Bee Downtown Founder Among Big Winners at Voters’ Choice Awards Voters' Choice AwardsThe best in local dining, entertainment, retail and more were honored at the Voters’ Choice Awards (VCAs) Thursday night, January 10, 2019.

The awards ceremony, which was held at the Stateview Hotel, was hosted by WRAL’s Mikaya Thurmond. The “best of” ballot gave audience an opportunity to vote on their favorite people, businesses and services in the Triangle and other areas of North Carolina.

Bee Downtown founder Leigh-Kathryn Bonner was awarded the Woman on the Year.

“Wear your crown and wear it proud and know that you’re in the room for a reason,” Bonner told WRAL in August. “Be bold and strong and who you are and don’t ever apologize for being brilliant.”

Bonner, a Raleigh native, was recently named one of the most inspiring young entrepreneurs by INC magazine. Her company is trying to promote sustainable honey bee communities in urban areas during a time when the species is under an existential threat from climate change and pollution.

Get a full list of winners

Mikaya Thurmond

WRAL-TV Anchor Mikaya Thurmond hosts the Voters’ Choice Awards on Thursday, January 10, 2019.

Former WRAL anchor Bill Leslie, who retired last year, was voted best local celebrity, while WRAL Chief Meteorologist Greg Fishel took home the honor of Best WRAL-TV Personality.

The always popular food and drink category winners included a few repeat winners. The Redneck BBQ Lab (best BBQ), Rise Biscuits (best biscuits) and Bond Brothers (best brewery) won for the second year in the row. Morgan Street Food Hall was awarded the best new restaurant honor. The Angus Barn won two awards – best fine dining and best steakhouse.

How were winners selected?

In October, the nomination period opened on People were able to submit their picks. After several weeks, we revealed the top five finalists in every category. Voting for the winners remained open on until early December.

Thanks to’s Kathy Hanrahan for this capcom story & for these capcom photos.

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