The 2nd Annual Visit Lebanon Valley Hospitality Star Awards


Established in 1983, National Travel and Tourism Week (NTTW) is an annual tradition to celebrate the U.S. travel community and honor the essential role that travel plays in stimulating the economy, cultivating vibrant communities, creating job opportunities, and elevating the quality of life for Americans every day. Here at Visit Lebanon Valley, we may operate on a much smaller scale, but we still seek to celebrate and honor travel and tourism in all aspects of our work.

Travel and hospitality are at the heart of the Lebanon Valley, strengthening the culture and identity of our community. As ambassadors for tourism in the Lebanon Valley, we are proud to celebrate all that our industry has done for the community, and we hope to continue these contributions in the future.

With that, we are taking this week of celebration as an opportunity to honor some of the standout hospitality workers in the Lebanon Valley through our 2nd Annual Hospitality Star Awards. We hope that through this initiative we can elevate the message that travel and hospitality are important to our county in so many ways, including economic growth and development, job creation, and the preservation of our heritage and quality of life here in the Lebanon Valley.

Karen Barnhart

For over 30 years, Karen has been a keystone in keeping Kenbrook Bible Camp a welcoming and above all…clean space for campers and staff. With a passion for providing guests with the chance to relax and forget about cleaning, she is all about the details… taking care towards things others might overlook but that those who visit and work at the camp appreciate immensely. Karen is a mentor to the summer staff, teaching them the importance of following processes, checking lists, and taking pride in their work. In the rare times that she is not around at the camp… her absence is noticeable. From making her coworkers’ jobs easier by anticipating guests’ needs to cleaning bathroom floors on hands and knees, Karen has an inspiring work ethic and truly represents what it is to be a hospitality star.

Christy Barzona

Christy has been representing the Lebanon Valley for the past year and a half in her role as the Banquet and Catering Lead for Hollywood Casino at Penn National Racecourse. With a “do whatever it takes” mindset, Christy makes it her priority to anticipate the needs of her guests and often… she exceeds their expectations. In the time that she has been with Hollywood Casino, Christy has built great relationships, not just with her team and managers, but even with those outside her department. She takes pride in learning and has a passion for helping her team to improve and grow, both individually and as a department. Simply put, Christy is a great representation of the best that the Lebanon Valley has to offer.

Becky Briody

As the Head Chef and Owner of Chef on the Go and a part-owner of the Timbers, Becky has served thousands of people with her delicious meals and excellent customer service. She has been in the food industry since she was young and developed many skills working alongside her family, who once ran the Mt. Gretna Playhouse before moving their operations to the Timbers. On top of creating delicious dishes, Becky has created jobs for others and often lends her skills and services to help non-profit organizations… working with them to fit their needs and budgets. Becky has been a pillar of our community for many years, and we are lucky to have her at the forefront of welcoming visitors to the Valley.

Ryan Fretz

If you’ve ever strolled along the streets and pathways of Mt. Gretna’s Chautauqua community, you’ve likely seen and enjoyed the work of Ryan Fretz. Serving the area with his creativity and artistic talents, Ryan helps to make Mt. Gretna’s sense of place one that is unique and beautiful. His work can be seen throughout Gretna in the beautiful private gardens spilling out and around many porches and in landscape designs on the PA Chautauqua properties. For decades, Ryan has worked in the area performing community beautification via landscape art. This summer, in celebration of the Year of the Arts (YOTA), Ryan will be holding community-based art workshops to reimagine the main gate of the Mt Gretna Art Show 2024. He may never know the amount of people he touches with his work, but we are grateful for the beauty he provides to the Lebanon Valley.

Cory Hughes

For the past 15 years, Cory Hughes has been an indispensable member of the Sinkhole Saloon. As the General Manager, he puts in the sweat, tears, and sacrifice it takes to succeed in the hospitality industry….along with an exceptional sense of humor. Cory started out as a dishwasher, but with his time commitment and eagerness to learn, he climbed the ranks going from dishwasher to line cook to sous chef to kitchen manager to bartender to restaurant manager, and finally…. to his current position as GM. With a unique and intentional approach to both staff and customers, Cory has a genuine desire to serve others with a “get it right” approach, providing a great experience right here in the Lebanon Valley.

