Nick Sarra is Chief Operating Officer for Saltwater Restaurants Inc. which includes 9 iconic high-volume restaurants with over 1,000 employees across the Florida panhandle, a sizable beachfront shopping & dining venue, and an award-winning golf course. Sarra’s 40-year career began as a busser at the Sonesta Hotel in Connecticut and followed with an associate degree in Culinary Arts and bachelor’s in Hotel & Restaurant Management from Johnson & Wales University. His management career started at our nation’s capital in Washington D.C. as part of the Specialty Restaurant Division of Gilbert Robinson, including Charlie’s Place Bar & Grill, H.I. Ribsters, and Hogate’s Seafood. After moving to the Gulf coast, Sarra operated many well-known establishments before opening his first restaurant nearly 20 years ago.
Sarra dedicates his time to the FRLA Minimum Wage Working Group, is an active member and past-president of the FRLA Board of Directors Northwest Florida Chapter, and serves on the Okaloosa County Tourism Development Council.
Olivia Hoblit has more than 22 years of experience in the hospitality industry and is a Regional Manager with Innisfree Hotels, where she oversees Seaside Amelia Inn and the new dual-Marriott brand Courtyard/Springhill Suites in Amelia Island. She rejoined Innisfree Hotels in April 2020 after spending a year as Assistant Rooms Executive at The Ritz-Carlton, Amelia Island, a 446-room, AAA Five-Diamond luxury resort. While at The Ritz-Carlton, Hoblit served as a member of the team that successfully reopened The Ritz-Carlton, St. Thomas in 2019. She was nominated as “Marriott Ops Star” for going above and beyond operational expectations. During her previous tenure with Innisfree Hotels, she served for five years was the general manager of the Seaside Amelia Inn.
Prior to her position at Seaside Amelia Inn, Olivia spent seven years as the general manager of the highly acclaimed Elizabeth Pointe Lodge. Under her leadership and management with owners David and Susan Caples, she received numerous awards for the property, including Travel+Leisure’s 2013 World’s Best Awards where it ranked No. 25 on its list of Top 100 World’s Best Hotel, No. 3 Top Resort in Florida in 2012, and No. 2 Best Hotel in the Continental U.S. in 2008 Conde Nast Traveler’s Readers’ Choice Award. She also received a “Sharky Award from TravelShark in 2012 for Best Guest- Service General Manager.
Since January 2017, Olivia has served on the Executive Committee of FRLA. She also serves as a board member on the Amelia Island Tourist Development Council, Nassau County Chamber of Commerce, and is an Advisory Council member for the University of West Florida Global Hospitality and Tourism Management program. In 2018, she was named one of Florida’s leading women in lodging by Florida Restaurant & Lodging Magazine.
In 2016, Olivia and her husband Phil founded the Trinity Love Hoblit Foundation in honor of their daughter, Trinity, who passed away in 2015 from a brain aneurysm. Olivia serves as President of the foundation, which supports and funds neurological research, training, and treatment for brain aneurysms, strokes, and other cerebrovascular conditions.
Olivia is an active members of the Amelia Island community. Her son Joshua is at FSU majoring in economics and son Philip Jr., PJ, is a high school student at Bishop Kenny High School.
This year will mark 40 years of experience in Manatee County’s hospitality industry for John Horne, who began his career working summers at Fast Eddie’s Place while completing his Business degree at Clemson University. In 1995, John opened his first restaurant, Anna Maria Oyster Bar on the City Pier in Anna Maria, Florida. Today, Anna Maria Oyster Bar consists of four area restaurants of the same name that serve great seafood with unmatched hospitality at a great value.
John Horne is currently Vice Chairman of the Florida Restaurant & Lodging Association and the Chairman of the Board of Leadership Florida. Overseeing marketing and community relations for the Horne Hospitality Group, Amanda Horne works to encourage inclusivity in our community and has spent her career championing for access to educational opportunities. The Hornes have been recognized for their leadership and philanthropy by numerous organizations. One award of special significance to the Hornes is receiving the National Restaurant Association’s Restaurant Neighbor Award in 2018 for their work with their Dive into Reading program, a Summer Grade-Level Reading program for Title I schools in Manatee, Sarasota, and DeSoto Counties now entering its sixth summer. Last year they were recipients of the Manatee Chamber’s Bob P. Bartz Award for Outstanding Leadership and the Pace Center for Girls Statewide Believing in Girls Award for their years of dedication to girls including co-chairing a $6 Million Capital Campaign. The Anna Maria Oyster Bars have been named Small Business of the Year by the Greater Sarasota, Longboat Key and the Manatee Chambers of Commerce.
