The 2015 Long Branch Chamber of Commerce Business Awards Dinner

2.5.2015
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Long Branch, NJ – The Greater Long Branch Chamber of Commerce is proud to announce the recipients of the 2015 Louis G. Libutti Community Service Award. The award was established in 1970 in honor of Louis G. Libutti who was a former president of the Long Branch Chamber. Exemplary leadership, outstanding professional achievement and community service are the criteria for this award. Recent recipients of the award include Mary George, the Sirianni Family, The Damiano Family, Ed Johnson, Director of the Higher Learning Center at Brookdale Community College, Nancy Mazza, recent chair and lifelong Board member of Ronald McDonald house and Dr. Margaret “Meg” Fisher of the Children’s Hospital at Monmouth Medical Center. This year the 81st Annual Business Awards Dinner will be held on Friday, March 20th at the Ocean Place Resort & Spa, 1 Ocean Blvd., Long Branch, New Jersey. 

Receiving the prestigious Libutti Award this year is Anthony “Tony” Perri of Fine Fare and Michael Bienz and Sam Nativo of MIX Lounge and 2nd Floor Restaurant

“The Chamber is delighted to honor Tony Perri, Mike Bienz and Sam Nativo. They are all wonderful examples of the essence of this Award,” said Chamber President, Leonard Kiczek. He continued, “We are pleased to laud their achievements, especially since all three are entrepreneurs, have established extraordinarily successful businesses and continually give back to the community in so many ways.”

The 2015 President’s Award will be presented to the Dr. Barry Elbaum Dental Health Center on Broadway. 400 Broadway Business Park will receive the Chamber Business Improvement Award.

The Awards Dinner is sponsored by Monmouth Medical Center, Brookdale Community College, Ocean Place Resort & Spa; Ansell Grimm & Aaron, Maser Consulting and Insurance Office of America.

Anthony “Tony” Perri has a strong passion for the retail business. Fine Fare is the epitome of a successful family business; Tony works seven days a week, along with his son, Michael, who came aboard 7 years ago after graduating from the University of Delaware.

The true indicator of a great place to work is turnover in staff. Most of the employees work there from High School to retirement! Imagine, having an independent supermarket competing with all the big chains and literally no turnover in staff.

At the age of 13 Tony had his first part time job in an Acme Supermarket. While attending high school and Monmouth University he continued to work in various supermarkets with a desire to someday own one.

After serving his country in the U. S. Army, Tony went to work for the Carnation Company in 1973. Learning the distribution end at Carnation played a major part in his overall success.

In 1977, Tony and his father, Anthony Perri, Sr. founded Fine Fare Supermarket on Third Avenue. The site was a former Foodland Supermarket and the two of them remodeled and expanded it to its current size.

Tony and his family have been incredibly generous to the Long Branch community. In February 2012, West End experienced a devastating fire which destroyed 9 businesses and 14 apartments. Tony made sure all the victims received substantial gifts cards to shop with so they could start rebuilding their lives.

Tony and his family have continually supported Oceanfest at Long Branch since its inception 25 years ago.

Seashore School has a cooking elective taught by Chef Joe Tuzzio of Tuzzio’s Restaurant. Tony donated many of the ingredients for the students taking the course and participating in their “Chopped” Challenge. He also was one of the three guest judges.

Tony and his wife Karen (who also works at the store) reside in West Long Branch. They have three children: Gina, Lauren and Mike and four grandchildren, Luke, Evan, Trey and Liana. In January, Fine Fare celebrated their 38th Anniversary.

Mike Bienz and Sam Nativo arrived in Long Branch after successful careers in New York City. They were involved in an upper Broadway restaurant and in their off hours after work, they discovered Brighton Avenue and researched the area and what was available and successfully opened MIX Lounge and Food Bar July 13th, 2001 and they were an instant hit.

The success of MIX is directly related to their commitment to the area. They have been active with the The Center in Asbury Park with their annual food tastings. Sam chaired the event for ten years. They were an integral part of the Twilight Concerts which benefited St. Claire’s Children’s Home along with other deserving charities.

After September 11, 2001 they arranged for a benefit for the Red Cross. They have had numerous fund raisers for the Jacqueline Wilentz Breast Center at Monmouth Medical Center.

Civically they have been active with the Long Branch Chamber, and the West End Business Association. They started the Long Branch Block Party and Pooch Parade in partnership with the Chamber, now in its 7th year. For the last four years, they have chaired the Long Branch Chef Challenge which has highlighted all our fabulous restaurants and food purveyors in the area.

Three years ago, February 13th, 2012, the terrible fire in West End destroyed 9 businesses along with 14 apartments.  With the help of many volunteers Wednesday, February 29th, 400 plus paying guests crowded into the ballroom and raised substantial funds for the victims of the fire.

Sam was diagnosed with Stage IV lymphoma in the fall of 2011. While undergoing chemotherapy, he and Michael discussed Sam resuming his culinary career. “The deal was that if I keep forging through, Michael would make this restaurant happen,” Nativo said.  After twelve months, Nativo’s cancer was in remission, construction started in the summer of 2012.

The 28-seat restaurant opened in December, 2012. 2ndFlr restaurant was supposed to open the first week of November 2012 but a little interruption called Superstorm Sandy intervened.   The opening if the restaurant was put off and with the help of generators reopened MIX a as soon as the City would let them, even with an early curfew and successfully fed so many people.

Dinner tickets are available at $100. per person. Sponsorships and ad space are still available. Please contact the Chamber at info@longbranchchamber.org or 732-222-0400.