On January 7th, 2013, Jack Koumbis, of Assembly Steakhouse, passed the torch to George Vlahos, of Gusto Grill at the NJRA's Installation Dinner & Silent Auction held at the Grand Summit Hotel in Summit, NJ. Below is the speech given by the new Chairman, who is looking forward to serving his term.
“We represent an industry that holds new beginnings, beginnings for immigrants in a different world full of Oneira (dreams); a peaceful environment a parent can count on to teach their child the importance of earning and the work ethic needed to become our future nurses, doctors, lawyers and political leaders; the place our communities go to, to celebrate joy and find comfort in sorrow; the place the local charity depends on for donations & even a hot plate of food for those less fortunate; a place to celebrate new beginning and rejoice old ones.
You see, a restaurant is far more than its definition on dictionary.com (a commercial establishment where meals are prepared and served to customers).
The New Jersey Restaurant Association is bigger than the great state it represents. Our efforts touch the lives of those living well outside its borders; even as far away as a small town on the southern border of Greece, Dydyma, where a young, aggressive, hard working individual put his hopes in a large city in New Jersey. Elizabeth was my father’s new home, the place he chose to begin a new life, to start a family where he could earn a proper living, to watch his children grow & prosper.
Although his intent was far from becoming a restaurateur, it was a way an immigrant with an education level that did not exceed the 6th grade & a language barrier that far exceeds our imagination. But the efforts of those before him made it possible for him to fulfill his oneira of a future full of dignity where he was able to set the rules that dictated the success of his family.
Only with your support & our collective efforts, will we continue to make those dreams reality. We must work together putting our self interests and political gains aside & negotiate solutions that will benefit the future of our restaurants. We must gather our efforts in creating new excitement, & in dreaming new dreams. Let’s open our minds to new ideas, involve ourselves, seek new leaders & guide them.
There’s no end to a future that begins every day.