Dennis Color1 Original 1

The Galveston Regional Chamber of Commerce proudly announces the exceptional lineup of honorees set to receive prestigious awards at the upcoming 179th Annual Meeting on Saturday, January 13, 2024, hosted in conjunction with the Inaugural Galveston Island Country Music Fest at the Galveston Island Convention Center.

Dennis Byrd, Island Famous, will be recognized as the esteemed recipient of the 2023 “Nonno” Tony Smecca Galvestonian of the Year award, a tribute presented by the Galveston Regional Chamber of Commerce to individuals who significantly contribute to the advancement of the Galveston business community.

“Dennis Byrd’s transformative leadership at Island Famous exemplifies innovation and revitalization within our community,” states Gina M. Spagnola, President and CEO of the Chamber. “From his early accolades as our Entrepreneur of the Year in 2016 to now receiving our highest honor as Galvestonian of the Year, Dennis has continually shaped the landscape of our region’s business success.”

Known for his remarkable journey, Dennis Byrd, President of Island Famous, began his career at The Spot in Galveston, holding multiple roles and garnering an intimate understanding of restaurant operations. His pivotal acquisition of The Spot in 2002 marked a turning point, swiftly transforming the struggling establishment into a profitable venture within a year. Today, The Spot is a bustling beachfront destination hosting 750,000 guests annually.

Byrd’s entrepreneurial flair extended to transforming an underperforming beachfront hotel into the upscale DoubleTree by Hilton Galveston Beach in 2015. His success continued with the addition of the Holiday Inn Express & Suites in 2019, cementing his reputation for revitalizing high-quality hotels in exclusive locations.

Expressing his gratitude, Byrd commented, “Receiving this recognition is a testament to the dedication of our team and the unwavering support of the Galveston community. It’s an honor to contribute positively to the growth and prosperity of our beloved city.”

Dennis Byrd’s visionary approach has extended Island Famous beyond Galveston’s shores. Most recently, he expanded his business onto the mainland, including The Spot in League City and two other locations within William P. Hobby Airport, further solidifying the brand’s reach and influence across the region.

The awards ceremony will also highlight outstanding contributions from various entities:

  • Galveston College will be honored with the Christie Mitchell Beachcomber Award, celebrating their significant promotion of Galveston Island, reminiscent of Christie Mitchell’s legacy.
  • Carnival Cruise Line will receive the National Economic Impact Award in acknowledgment of their substantial economic contributions and pivotal role in propelling Galveston’s local tourism economy.
  • Elitecare Emergency Hospital will be lauded as the Regional Business of the Year for their exemplary business practices, community engagement, and significant regional economic impact.

Recognizing commitment to nurturing young professionals, the “Vic Pierson” C-Crewe Award will be presented to Erin and Beau Yarbrough, founding members of C-Crewe. Additional accolades include the President’s Award of Excellence for Steven Conner of Regent Care Center; Large Business of the Year including Texas First Bank in recognition of 50 years and Zero Six Consulting; as well as the distinction of Small Businesses of the Year for District Rags, Fair Winds Pet Hospice, and RE/MAX Leading Edge. The Non-profit Organization of the Year will be awarded to the Galveston Seafarers Center.

Individual recognitions will also be accorded, such as the “Carol and Fred Wurst” Navigator of the Year Award to Renee Gibson of YES YourEventSource and the Young Professional of the Year to Urs Schmid of Saltwater-Recon.

Furthermore, the event will witness the transition of leadership as Steven Conner, the 2023 Chair of the Galveston Regional Chamber of Commerce board of directors, passes the historic wheel to Keith Bassett, Chair for 2024.

The event will feature captivating performances by headliner Randall King, joined by the stellar talents of renowned Texas rising stars – Hayden Haddock and Catie Offerman. Their exceptional artistry promises to elevate the event, infusing an additional layer of dynamism and energy into the already vibrant celebration of business excellence.

For more details about the event and honorees, please click here or contact Lindsay Touchy, Vice President for the Galveston Regional Chamber of Commerce at (409) 763-5326 or via email at