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Hospitality Industry Hall of Honor to Induct Best Western Founder, M.K. Guertin
and Houston Restaurant Family, the Pappas Brothers
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HOUSTON, August 12, 2009— The Hospitality Industry Hall of Honor will soon induct a 2009 class that includes the founder of The World’s Largest Hotel Chain® and a trio of brothers who turned the family business into a regional dining juggernaut and became the face of the booming Houston restaurant market. 

M.K. Guertin (1891-1970), founder of Best Western, and the Pappas brothers— Harris, Chris and Greg—will take their place alongside hospitality’s all-time greats at the annual induction ceremony slated for Wednesday, October 14, at the Conrad N. Hilton College of Hotel and Restaurant Management at the University of Houston.  Since 1996, the Hilton College has been home to the Hospitality Industry Hall of Honor, which recognizes excellence in hospitality leadership.

David Kong, president and CEO of Best Western International, will accept the honor on Guertin’s behalf. Harris and Chris Pappas will accept on behalf of their brother, Greg, who died in 1995. 

With this year’s inductees, the Hospitality Industry Hall of Honor will have exactly 50 members, each of whom has made outstanding contributions to the domestic or international hospitality industry. The list of past inductees reads like a “who’s who” of the industry, including such names as J.W. Marriott, Ray Kroc, Curtis Carlson, Ernest and Julio Gallo, Walt Disney and Conrad N. Hilton, as well as his sons, Barron and Eric. 

“The Hospitality Industry Hall of Honor provides a vehicle for all of us to celebrate the icons of our industry, and to allow our memories of them and their accomplishments to live on,” said Thomas W. Lattin, a professor at the Hilton College and the managing director of the Hospitality Industry Hall of Honor. “It also provides the College with national and international exposure and an opportunity for students to establish relationships with industry leaders.”

The event has grown from its inception as an intimate dinner and induction ceremony into a week-long affair featuring “Think Tank” sessions and roundtable discussions with Hall of Honor members, allowing students the chance to interact with industry heavyweights. These sessions serve not only as excellent networking opportunities, but also as extensions of classroom learning and as springboards for new ideas and fresh perspectives. The event, which is managed by a student board of directors, also includes an industry luncheon and a reunion dinner for former inductees. 

“One of the unique aspects of Hall of Honor is that it brings a number of the top leaders from the various sectors of the industry together, in one place, to have a dialogue with our students,” said John Bowen, dean of the Hilton College. “And this year it’s especially exciting because we’re able to honor the Pappas brothers who have been such valuable partners and supporters of the College through the years. They are truly part of the Hilton College family and it will be a real pleasure to see them take their deserved place among hospitality’s greatest names.” 

Members of the Hall of Honor Board of Overseers, including representatives of the American Hotel & Lodging Association, the National Restaurant Association, the Travel Industry Association of America, the International Hotel and Restaurant Association and the American Gaming Association, nominate and elect each year’s new inductees into the Hospitality Industry Hall of Honor in the fall.

M.K. Guertin and Best Western

M.K. Guertin, who was born in the town of Liberty near Houston, developed a revolutionary branding concept that has allowed Best Western to become The World’s Largest Hotel Chain®, with more than 4,000 hotels in 80 countries and territories. His business model— providing marketing and supply-side support while giving owners maximum flexibility to address local demand—has become the standard in the hospitality industry. But when Guertin founded Best Western in 1946, it was a new concept that took the industry by storm. As David Kong, president and CEO of the company, said, “It transformed hoteliers from competitors to collaborators.” 

Kong, who will be on hand in October to accept the honors for Guertin, said he is truly grateful for the opportunity. “It’s a tremendous honor to helm the organization that M.K. Guertin founded more than 60 years ago, and to preside over his induction to the Hospitality Hall of Honor,” Kong said. “M.K. understood that, while product is important, the essence of hospitality lies in the service experience. As a result, Best Western hotels today still have that important family-run feel, and our owner-operators have a major voice in the direction of the brand.” 

Kong said he is also excited about interacting with students at the industry Think Tank sessions. 

“The hospitality business has changed dramatically during the last 10 years, a period which has given consumers the ability to check quality and price with unprecedented ease,” Kong said. “Add the trials and tribulations of a down economy and it’s easy to see that, more than ever, hotel brands need to be at the top of their game. I enjoy interacting with tomorrow’s hospitality leaders because it gives me insight into how the industry will continue to adapt, while at the same time reinforcing that a warm welcome and a clean, comfortable bed will always be the heart of our business.”
 

