Golden Plate Awards: Winners for cleanest Valley restaurants are...
Two restaurants in Hidalgo County have good reason to celebrate.
There is cake, balloons, even a dancing mascot to mark the crowning achievement on Food 4 Thought-- a Golden Plate Award.
Felix Burgers on 1345 East FM 495 in Alamo and Church's Chicken on Veteran's Boulevard in Palmview each win won has the two standout restaurants from 2012 for kitchen cleanliness.
"You are a 2012 golden plate award winner!" Action 4's Ryan Wolf said.
It's the highest honor bestowed by the Food Patrol.
The award is extra special for Felix Ramos, owner of Felix Burgers.
He saw business double after receiving his first top performer sticker for a zero demerit health report.
His expectations are high after winning a Golden Plate Award.
"I think it's going to triple!" he said with a huge smile on his face. "It helped Ryan. And this plaque means a lot to me. It means a lot to our workers and the whole community here."
Fans of the restaurant have long known about their quality burgers.
Jim Summers says it wasn't until the Food Patrol came around that word got out about the restaurant being top-notch clean.
"Before he got the sticker, we would come here and there would be 1 or 2 booths with people eating," Jim explained. "After he got the sticker every booth is full and there's a line at the door and has been every since he got the sticker."
In celebration of the restaurant's achievement, the owner named Action 4's Ryan Wolf on an outdoor sign with a special $1.69 burger for a limited time.
Ryan laughingly said that he doesn't believe his name on meat will do the trick but he does think a Golden Plate award will bring in more business.
"On behalf of Food Patrol fans Valley wide, congrats on the amazing work!" Ryan said.
Emotions ran high at the Church's in Palmview once staff received their Golden Plate.
"It is great to have this award because we work really hard," Dolores Cruz, general manager said with a tear in her eye. "Our team does too. The customers come first."
The Church's continues to earn accolades on Food 4 Thought for doing it right in the kitchen.
The restaurant's doors have a number of top performer stickers from over the years.
Dolores is the driving force behind the sticker stardom.
She shared one story of how being on the program has made her a recognizable face.
"I was in one pharmacy one time and I walked in and the guys says, 'I know you,' she recalled. And I said, 'I don't think so.' And he said, 'I remember... the food patrol!' He said congratulations, 'I heard your restaurant is great.' I said, 'Yes it is.' You should visit us sometime.'"
The restaurant is family owned and operated.
Mario Sanchez is the patriarch here.
"It's a great honor," he said. "This is for all our employees and management. They do a great job."
Board members from Palmview's Chamber of Commerce turned out for the celebration.
"It makes us very, very proud to have such a restaurant in our community," Leonel Lopez said.
Golden Plate Awards are only handed once a year.
Winners are selected based on inspection scores and community feedback.