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 Conrad N. Hilton College's Hospitality Industry Hall of Honor Inducts
Best Western Founder M.K. Guertin and Houston-based
Restaurateurs Pappas Brothers

HOUSTON, October 21, 2009— Some of the biggest names in the hospitality industry were among the 250 guests who gathered at the Conrad N. Hilton College as the Hospitality Industry Hall of Honor inducted four new members. Entering the Hall of Honor are the late M.K. Guertin, founder of Best Western, and Chris, Harris and the late Greg Pappas who turned a third-generation family business into one of the most successful dining enterprises in the country.

David Kong, president and CEO of Best Western International, accepted the honor on Guertin’s behalf.  Kong, whose company now operates some 4,000 hotels in 80 countries and territories, told the story of a young Texan who in 1946 redefined the lodging industry, turning “competitors into collaborators.” 

Standing with the specially commissioned portrait of M.K. Guertin, founder of Best Western are (L-R) David Kong, president and CEO of Best Western International; Roman Jaworowicz, Best Western District 3 Board Director; and Dennis Pollman, grandson of M.K. Guertin. The portrait will hang in the Leaders Gallery at the Conrad N. Hilton College of Hotel and Restaurant Management at the University of Houston as a tribute to the personal achievements of M.K. Guertin. 
Chris and Harris Pappas, CEO and president of Pappas Restaurants, Inc., respectively, who accepted on behalf of their late brother, Greg, own and operate nearly 100 restaurants in seven states. Their eight unique brands include 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 opened by their father, Jim, and his three brothers, in 1967. Their grandfather, H.D. Pappas, came to the United States from Greece in 1897. 
Pictured L-R: Chris Pappas, CEO of Pappas Restaurants, Inc.; students Krystal Peay and Kendra McDaniel; Dr. John Bowen, Dean of the College; student Jamie Cooper; and Harris Pappas, President of Pappas Restaurants, Inc. 
Chris and Harris also serve as CEO and president, 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.
By becoming members of the Hospitality Industry Hall of Honor, Guertin and the Pappas Brothers join 49 previous inductees who include such industry icons as Conrad N. Hilton and his sons Eric and Barron, J.W. Marriott, Ray Kroc, Howard Johnson, Ernest & Julio Gallo and Walt Disney. 

The Hospitality Industry Hall of Honor recognizes outstanding contributions to the domestic and global hospitality industry, and the inductees are chosen by an independent Board of Overseers made up of members from the industry’s leading organizations, including 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. 

For more information on the Hospitality Industry Hall of Honor and UH Conrad N. Hilton College of Hotel and Restaurant Management, visit

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 

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  *Numbers are approximate and can fluctuate. 

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


Debbie Maurer

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

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