Nation’s Restaurant News names Brinker International / It’s Just Wings winner of first CREATOR of the Year Award

CREATOR of the Year 2021 - Brinker International / It's Just Wings

CREATOR of the Year 2021 – Brinker International / It’s Just Wings

Nation's Restaurant News

Nation’s Restaurant News

The CREATOR of the Year was announced during the inaugural CREATE: The Future of Foodservice event, held Oct. 4-6 in Denver

NEW YORK, N.Y., U.S., October 6, 2021 / — Nation’s Restaurant News, the leading source for news and business intelligence for restaurant and foodservice professionals, has recognized Brinker International and its virtual brand It’s Just Wings as the winner of the first CREATOR of the Year award.

The CREATOR of the Year was chosen from the six winners of the 2021 CREATORS Awards, a new program from Nation’s Restaurant News that recognizes innovation in the restaurant industry.

Brinker International/It’s Just Wings, which was recognized as a CREATOR in the large brand category (200 units or more), stood out for the rapid development of the chicken wing-focused virtual brand, which launched in 2020 and quickly grew to more than 1,000 locations and $170 million in sales.

“We are thrilled to honor Brinker and It’s Just Wings with the first CREATOR of the Year award,” said Nation’s Restaurant News editor-in-chief Sam Oches. “The last year and a half have been marked by bold moves throughout the industry, but Brinker’s launch of It’s Just Wings stands out as one of the biggest.

“The speed and scale with which Brinker launched It’s Just Wings epitomizes not only the grit and perseverance of full-service restaurants, but also the creativity and forward thinking that will drive the industry’s recovery,” he added.

In addition to Brinker International/It’s Just Wings, the other winners of the 2021 CREATORS Awards and their respective categories are:
– Portillo’s (Brand CREATOR — 200 units or less)
– Big Red F (Independent CREATOR)
– Virtual Dining Concepts (Marketing CREATOR)
– Scott Boatwright, chief restaurant officer, Chipotle Mexican Grill (Operations CREATOR)
– James Fripp, chief equity and inclusion officer, Yum Brands Inc. (Leadership CREATOR)

The CREATOR of the Year was announced last night at a cocktail reception during the inaugural CREATE: The Future of Foodservice, a new event from Nation’s Restaurant News held Oct. 4-6 in Denver. Wade Allen, senior vice president and head of innovation for Brinker International, accepted the award on behalf of Brinker and It’s Just Wings. Winners of the 2021 CREATORS awards will also be featured today on a keynote panel.

CREATE is a unique new gathering where restaurant leaders come together to learn, discover and advance their careers and businesses. CREATE’s festival-style format ditches the old trade show model and puts attendees up close and personal with the best in foodservice leadership. Attendees from the largest chains to the most innovative emerging growth chains will come together to provide insightful presentations, drive meaningful conversations, build new relationships, and showcase foodservice innovations.

More than 50 speakers spoke at the event, including: Monty Moran, former co-CEO of Chipotle; Sheilina Henry, group vice president, diversity and inclusion, for Bloomin’ Brands; Michael Lastoria, CEO and co-founder of &pizza; Bill Phelps, CEO of Dave’s Hot Chicken; Damola Adamolekun, CEO of P.F. Chang’s; Brett Schulman, CEO of CAVA; Rob McColgan, CEO of Modern Market; and more.

Visit the CREATE event website at to learn more.

Nation’s Restaurant News (NRN) is the No. 1 source of business information for the foodservice industry. For more than 50 years, NRN has served the information and engagement needs of foodservice professionals, offering award-winning content across all mediums with the goal of driving businesses forward. NRN was named Best Media Brand by the Jesse H. Neal Awards in 2019. NRN is part of the Restaurant & Food Group by Informa Connect, the leading B2B integrated media group connecting products, solutions and thought leadership with the largest, most engaged and highly qualified audience in foodservice and food retail. The group connects the entire food and foodservice ecosystem of operators, chefs, retailers, manufacturers, vendors and solutions providers through traditional, digital, social and custom media as well as digital and live events. To learn more about NRN, visit

CREATE: The Future of Foodservice is the only digital and in-person experience of its kind, where restaurant leaders from the largest chains to the most innovative independents come together to learn from leading thinkers and change makers, discover products and services that will transform foodservice, and connect with like-minded peers forging new paths to advance the restaurant industry. Powered by NRN, CREATE provides on-demand content from restaurant thought leaders and industry experts; live sessions for Q&A and community interaction; small, curated virtual gatherings to tackle the most relevant topics; and a new festival-style, live event in October. To learn more about our CREATE digital experience, visit To learn more about our CREATE in-person event, visit

Informa Connect, a division of Informa plc, is a specialist in content-driven events and digital communities that allow professionals to meet, connect, learn and share knowledge. We operate major branded events in Global Finance, Life Sciences, Construction & Real Estate, Restaurant & Hospitality, and in a number of other specialist markets and connect communities online year-round. Learn more at


Jesse Yeung
Nation’s Restaurant News

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *