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In the heart of Amarillo, Texas, where cowboys – and girls – still live, live music thrives, and various eateries serve delicious plates that still capture that pioneer essence of the Southwest, there exists an award-winning team that has recently put the city on the culinary map. Acclaimed restaurateur Rory Schepisi and her vibrant team at Forking Good Hospitality, recently added another significant feather to their cap. They are the recipients of this year’s esteemed Rising Star Award from the Texas Restaurant Association (TRA), focusing an even brighter spotlight on their already well-regarded restaurants in Amarillo. The TRA’s Rising Star Award recognizes the hard work that goes into opening a restaurant and identifies the recipient as an up-and-comer in the Texas restaurant scene with ambitious goals and the grit to achieve them.

And the Rising Star Award Goes To…

When one explores the variety of places to eat in Amarillo, Texas, two establishments that stand out are Sa•vór Tapas Bar and the Drunken Oyster, both owned by Rory. Known for their innovative menus, lively ambiance, and their integration of the many types of live music Amarillo loves, these restaurants have become go-to places for both locals and out-of-towners alike for a great night out.

For those who don’t know, Amarillo has a new and thriving culinary scene, making it a tough competition for any restaurant aiming to stand out. Yet, the team at Forking Good Hospitality, led by Rory, has managed to carve out a significant niche in this domain. Sa•vór Tapas Bar, with its unique small plates, Spanish-inspired global flavors, and exquisite wine collection, caters to those who appreciate variety and a sophisticated dining experience. Simultaneously, the Drunken Oyster – which has established itself as one of the best bars in Amarillo in recent years – offers a blend of Cajun-inspired dishes and cocktails, some of the best steaks in Amarillo, and offers a beautiful venue for many of the best local live musicians to perform and enhance their patrons’ dining experience.

The TRA award is a testament to the hard work, innovation, and dedication Rory and her team put into their restaurants. Not just about the quality of food in Amarillo they offer, the award recognizes their contributions to the city’s culture, the Amarillo nightlife, and their constant strive to elevate the dining experience.. The award also highlights their success in not just being among the Amarillo Texas restaurants, but being institutions that have set a new standard in the elevated dining scene. 

The focus of Rory and her team goes beyond just providing fast food in Amarillo. They’re committed to delivering a dining experience that engages all the senses. The menu at Sa•vór, for instance, is an Spanish-kissed invitation to a culinary journey around the world, while the Drunken Oyster’s fresh fish dishes are an ode to Southern coastal cuisine and one of the reasons that they are known for having the very best seafood in Amarillo. From perfectly cooked steaks to juiciest burgers in Amarillo, the choices in these restaurants and the quality are unmatched.

The TRA award also honors their commitment to creating unique experiences. As any fan of Amarillo’s many live music venues knows, the Drunken Oyster isn’t just a place to eat, but it’s a platform for artists and a cultural hub. Meanwhile, Sa•vór’s sophisticated ambiance, relaxed outdoor patio bar and inspired menu have raised the bar for fine dining in Amarillo.

Rory Schepisi’s establishments are not just among the best restaurants in Amarillo, they’re institutions that continue to help redefine the city’s food scene. With the TRA award, Rory and her team have demonstrated that their passion for food, culture, and hospitality not only resonates with their patrons but also with their peers in the industry. As Amarillo’s culinary world continues to evolve, one thing is sure: Rory Schepisi and her Forking Good Hospitality team will continue to lead the way, creating exceptional experiences that will extend well beyond the dining table.

The Forking Good Hospitality Team Makes Its Mark on Houston

In the heat of July, the Texas Restaurant Association (TRA) convened its annual Texas Restaurant Show in the bustling city of Houston. The event, held over the weekend of July 7th, was a lively convergence of industry professionals, and it reached its climax with the TRA’s Awards Ceremony and their annual Lone Star Bash on Sunday, July 9th.

In a display of unity and excitement, Rory Schepisi, a well-known finalist from the Next Food Network Star and reality television alum, made the journey to Houston with as many of her Forking Good Hospitality (FGH) Team as she could afford to take. The team who remained in Amarillo, a devoted ensemble of chefs, servers, and front-of-house staff, ensured that the operations back home ran seamlessly in their absence.

The FGH team, while in Houston, made the most of the weekend-long show, networking with peers, relishing the gastronomic offerings, and eagerly anticipating the award ceremony on Sunday. The TRA Awards, often compared to the Academy Awards of the Texas Restaurant Industry, are a prestigious recognition of excellence, and even being a nominee is a considerable honor.

