St. Regis Atlanta general manager Simon Rusconi accepts the Buckhead Business of the Year award from new BBA president Lolita B. Jackson. (Photo by Leland Holder.)

The St. Regis Atlanta hotel and residences was named Buckhead Business of the year during the Buckhead Business Association’s annual luncheon Jan. 20, which also featured a keynote address by Atlanta Falcon’s owner Arthur Blank and the installation of the BBA’s first African-American president.

Three additional awards were presented to local businesses by the BBA at the luncheon: The Bullish on Buckhead Award was presented to Charlie Crawford of the Private Bank of Buckhead; the Buckhead Beautification Award went to Charlie Loudermilk and the Buckhead Theatre; andthe Buckhead Entrepreneur of the Year is Terry Moon of Pizzeria Venti.
Some 350 Buckhead and Atlanta business leaders and public officials attended the luncheon at the Atlanta History Center, where Lolita B. Jackson, of Georgia Power Co., was handed the association’s gavel by outgoing president Heather Wright, marking the first time in the BBA’s 60 years that an African-American has served as president.

Blank talked about the Falcons’ just completed football season, presented a positive outlook for the years ahead and discussed the needs not only for the team but for the city of Atlanta.

He said when he first bought the team, he asked the players what they would like to see him do for the team, since he can’t play the game, can’t call the plays and can’t do the recruiting. He said the players asked him to fill the seats in the Georgia Dome.

Falcons owner Arthur Blank speaks to BBA luncheon.

At the time, the seats were only about 50 percent filled for games, and half of those were filled with people supporting the opposing teams, he said.  Now the stands regularly are filled – as were the seats available to hear his talk before the association. Blank spoke to a record number of people attending the annual BBA luncheon, said former association president Elizabeth Gill.

Simon Rusconi, general manager of St. Regis Atlanta accepted the Business of the Year Award for the hotel and residences, which is located at 88 West Paces Ferry Road and includes amenities such as an ice skating rink and afternoon tea. The St. Regis staff volunteers time and money with Meals on Wheels, the LifeSouth Blood Drive, Hosea Feed the Hungry, the Susan G. Komen Foundation and Mothers Advocates Against Violence.

Simon Rusconi (left) accepted the Buckhead Business of the Year award for the St. Regis Atlanta and Terry Moon of Pizzeria Venti won the Entrepreneur of the Year award.

The hotel was selected the overall business of the year over three other winners of runner-up awards: Bistro Niko restaurant, fab’rik women’s clothing and accessories boutique, and Holeman & Finch Public House restaurant.
Niko Karatassos, operations manager for the Buckhead Life restaurant group and for Bistro Niko, accepted the plaque for the restaurant, which is located in the heart of Buckhead at 3344 Peachtree Road. The Bistro Niko and Buckhead Life restaurants work closely with Share Our Strength, the Atlanta Community Food Bank, Project Open Hand and other charitable organizations which promote the fight against hunger.
Owner Dana Sinola of the 12 fab’rik boutiques, which features stylish products priced under $100, encourages customers to clean out their closets four times a year so those in need can fill theirs at “free fab’rik” events. The Buckhead store is at 3400 Around Lenox.
Owner Chef Linton Hopkins was on hand to accept the plaque for Holeman & Finch Public House, the late night pub offering of Atlanta native Hopkins, located at 2277 Peachtree Road next to his Restaurant Eugene. Hopkins and his restaurant staffs work closely with local schools, consulting on healthy lunch programs and offering classes in food training and garden cultivation.
The annual luncheon was catered by Affairs to Remember, decorations in Atlanta Falcons colors were provided by Balloons & Events over Atlanta, and complimentary valet parking was courtesy of LAZ Parking.

John Schaffner

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