Jamie LaFleur

As the Marketing Director, Event Coordinator, and Bar Manager, Jamie wears many hats for Lebanon Valley Craft Brewery. She has been with the organization since day one, and her creative touch is everywhere…from the labels of their beers to the names of those beers (Spunky Monk is a personal fav). Jamie has worked tirelessly at managing special events, from events in the parking lot before the brewery doors were ever opened to the events that go on today in their spacious taproom. She is a Jack (or in this case “Jamie”) of all trades, taking on the roles of manager, bartender, server, hostess, social media guru… whatever it takes to ensure a good experience for the guest. But Jamie’s service also extends beyond the brewery… just recently, she organized a successful fundraiser for a bullet proof vest for the City of Lebanon’s new police dog! Whether it’s serving a beer or serving the community, Jaime goes above and beyond, always leaving a positive, lasting impression of the Lebanon Valley.

Antonio Lambakis

Antonio infectious smile is the often the first thing you notice when you walk up to Buddy’s Breakfast & Lunch stand at the Lebanon Farmer’s Market. Through his positive attitude and dedication to customer service, Antonio helps customers immediately feel welcomed… though they surely need no help feeling hungry when they see (and smell) the delicious sandwiches and cheesesteaks being prepared behind the counter! Antonio is committed to providing the highest level of customer service and takes great pride in his work. The market is a gathering place in the Valley, and we are glad Antonio is there to provide an inviting and friendly atmosphere. He is a true asset, not just to the Lebanon Farmers Market, but the Lebanon Valley as a whole.

Dwayne Spencer

As the owner of the Timeless Café, Dwayne Spencer offers a can’t-miss menu full of culinary delights made from locally sourced ingredients. He has his own apiary which produces the delicious honey he sells and uses in his recipes, and he even hand-carves charcuterie boards, each of which is its own masterpiece. Dwayne was even featured on the cover of last year’s Visit Lebanon Valley Visitors Guide holding one of his beautiful charcuterie boards. At Timeless Café, Dwyane and his team serve the community in downtown Lebanon with not just amazing food, but compassionate and friendly service. Through the professionalism and care that he shows to his staff and clients, Dwayne showcases a Taste of the Lebanon Valley in more than just the dishes he creates!

Michael Weber

Mike has been an outstanding ambassador for the unique history and culture of the Lebanon Valley since 2019.  As a weekly volunteer at the Cornwall Iron Furnace, he leads guided tours, talks, and lectures to thousands of visitors both in-person and virtually. Being a trained geologist, Mike has also educated the furnace staff and visitors about the national importance of the Cornwall Ore Mines and how they contributed to the growth of the regional iron industry and economy. Through his specialized expertise, in addition to his friendly and welcoming demeanor, Mike has become a popular speaker for the Furnace, always going the extra mile to help our visitors leave with a better sense of how Lebanon County fits into the fabric of our nation.

Lebanon County Career & Technology Center
Hospitality Program

The Culinary and Pastry Arts Programs at the Lebanon County Career and Technology Center provide students with real-world experiences and an invaluable education within a wide range of cooking and baking techniques. These programs are nationally recognized and certified, and the Pastry Arts program was the first nationally recognized and certified secondary program in the country by the American Culinary Federation Education Foundation (ACF). The students enrolled in these programs also run and operate a retail pastry shop and a full-service restaurant, known as “The Hilltop Café”, both of which are open to the public Wednesday through Friday. Through the instruction of the CTC’s trusted educators alongside these real-world experiences, students are prepared for a multitude of career paths within the hospitality industry. These students are truly the future of the hospitality industry… so rest assured that the future is in good hands!

Español »