Award winner should be under age 30 who has demonstrated superior professional dedication, leadership and a fresh perspective to their job. The recipient should also exemplify the characteristics that lead to success in the hospitality industry-enthusiasm, “out of the box” thinking in their professional and personal life and a dedication to the industry by active participation in association, community and industry programs.

Volunteer of the Year

The Volunteer of the Year award is presented to an individual that demonstrates a significant commitment to an area attraction/museum or service organization throughout the year or has accomplished a specific project for an area attraction/museum or service organization.

Bill Regas SMILE (formerly Friendliest Face) of the Year

The Bill Regas SMILE award celebrates Bill Regas’s legacy, his influence and dedication to family and community, but most of all for his smile. This award recognizes an individual in the hospitality/tourism industry that has provided superior customer service throughout the year or has demonstrated a commitment to customer service through a specific event – someone who’s smile is genuine.


History of the PAULY Awards

The PAULY, like a Grammy, an Emmy or a Tony award, represents dedication, devotion and hard work to an industry – ours is the hospitality industry.

Like the other awards, the PAULY is named for a special person who provided us with vision, determination and leadership. Paul Sherbakoff was such a gentleman.

He managed several hotels in Knoxville; He managed the Knoxville Civic Auditorium and Coliseum and he was on the development task force of the Knoxville Convention Center. He co-wrote the original occupancy tax legislation and helped establish Knoxville’s first Convention & Visitors Bureau. He was a 2 time President of the Tennessee Hospitality & Tourism Association.

And, of course, he was a University of Tennessee graduate.

He worked our long hours and he knew the rewards and satisfaction of a job well done.

Because of Paul’s encouragement and persistence, the University of Tennessee began providing a couple of classes in Food and Lodging in the early 70’s. It has grown to include a master’s degree and is an internationally recognized program.

The Greater Knoxville Hospitality Association is proud to present the PAULY Awards to individuals and companies who epitomize the true spirit of hospitality. They are the driving force behind our industry’s success.