M.K. Guertin
(1891-1970)
Founder of Best Western International Hotels

Best Western was founded in 1946 by M.K. Guertin, a California-based hotelier with 23 years of experience in the lodging industry. His idea of an informal referral system between hotels has grown into the World’s Largest Hotel Chain®, a title maintained for over 30 years with over 4,000 independently owned and operated member hotels in 80 countries and territories. Thanks to Guertin’s vision of a brand built on the collective wisdom of its membership, Best Western has become an iconic institution that hosts 400,000 worldwide guests each night.

The Guertin family emigrated from Anjou, France to Quebec in 1653. Guertin was born on Jan. 18, 1891, in Liberty, Texas (pop. 800), a sleepy river community northeast of Houston. His mother, Cecelia Key, was a direct descendent of Francis Scott Key, author of the American national anthem.

After some schooling, Guertin apprenticed in the printing trade, eventually becoming a stenographer. In 1923, he left his home state of Texas for California, where he quickly became involved in the fledgling motel business. He managed advertising for three Long Beach properties owned by his sister and, in 1925, founded the nation’s first motel association, the Southern California Auto Court Association.

In 1933, Guertin pinned $2,000 to his undershirt, headed out to buy Long Beach’s Cherry Court Motor Lodge, and took a step toward changing the hospitality business forever. His 1938 purchase of the Beach Motel would become the world’s first Best Western Hotel. But the “perfect storm” that would enable Guertin to build his brand began brewing with the conception of the U.S. highway system in the 1940s and 50s.

On a road trip from Long Beach to Tacoma, Washington, Guertin noted which motels were placed within a “tank of gas” drive of one another. He then published a guide that can rightfully be called the precursor to today’s GPS. Guertin also talked with moteliers en route about agreeing to standards of cleanliness, respectability and service, so that referrals could be made freely and without hesitation.

Today’s Best Western members remain true to their historical profile: entrepreneurs helping each other, with no one compromising his unique vision or understanding of local need.

Still, it may be that Guertin’s deepest footprint lay elsewhere. His revolutionary business agenda — to provide marketing and supply-side support while giving owners maximum flexibility to address local demand — has impacted hoteliers and guests alike. The model is directly responsible for Best Western’s broad and rich property portfolio; whether a castle or a cabin, each Best Western Hotel is committed to providing a comfortable and reliable experience to business and leisure travelers alike.

Moreover, Guertin’s innovative approach has been a boon to hotel developers nearly everywhere in the world. In a letter written in 1947, M.K. Guertin reported to members the cost of organizing and operating Best Western. He noted that he had inspected 507 motels and driven 4,956 miles in 29 days. The total cost of this inspection, including “meals, postage, printing, telephone, mimeographing and thumbtacks,” was approximately $2,200. Guertin stated: “As the big job of organizing is over and we now have volunteer workers in every district, the cost of operating the association should not amount to more than $10 or $12 per month.”

Today, Best Western International continues to offer developers brand membership with low entry costs and the most practical ownership transfer mechanisms in the business. As a result, Best Western has become a brand of choice among both ambitious first-time investors and the savviest development groups. Best Western’s totally company revenue is now estimated at $7 billion.

M.K. Guertin died on April 14, 1970, in his adopted home of Long Beach. At the time, he was still actively engaged in crafting Best Western bylaws and policy. Roy Coxwell, a charter member of Best Western, described “Mr. Motel” as “a great guy, a terrific promoter with a first-class imagination.” Guertin's daughter, Ernestine, added, “Best Western was made successful by its members—the ones who operated their own properties and took the time to become familiar with the programs.”

The Pappas Brothers

H.D. Pappas emigrated from Greece at the turn of the century, and made his way to Dallas, opening restaurants along the way. His sons, Jim, Pete, Tom and George, founded Pappas Refrigeration in Houston, a regional restaurant equipment supplier. They opened their first restaurant—the Dot Coffee Shop—in 1967 and never looked back.  Jim’s sons, Harris, Chris and Greg, came on board after college. The brothers went on to build the family business into one of the most respected names in the restaurant industry.