When the moment finally arrived, the revelation echoed through the room: the TRA’s Rising Star Award went to Rory Schepisi and Forking Good Hospitality! Their relentless dedication and meteoric success with The Drunken Oyster and Sa•vór Tapas Bar in Amarillo had not gone unnoticed.

Never one to shy away from the spotlight, Rory stepped up to the podium with her usual confidence. As the applause subsided, she charmed the crowd with her wit and humility, “This is AWESOME! But, a Rising Star? I don’t know; I’ve been in the industry a long time…” she laughed, sending ripples of amusement through the audience. She continued, “So I just want to say to everybody in this room: We have passion, we have dedication, and we have some big cahoonas… that’s for sure.

Acknowledging her team with heartfelt appreciation, she continued, “I want to thank my team, FGH – Forking Good Hospitality, I couldn’t do this without my GMs, my EC, my Office Manager! Look at them, standing over there! Thank you, guys!” Her team responded with a spirited, “WE LOVE YOU!”

Rory also expressed gratitude to her family, “My mom and stepdad made it all the way from New Jersey!” This elicited a resounding applause. Sharing a bit of her personal journey, she said, “As a little girl, I’d watch my stepdad cook every day, and it was something that I just wanted to do. And I just wanted to say to all of us here, you know: We are in this game because we LOVE hospitality and we’re the ones that keep it going. Congratulations to everybody in this room! Thank you guys!”

As she exited the stage, the room echoed with applause. Rory walked away with the TRA’s Rising Star Award, a striking stainless steel frying pan, artfully engraved – a symbol of her accomplishments and an emblem of her journey so far.

This Rising Star Continues its Assent

While some might say they have their hands full with two highly successful establishments, Rory and her team show no signs of slowing down. Adding another exciting chapter to Amarillo’s culinary and entertainment story, Rory and her Forking Good Hospitality team are now turning their attention to the resurrection of a cherished local institution. The Western Horseman Club, a venue with a rich history dating back to 1983, is being restored and reimagined under Rory’s experienced hand.

Originally known as a “spirited” country bar and music venue, The Western Horseman Club was a beloved spot for live country music, country and western dancing, and line dancing. Located on the property of an older motel that had seen better days, it was a relic of a different time, offering a rugged, authentic experience that endeared itself to its patrons. However, it eventually closed its doors amidst the COVID pandemic, a casualty of evolving tastes and the real-world circumstances facing many establishments in Amarillo during that period.

That might have been the end of the story, were it not for a timely intervention. A new investor bought the property in 2022 and undertook significant renovations, transforming the tired motel into the now top-rated Cactus Cove Inn and Suites, a boutique hotel that has quickly become a favorite among visitors to Amarillo.

Now, with the hotel restored to its former glory, Rory and her team have set their sights on the revival of The Western Horseman Club. However, this is not just about restoration; it’s about reinvention. The team plans to elevate the Western Horseman Club from its roots as a beer and shot bar to a high-end steakhouse. This new venture promises to uphold the venue’s legacy of live music while introducing patrons to a culinary experience anchored in exceptional steaks and an impressive whiskey selection. It’s a bold new direction, blending tradition and innovation, reflecting the evolving tastes of Amarillo while paying homage to its heritage. With the same spirit that earned them the Texas Restaurant Association Award, Rory and her team are all set to redefine yet another piece of Amarillo’s dining and entertainment scene.

About The Texas Restaurant Association

The Texas Restaurant Association (TRA) is the leading business association for Texas’ $95 billion foodservice industry, which spans upwards of 55,000 locations throughout the state, employing a workforce of 1.4 million people which represents a whopping 11% of the state’s employment.

The TRA is committed to optimizing the business climate for its members. It serves as an essential beacon in the constantly evolving landscape of industry regulations, providing contemporary training programs and certification offerings. The TRA equips its members with realistic and effective business strategies, making it an invaluable tool for those in the foodservice sector. Their broad community encompasses restaurant owners, operators, employees, suppliers, educators, and students alike. From industry veterans to those just entering the field, they offer unwavering support for the Texas restaurant players and a wide range of benefits throughout the year.

It is the mission of the Texas Restaurant Association to serve as the advocate and indispensable resource for the hospitality and foodservice industry in Texas.

The TRA’s yearly Texas Restaurant Awards ceremony is held during their annual Texas Restaurant Show; this event shines as the largest industry trade show and educational conference in the southwest United States, drawing over 5,000 attendees. For more than 30 years, the TRA Awards have been coveted by the state’s top foodservice and hospitality leaders.

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