Al and Bina Patel have been waiting 23 years for validation from the business community for their highly principled approach to running Scott's Inn and Restaurant.
They took hits on their bottom line to make sure employees were retained and paid through the lean times.
They never skimped out on the best home-cooked meals and the most gracious service for clients, and are now seeing some of those clients' children and grandchildren.
And they took every opportunity to improve and grow their endeavour.
On Saturday, the Patels got that validation and they skipped and danced to the stage when they were awarded as the Kamloops Chamber of Commerce Tourism and Hospitality business of the year during the organization's annual gala.
It was the most heartwarming moment of the night, said Deb McClelland, chamber executive director.
"His acceptance speech, I don't think there was a dry eye in the place," she said. "It showed us at the chamber why we do this."
Self-proclaimed as the "best kept secret in Kamloops," the Patel family has owned the business on 11th Avenue and Nicola Street since 1989.
Originally from Fiji, Al Patel's Kamloops business venture began with every egg in his basket after his supermarket and theatre on Commercial Drive in Vancouver failed in the '80s recession.
"We came here beaten, you can say," he said, adding that he mortgaged the family's house to buy the property. "If it didn't work out, we'd be out on the street."
Patel said he hopes the award sends a message that there's more to running a business than the bottom line.
"It not only validates all our efforts, it also gives a stamp of approval to the properties in town that you can compete in the marketplace and improve your properties, give the people what they want, keep the standards up and do not let a piece of that service be compromised."
Al's son Atish has worked at the family business for 20 years and says the award was "huge" for everyone involved.
"It's such a prestigious honour especially being nominated beside Hotel 540 and (South Thompson Inn and Conference Centre)," said Atish. "Just the little Scott's Inn, but we're not so little anymore."
He said the award is shared among all staff members - some of whom have worked there more than 20 years - who make the business's dream of creating a home away from home a reality.
The Patels were among 21 award recipients with the most prestigious honour going to Kamloops businessman Todd Stone.
Stone is having quite the whirlwind year. First, he was the lone person to throw his hat into the ring to replace retiring Liberal MLA Kevin Krueger in the Kamloops-South Thompson during last August's nomination meeting.
And on Saturday, he won the Kamloops Chamber of Commerce businessperson of the year award for his role as president and CEO of iCompass Technologies.
"I'm doing my best to meet everyone's expectations," he laughed.
McClelland said the selection committee chose Stone after seeing his collaborative approach to business.
Stone credits his team as well as his wife Chantal for the success and growth of iCompass over the last 14 years.
"It's a fun, highly participatory culture," he said. "Good, bad or ugly, when you're faced with challenges, it's better to have 20 or 30 bright minds . . . helping you through those challenges than to try and pretend that you have all the answers yourself."
The biggest surprise of the evening was for recently retired Daily News editor Mel Rothenburger.
He thought he was merely enjoying a night of celebration for the business community - little did he know he would be handed the President's Award.
The prize is only given at the president's discretion and not necessarily every year. Chamber leader Maurice Hindle decided it was time to recognize Rothenburger for his four decades of service as editor, chamber board member and mayor, to name only a few of his roles.
"There are just so many levels to Mel's contribution to the community," said McClelland.
Rothenburger said he was stunned and humbled.
"This is really an honour," he said. "I've always believed that journalists should be involved in the community rather than simply observing it and offering advice and reporting on it. That they should be willing to step up and take part."
And the winners are:
• Nominations were received from Kamloops citizens for 168 local businesses among 244 nominations received.
• Winners for 16 of the awards were chosen by an independent selection committee.
• Business of the Year was chosen by the Chamber board along with Community Futures, the award sponsor.
• The President's Award is given solely at the discretion of the President and is awarded to someone who has made a difference in the community. Winners of this year's awards:
• Excel Personnel Business Person of the Year - Todd Stone, iCompass Technologies Inc.
• Community Futures Business of the Year - Kamloops Ford Lincoln
• Home Hardware First Nations Business of the Year - Sun Ridge Equipment Ltd.
• Kamloops Business Magazine Young Entrepreneur of the Year - Krishna Lakkineni, ROI Media Works
• Aberdeen Mall Retailer Award (1-10 Staff) - Portfolio Interiors
• Underwriters Insurance Brokers Retailer Award (11+ Staff) - Kamloops Ford Lincoln
• BDC Manufacturer Award - Trout Creek International Homes
• Tourism & Hospitality Award - Scott's Inn and Restaurant
• BCLC Technology Innovator Award - Netshift Media Inc.
• KGHM Ajax Mining Incorporated Home Based Business of the Year - TLC for Pets
• Berwick on the Park Service Provider Award (1-10 Staff) - Summit Gourmet Meats
• Kamloops Lincoln Service Provider Award (11+ Staff) - Kamloops Home Hardware Building Centre
• Venture Kamloops Resource Industry Award - Highlands Irrigation Ltd.
• BC Hydro Power Smart Green Award 1-10 staff - Think Green Painting
• RBC Royal Bank Green Award 11+ staff - Stantec
• City of Kamloops Community Service Award - Canadian Western Bank
• President's Award - Mel Rothenburger