Lawry’s Beef Bowl resumed Thursday after a two-year coronavirus-related interruption with the University of Utah’s football team dining at the Beverly Hills prime rib restaurant.
The Utes’ victory over USC in the Pac-12 Football Championship Game gave them an opportunity to participate in an event they were unable to last year.
“Walking off that bus, the band (playing) all the people clapping at us, that was awesome,” said offensive tackle Falcon Kaumatule, who conducted the salad spin. “I’ve never been in a restaurant quite like this before. It’s really a beautiful place.”
Lawry’s famous `Spinning Salad’ involves the designated server making the salad tableside in a bowl set into a large bucket of ice with the dressing poured on top as it is spun, then served.
Backup quarterback Bryson Barnes performed the ceremonial first cut of prime rib.
“I didn’t find out I was doing this until I got here and I looked at the program on the table,” said Barnes, whose name was on the media schedule distributed well in advance of the event.
“I didn’t really know what the hell was going on and what I was going to do but they grabbed me, kind of explained everything that was going to happen.”
Barnes joked that there were “some techniques I got to clean up.”
Since 2018, each portion of the Beef Bowl has included the presentation of the Tournament of Roses Scholar Athlete Award to a player from each team.
The Utah recipient was safety R.J. Hubert who said he attributed the award “to the determination that I’ve gotten over the years” and the motivation he has received from his mother, Anne.
“She’s always been one that’s helped lead me in the right direction,” Hubert said. “In terms of executing everything, my wife (Shayla) has been a tremendous help.”
Hubert is majoring in communication. He said he has not decided what he will do after his football career ends.
“I would like to take some entrepreneurial steps,” Hubert said.
The Rose Bowl teams annually participated in the Beef Bowl from 1956 though 2019. The Beef Bowl is older than all but the Rose, Orange, Sugar, Sun, Cotton, Gator and Citrus bowls. It is billed by organizers as college football’s most enduring pre-bowl game tradition.
Lawry’s Beef Bowl was not held in 2020 because the Rose Bowl, which was a College Football Playoff Semifinal, was relocated to Arlington, Texas, based on “the growing number of COVID-19 cases in Southern California along with the inability to host player and coach guests at any game in California,” according to a statement from the Pasadena Tournament of Roses.
The 2021 event was canceled one day before its planned start “given the growing concerns around COVID-19 and the Omicron variant,” the restaurant announced. Lawry’s packaged and delivered takeout meals for the players instead.
Shortly after the announcement of the cancellation Lawry’s The Prime Rib announced it would close in-restaurant dining until the first week in January 2022 due to what it called “unforeseen challenges and staffing issues related to the pandemic in recent weeks.”
Lawry’s Beef Bowl has not been a competition to see who can eat the most beef since 1970. Coaches are now informed that there is a limit of two servings of prime rib per player.
“The purpose of the event is to honor champion student-athletes for their achievement as a team of making it to the Rose Bowl Game,” said Richard R. Frank, the chairman of the board of Lawry’s Restaurants Inc., whose late father, Richard N. Frank, conceived the Beef Bowl in 1956, shortly after becoming Lawry’s president.
“The meal is a large part of the celebration because these are young men with enormous appetites, but it’s more about celebrating together away from the practice field in a legendary setting.”
Penn State, Utah’s opponent in Monday’s 109th Rose Bowl Game, is set to participate Friday.