The night consisted of not only celebrating the successes of the past year, but also of sharing plans for the future. Nancy Howe, publisher of the Maddux Business Report, hosted the ceremonies and was joined by Vice-Mayor John Gibson, who highlighted plans for welcoming three new fine dining establishments to the Cleveland Street District in the next three months with three additional new restaurants in the works. Gibson went on to describe the newly-opened Capital Theater, formerly the Royalty Theater, which provides “the much-needed cultural anchor to attract patrons to the Cleveland Street District,” and which will be part of the ongoing “4th Friday” events.
Gibson also voiced the thoughts of many attendees when he stated, “The Cleveland Street District has experienced a series of successes during the past year despite the economic problems. It’s truly amazing when you think about what was just announced about all the new businesses opening in downtown Clearwater.”
There were in fact 25 businesses and 16 individuals nominated among four categories of awards this year. However, the most prominent emotion was not competition, but camaraderie.
“If one business markets heavily, they actually not only help themselves, but they help others because people want a variety. Everyone is coming together. That was our dream four years ago,” explains Karla Jo Helms, CDP committee member. The encouragement of marketing and public relations for local businesses actually spurred the creation of a new award category: “Best/Most Creative Marketing Plan”.
This year a Special Humanitarian Award was also bestowed upon longtime business owner Angie Chaconas of Angie’s Restaurant. Originally from Greece, Angie shared with us her memories of hunger during the political conflicts at that time which continue to spur her to help others to this day. Angie provides meals to those who are needy every Thanksgiving and is happy she can continue the tradition in memory of her family and their journey to “the land of opportunity.”
The other award winners were:
Most Improved Property – Ft. Harrison Hotel
Individual Contribution – Robert Freedman, CEO Ruth Eckerd Hall
Business Sustainability – Chiang Mai Thai Restaurant
Best/Most Creative Marketing Plan – “Miracle on Cleveland Street” by PostcardMania/Joy Gendusa