Today, Pappas Restaurants operates eight successful brands – Pappas Seafood House, Pappasito’s Cantina, Pappadeaux Seafood Kitchen, Pappas Bar-B-Q, Pappas Bros. Steakhouse, Pappas Grill Steakhouse, Pappas Burger, Yia Yia Mary’s Pappas Greek Kitchen, plus the original Dot Coffee Shop. All told, this privately owned company operates nearly 100 restaurants in seven states, not to mention a very successful catering business in the Houston, Dallas, Austin and San Antonio markets. Harris and Chris Pappas also serve as president and CEO, respectively, of Luby’s Inc., which operates more than 120 restaurants in five states, serving up southern cuisine in a cafeteria setting. The brothers became majority shareholders in the company in 2001. 

Harris Pappas, the president of Pappas Restaurants, said he is not only thrilled to join this elite group of hospitality legends, but he is also excited to return to the Hilton College, which he said has produced some of the company’s finest employees. 

“Just being recognized with current and previous Hospitality Hall of Honor inductees is incredible,” Harris said. “The hospitality industry as a whole greatly benefits from an institution of this caliber. In addition to a great education, Hilton College students also receive real-world experience. As long as the Hilton College continues to produce top-notch students in the area of hospitality, quality-driven companies like Pappas will continue to benefit. We have had the privilege of working with Hilton College graduates over the years, and have watched many work their way up to leadership positions in our organization. Others have used their experience as a step toward achieving success in fields and careers outside the hospitality industry. ” 

CEO Chris Pappas, who is a member of the Dean’s Advisory Board at the Hilton College and an Honorary Alumnus (’94), said he and Harris are especially proud to accept the honor for their late brother, Greg. At the time of his death, Greg was vice president of Construction and Design, using his talent for architecture and mechanical engineering to design first-rate visual concepts for each Pappas restaurant. 

“For Harris and me, this is especially meaningful as our brother, Greg, is being honored as well,” Chris said. “Greg, Harris and I never set out to achieve recognition as great hospitality leaders when we began this journey.  We simply wanted guests to enjoy our cooking in a fun, festive atmosphere with consistently outstanding service and an abundance of value.  We also have to recognize the many wonderful employees we’ve been fortunate enough to work with over the years.  Those employees made our success and this honor possible by lending their talents to the organization and supporting our vision for the Pappas brand.”
 

Christopher J. Pappas
CEO, Pappas Restaurants, Inc.
President and CEO, Luby's, Inc.

Pappas Restaurants, Inc. is a privately owned company that operates nearly 100 restaurants in seven states. Luby's, Inc., founded over 50 years ago, is a publicly traded cafeteria chain with over 120 locations in five states.

Chris Pappas has 30 years of operational management experience in the restaurant industry and is actively involved both in the general operations of all of the Pappas restaurants and in the development of new sites and concepts. The roots of Pappas Restaurants stretch back to Pappas Refrigeration Company, a family-owned major distributor of restaurant equipment and supplies. Today, the family business has expanded to include nine brands—Pappas Seafood House, Pappasito's Cantina, Pappadeaux Seafood Kitchen, Pappas Bar-B-Q, Pappas Bros. Steakhouse, Pappas Grill Steakhouse, Pappas Burger, Pappas Pizza, Yia Yia Mary's Pappas Greek Kitchen, plus the original Dot Coffee Shop. Pappas Restaurants also operates a very successful catering business in the Houston, Dallas, Austin and San Antonio markets.
In March of 2001, Chris joined Luby's, Inc. as the company's chief executive officer and joined the company's Board of Directors. Over the past eight years, Chris and his brother Harris have applied their vast restaurant experience in their efforts to improve Luby's operations, with an emphasis on food quality and customer service.

Chris Pappas serves on the Boards of Directors for the Greater Houston Partnership and the Sam Houston Area Council of the Boy Scouts of America. He is also a member of the Dean's Advisory Board at the Conrad N. Hilton College of Hotel and Restaurant Management at the University of Houston. He was awarded the Hilton College's 1994 Honorary Alumnus Award and 1996 Volunteer of the Year Award.

Additionally, Chris is a member of the Board of Directors for the National Restaurant Association, the Texas Restaurant Association, the Greater Houston Restaurant Association and is an Advisory Board member of Amegy Bank. In 2001, he was inducted into the Texas Restaurant Association Hall of Honor. Active in the Greek Orthodox Church, Chris was recently named an Archon of the Ecumenical Patriarchate for his outstanding service.

Chris received his Bachelor's degree in Mechanical Engineering from The University of Texas at Austin. He and his wife Maria have been married 30 years and have five grown children.

