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National Restaurant Association - Industry vet Fassler honored with Legends Award

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Industry vet Fassler honored with Legends Award

Pictured from left to right, restaurateur John Metz Sr., Gus Fassler, Restaurant Association CEO Dawn Sweeney and IFMA CEO Larry Oberkfell celebrated the life of Joe Fassler, recipient of the 2018 Industry Legends Award.

The foodservice industry honored the life and work of Joseph K. Fassler, former president and CEO of Restaura Inc., when the National Restaurant Association posthumously presented him with its Second annual Industry Legends Award at the International Foodservice Manufacturers Association’s Silver & Gold Plate gala on May 20.

Dawn Sweeney, president and CEO of the National Restaurant Association, presented the award to Fassler’s brother. She called Fassler, who died last year at age 75, an industry giant who epitomized hospitality.

In addition to his career as a successful industry executive, Fassler was a former Chairman of the National Restaurant Association and its Educational Foundation.

“Joe would have been successful at anything he did, but fortunately for us he chose hospitality, and we are profoundly grateful for that,” Sweeney said. “He spent a lifetime in our industry, rising from the lowest level … to becoming a leading president and CEO, always with the same company. Over a lifetime of exceptional leadership and extraordinarily wise counsel, this gentleman’s legacy touched tens of thousands and will ripple through generations to come.”

Gus Fassler, Joe’s twin, spoke of his brother’s four passions in life: his career, the Restaurant Association, the Educational Foundation, and family values. “My brother was, and possibly is, a legend at the [National Restaurant Association], but to me he is the most unique legend I will ever have,” he told the audience, tearfully.

Three of Fassler’s good friends — restaurateurs Ted Balestreri and John Metz Sr., and Tom Haas, a former publisher of Nation’s Restaurant News — also remembered Fassler during the presentation, recalling his generosity, kindness and directness, as well as his love for the New York Yankees and the game of golf.

The Gold & Silver Plate awards, often called the “Academy Awards of the foodservice industry,” honor the contributions and innovations of leading operators and the work they’ve done to advance the business. Gene Lee, president and CEO of Darden Restaurants, won this year’s Gold Plate Award. IFMA President and CEO Larry Oberkfell presented Lee with the award at the end of the evening’s festivities.

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