2022 brings the next evolution of the Horne’s hospitality group with the purchase of Sarasota’s iconic Café L’Europe.
Jim Shirley is a chef and restaurateur in South Walton, Florida, owning Great Southern Café, 45 Central Wine and Sushi Bar, and b.f.f. in Seaside, Florida, as well as The Bay Restaurant and Farm & Fire Southern Pizzeria in South Walton. He is also co-owner of Meltdown on 30A in Seaside. Jim was previously the president of the Northwest Florida FRLA chapter and president of the Escambia County chapter. He is currently the treasurer of FRLA’s Educational Foundation. Jim sits on the board of the Children’s Home Society and was formerly on the Seaside Neighborhood School board for three years. Jim represented Florida in the 2015 Great American Seafood Cook-Off. In addition, Jim has been invited to cook at the James Beard House in New York City four times. He is the author of the cookbook, “Good Grits! Southern Boy Cooks,” a compilation of his best recipes along with entertaining stories. Jim is the 2020 Van Ness Butler Jr. Award recipient. In 2020, Jim was appointed as Chairman of the Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association (FRLA).
Barbara Bowden is the Area Managing Director for Loews Hotels at Universal Orlando, overseeing the operation of the destination’s premier and preferred hotels, including Loews Portofino Bay Hotel, Hard Rock Hotel, Loews Royal Pacific Resort, and Loews Sapphire Falls Resort.
Previously, she served as the Complex Managing Director for Loews Sapphire Falls Resort and Loews Royal Pacific Resort at Universal Orlando, overseeing the operation of these two resort hotels, comprising 2,000 guest rooms and 250,000 square feet of meeting space.
Prior to joining Loews Hotels, Bowden served as general manager of the Orange County Convention Center. Before that, she spent 27 years with The Peabody Orlando, working her way through the ranks to become Vice President/General Manager.
In addition to her role on the FRLA Board, she also serves on the Visit Orlando Board of Directors, the Central Florida Hotel & Lodging Association Board of Directors Executive Committee and Governmental Affairs Committee, and the Rosen College Dean’s Advisory Board. Previously, Bowden served as Chair of the HSMAI Americas Board and as a member of the HSMAI Foundation board.
Since 2012, Roger Amidon has been the General Manager of Palm Beach Marriott Singer Island Beach Resort & Spa, where he is responsible for the operation of Palm Beach County’s only AAA Four-Diamond all-suite beachfront hotel. In 2014, Amidon was named General Manager of the Year for its Eastern Region Full-Service Hotels/Resorts, and under his expert leadership, Palm Beach Marriott Singer Island was named one of Marriott International’s Full-Service Hotels of the Year. Additionally, he was recognized by FRLA in 2015 as Hotel General Manager of the Year.
Amidon has worked in the hospitality sector since 1983. Joining Palm Beach Marriott Singer Island marked his return to the Marriott brand after serving three years as Executive Director of the Tourist Development Council of Palm Beach County. Prior to leading the Tourist Development Council, Amidon served Marriott in roles including Area General Manager for Marriott Palm Beach Gardens, Boca Raton Renaissance and Fort Lauderdale Marriott North. His regional tenure included General Manager positions for the Delray Beach Marriott and Sheraton at CityPlace.
Amidon provides leadership in a variety of industry and community organizations. Current and past positions include: Chairman of Discover the Palm Beaches; President of the Palm Beach County Hotel & Lodging Association; President of FRLA’s Palm Beach Chapter and board memberships with FRLA State Board, Singer Island Civic Association and Loggerhead Marine Life Center, Riviera Beach Business Council, Coalitions to Senior Leaders and Interns, SunFest, South Florida Fair and Palm Beach Gardens High School Five Star Magnet Advisory Council.
When not working or volunteering, Amidon enjoys golf, fishing, travel with his family and indulging in his passion for classic cars. Amidon and his wife, Tina, have two children and reside in Jupiter.