Harris J. Pappas
President, Pappas Restaurants, Inc.
Chief Operating Officer, Luby's, Inc.

Harris J. Pappas is president of Pappas Restaurants, Inc., a privately owned company that operates nearly 100 restaurants in seven states. Today, the family business has expanded to include nine brands — the Pappas Seafood Houses, Pappasito's Cantinas, Pappadeaux Seafood Kitchens, Pappas Bar-B-Q's, Pappas Bros. Steakhouses, Pappas Grill Steakhouse, Pappas Burger, Pappas Pizza, Yia Yia Mary's Pappas Greek Kitchen, plus the original Dot Coffee Shop. The Pappas family also operates a very successful catering business in the Houston, Dallas, Austin and San Antonio markets.

Harris also serves as chief operating officer of Luby's, Inc. Luby's, founded over 50 years ago, is a publicly traded cafeteria chain with over 120 locations in five states.

Harris credits his success to his father, Jim, and his grandfather, H.D., who came to America from Greece in 1897, eventually opening his own restaurants. Jim and his brothers started Pappas Refrigeration, a restaurant equipment and supply distributor. In 1967, the brothers opened their first restaurant, Dot Coffee Shop, in downtown Houston. After their success with the Dot, the brothers then opened the first Pappas Bar-B-Q.

Beginning in 1970, Harris served as general manager of the three family-owned-and-operated restaurants in existence at that time. He now has over 30 years of operational management experience in the restaurant industry and is actively involved in both the general operations of all of the Pappas restaurants and in the development of new concepts.

Harris Pappas attended Schreiner Institute for two years in high school. He continued his education at Texas A&M University where he earned two Bachelor's degrees — one in Finance, the other in Accounting. Upon graduation from Texas A&M, he was commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant in the U.S. Army. He served one year in Thailand and one year in Vietnam and was awarded two Bronze Stars and three Army Commendation medals.

Harris gives generously of his time to civic and community affairs. He is a member of the Board of Directors of Oceaneering International, Inc., a publicly held firm, and also served a 10-year term on the Board of Trustees of Memorial Hermann Healthcare System in Houston. He is an advisory director of the Boys and Girls Clubs of Greater Houston and of Frost National Bank-Houston. He served a three-year term on the Board of Directors of Schreiner University and now serves on Schreiner's Advisory Board. He is also a member of the Texas A&M Foundation Development Advisory Committee and serves on the Education Development Council Advisory Committee. Harris received the Distinguished Alumnus Award from Texas A&M University in 2001 and the Outstanding Alumnus Award from the Texas A&M Mays College of Business in 1999.

A boating and fishing enthusiast, Harris also enjoys spending time with his wife, Vicky Marinos Pappas, and their six children.

Gregory J. Pappas
(1949-1995)
Vice President of Construction and Design
Pappas Restaurant, Inc.

Gregory J. Pappas was the vice president of Pappas Restaurants, Inc., where his love for architecture was realized through the building and innovative design of many Pappas restaurants throughout Texas.

Pappas Restaurants, Inc. began as Pappas Refrigeration Company, a family-owned major distributor for restaurant equipment and supplies from 1945 to 1985. In 1967, the Pappas family entered the restaurant industry. Greg was active in the refrigeration area of the business, in particular the design and installation of various types of refrigeration equipment. As a result of his involvement, Greg began an ice machine leasing company with over 200 accounts throughout the Houston area.

As Pappas Restaurants, Inc. began to expand into various concepts all across Houston, Greg moved into the design and construction of the restaurants, including Pappas Seafood House, Pappasito's Cantina, Pappadeaux Seafood Kitchen and the Dot Coffee Shop.

Greg worked as a general contractor, managing the structural, architectural, mechanical, and interior design of new restaurants, as well as service and remodel work on existing locations. Today, design, construction and service work is done almost entirely by in-house employees, a direct result of Greg’s work with the company.

Greg furthered his education at Texas A&M University and held a Bachelor’s degree in Industrial Distribution. After his graduation, he was certified in Refrigeration and Air Conditioning by Durham Technical College. Greg lived in Houston, where he was a member of the Greek Orthodox Church. He enjoyed skiing, golfing, attending sports events, and was an exotic car enthusiast. He always valued time spent with his extended family.

