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Good ‘Burger Awards highlight what makes St. Pete ‘special’

Mark Parker



Sandy Bean (center), CEO of St. Pete Girl Boss, was named the 2023 Most Valuable 'Burger. She was joined on stage by Shawn Drouin (left), master of ceremonies, and Chris Steinocher, president of the St. Petersburg Area Chamber of Commerce. Photos by Mark Parker.

“Funky,” “unique” and “authentic” were oft-repeated adjectives several local leaders used to describe the 11th annual Good ‘Burger Awards and the people and businesses it showcased.

Coastal Creative’s eclectic venue hosted the Tuesday night celebration, initially scheduled for Nov. 14 at Jannus Live. Inclement weather forced the St. Petersburg Area Chamber of Commerce to postpone and merge the Good ‘Burgers with one of its other signature events, St. Pete Pitch Night.

The secret sauce was over 25 volunteers and 12 employees who ensured the “mashup” went off without a hitch. Over 600 people attended what Chamber president Chris Steinocher called a “community event – for the community, by the community” – before heading onstage.

“We’re just blessed to have so many people giving so much to St. Pete,” Steinocher told the Catalyst. “But I got to be honest, it’s what I see all year. That’s St. Pete in a nutshell – that give.”

The ceremony’s moniker is a tribute to a former mayor who referred to his constituents as ‘Burgers, as in St. Petersburg-ers. Residents vote for finalists in nine categories, with winners receiving an award, bragging rights and the opportunity to promote themselves or their business.

In 2022, the Chamber created the Sunshine Award to recognize champions for change. This year’s recipient took home $50,000, Good ‘Burger’s first monetary prize.

The Foundation for a Healthy St. Pete (FHSP) won the inaugural award and decided to pay it forward in 2023. Marcus Brooks, executive director for FHSP’s Center for Health Equity, said the $50,000 gift would help eliminate barriers faced by those who work to create a more equitable St. Pete

Before announcing the winners, Steinocher explained why the city’s annual awards ceremony is unique. He said most similar events occur in a hotel ballroom with groups of people stoically watching from large tables while eating chicken dinners.

Steinocher said there “is nothing wrong” with any of those aspects. However, he “wanted to have a party” that “reflects St. Pete.”

“This is how St. Pete does it,” Steinocher added. “This is how we’re going to continue to do it. We’re on a roll.”

The top award goes to the MVB – the most valuable ‘Burger – for creating a personal, positive community impact. Mayor Ken Welch was among the 10 finalists

In his opening remarks, Welch talked about the civic benefits that the $6.5 billion Historic Gas Plant District redevelopment and keeping the Tampa Bay Rays in St. Petersburg would provide. He also credited his fellow finalists and attendees for helping the city shed any feelings of regional inferiority.

“You all are the folks that make our city what it is – that make it that funky St. Pete,” Welch said. “We just got to keep it special; we got to keep it authentic as we move forward. You’re all Good ‘Burger award winners, and I’m so proud to be your mayor.”

Tampa Bay Rays president Brian Auld (left) and Mayor Ken Welch were among 10 finalists for the MVB Award.

Here are the 2023 Good ‘Burger Award winners:








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  1. Avatar

    Dan Collins

    December 14, 2023at9:26 pm

    Seriously? Go to El Cap and get a real hamburger.

  2. Avatar

    S. Rose Smith-Hayes

    December 13, 2023at7:53 pm

    So happy that some of my choices won. This is a good civic Event.

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