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
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
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.”
Founder of Best Western International Hotels
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
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.
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.
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
Vice President of Construction and Design
Pappas Restaurant, Inc.
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
Sir Rocco Forte
Gary W. Loveman
Ernest and Julio Gallo
Eric M. Hilton
Chris T. Sullivan
Stephen F. Bollenbach
John Q. Hammons
Miguel Aleman Valdes
Tim & Nina Zagat
Jennie Grossinger and
Elaine Grossinger Etess
Lynn & Ed Hogan
Alice Sheets Marriott
Marilyn Carlson Nelson
Gabriel Escarrer Julia
Preston Robert Tisch and
Laurence A. Tisch
Colonel Harland Sanders
Paul Dubrule and Gerard Pelisson
J. W. Marriott, Jr.
Walter Elias "Walt" Disney"
Lord Charles Forte
Conrad N. Hilton
J. Willard Marriott
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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
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,