Previous Hospitality Industry Hall of Honor Inductees

2008
S.Truett Cathy
Sir Rocco Forte
Steve Rushmore

2007
Gary W. Loveman
Howard Schultz

2006
Ernest and Julio Gallo
Eric M. Hilton
Chris T. Sullivan

2005
Stephen F. Bollenbach
Joe Lee
Curtis Nelson

2004
Norman Brinker
John Q. Hammons
Mike Leven
Michael Rose
Roy Winegardner

2003
Sol Kerzner
Miguel Aleman Valdes
Tim & Nina Zagat

2002
Bill Norman
Jennie Grossinger and
Elaine Grossinger Etess

2001
Lynn & Ed Hogan
Alice Sheets Marriott
Marilyn Carlson Nelson
Gabriel Escarrer Julia

2000
Isadore Sharp
Preston Robert Tisch and
Laurence A. Tisch
Robert Dedman
Colonel Harland Sanders

1999
Howard Johnson
Paul Dubrule and Gerard Pelisson
Robert Crandall

1998
Barron Hilton
J. W. Marriott, Jr.
Walter Elias "Walt" Disney"

1997
Curtis Carlson
Ellsworth Statler
Ray Kroc
Lord Charles Forte

1996
Conrad N. Hilton
J. Willard Marriott
Vernon Stouffer
Kemmons Wilson

The 14th annual Hospitality Industry Hall of Honor is slated for October 14. The reception begins at 6 p.m., followed by the induction ceremony and dinner at 7 p.m. Think Tank sessions run October 13 and 14. For more information on both, or for ticket information, contact Shelley Clark at 713-743-3284 or srclark2@central.uh.edu. 

For more information on the Hospitality Industry Hall of Honor and UH Conrad N. Hilton College of Hotel and Restaurant Management, visit http://www.hrm.uh.edu/hhoh.

ABOUT THE UNIVERSITY OF HOUSTON 
The University of Houston, Texas’ premier metropolitan research and teaching institution, is home to more than 40 research centers and institutes and sponsors more than 300 partnerships with corporate, civic and governmental entities. UH, the most diverse research university in the country, stands at the forefront of education, research and service with more than 35,000 students. For more information about UH visit the university’s Newsroom at www.uh.edu/admin/media/newsroom 

ABOUT BEST WESTERN INTERNATIONAL 
Best Western International is THE WORLD’S LARGEST HOTEL CHAIN®, providing marketing, reservations and operational support to over 4,000* independently owned and operated member hotels in 80* countries and territories worldwide. An industry pioneer since 1946, Best Western has grown into an iconic brand that hosts 400,000* worldwide guests each night. Best Western’s diverse property portfolio, its greatest strength, stems from a business model designed to give owners maximum flexibility to address market-specific needs. Equally committed to the business and leisure traveler, Best Western recently embarked on a mission to lead the hotel industry in customer care. World Vision is the charity of choice for Best Western in building the world’s largest family, as our hotels and staff sponsor children in need around the globe. Since 2004, Best Western has served as the Official Hotel of NASCAR®. For more information or to make a reservation, please visit www.bestwestern.com.  *Numbers are approximate and can fluctuate. 

ABOUT PAPPAS RESTAURANTS, INC.
Pappas Restaurants, Inc., a family-owned and operated restaurant company, has been providing outstanding food, service and atmosphere for more than 40 years. With locations in Houston, Dallas, Austin, San Antonio, Atlanta, Chicago, Denver, Albuquerque, Cincinnati and Phoenix, our restaurant family now includes nearly 100 locations that have been voted among the best restaurants in North America in local, regional and national publications. Pappas concepts include Pappadeaux Seafood Kitchen, Pappasito’s Cantina, Pappas Bros. Steakhouse, Pappas Seafood House, Pappas Bar-B-Q, Pappas Burger, Pappas Grill Steakhouse, Yia Yia Mary’s Pappas Greek Kitchen, and Dot Coffee Shop. For more information, visit www.pappas.com.

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Contact:

Barrett Goldsmith  
 713/743-1509
 bgoldsmith@uh.edu

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Also See: Sir Rocco Forte, Steve Rushmore and S. Truett Cathy to be Inducted into the Hospitality Hall of Honor at University of Houston’s Conrad N. Hilton College of Hotel and Restaurant Management / August 2008
Howard Schultz, Chairman of Starbucks Coffee Company, and Gary Loveman, Chairman & CEO of Harrah’s Entertainment, to be Inducted into the 2007 Hospitality Hall of Honor at the Univeristy of Houston / August 2007
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