Continuing its mission to honor outstanding community leaders for their service and commitment to the Central Florida hospitality industry, the Central Florida Hospitality Hall of Fame announced today its 2012 inductees. The Hall of Fame will welcome local hospitality leaders Alan C. Villaverde, President of Peabody Hotels Division and Managing Director of The Peabody Orlando, and Albert Covelli, Founder of Covelli Enterprises, Franchisee of Panera Bread, as its two newest members.
The Central Florida Hospitality Hall of Fame, which was established in 2007 by the Rosen College of Hospitality Management at the University of Central Florida, will officially induct Villaverde and Covelli on Saturday, Oct. 20, as part of the 2012 Grand Tour Gala, an annual event organized by the Orlando Chapter of the National Association of Catering Executives (NACE) that supports UCF’s Rosen College and its programs.
The 2012 honorees were selected after consultations with the faculty and staff of UCF’s Rosen College of Hospitality Management and industry executives. The Dean of Rosen College, Dr. Abraham Pizam, will present the inductees with Steuben crystal pineapple awards, the symbol of the hospitality industry, at the Grand Tour Gala, held the Waldorf Astoria Orlando. Both honorees will also be pictured with plaques on the Hall of Fame, located on the UCF Rosen College campus.
“I am honored to welcome two of Central Florida’s most distinguished and generous hospitality leaders to the Hall of Fame,” said Dean Pizam. “Mr. Villaverde and Mr. Covelli, who have both shown outstanding professionalism, leadership, and service throughout their careers, are truly deserving of this honor.”
Alan C. Villaverde joined The Peabody Orlando in 1993 as vice president/general manager, bringing with him 23 years of hotel/hospitality management expertise. In 2006, Villaverde was elevated to Executive Vice President of Peabody Hotels with responsibility for The Peabody Memphis and The Peabody Little Rock in addition to his role as general manager of The Peabody Orlando. In 2009, Villaverde was promoted to President of Peabody Hotels Division and Managing Director of The Peabody Orlando. During his seventeen-year Peabody tenure, he has garnered almost every major hotel award for The Peabody Orlando, including the coveted Mobil Travel Guide Four Star, AAA Four Diamond and Conde Nast Traveler’s Top 100 Business Hotels awards.
Villaverde was honored as Maryland Hotelier of the Year, 1991; was named Peabody Hotel Group’s Top General Manager, 1995 and 1998; Central Florida Hotelier of the Year, 1997; State of Florida GM of the Year, 1997, American Hotel & Motel Association’s Outstanding GM of the Year, 1999. In February, 2000, he was named among Central Florida’s 100 Most Influential People by The Orlando Business Journal. In 2007 he was named “Most Influential Executive” by Orlando Magazine. Preferred Hotel Group awarded the coveted 2011 Hotelier of the Year Award to Villaverde.
Always a leader in fund-raising and charitable causes, Villaverde chaired the first three fund-raising campaigns for the “Food for All” project of the Maryland Food Bank Committees, raising $900,000 of food products for the needy. This earned him the Governor’s Citation for Exemplary Efforts in Caring and Community Outreach. Likewise in Orlando, Villaverde is a tireless fund-raiser on behalf of Give Kids The World, a local wish-granting organization providing memorable vacations for terminally-ill children and their families from around the world. Villaverde and his wife, Mary Kay, also support “Seniors First” sponsoring an annual fund raiser providing financial aid for this organization that serves the elderly in Central Florida.
Albert Covelli started his career as a Lieutenant Medical Administrative Officer during World War II in England, France, & Germany. After his years of service, he started an open air market in Kenosha, WI, which he expanded to three locations. Covelli then became the founder of a wholesale produce company where he added a distributorship for a Snow Corporation Frozen Foods and Sealtest Dairy Company before moving to Warren, OH.
In the interest of a new business opportunity and in the pursuit of spending more time with his family, Covelli opened his first McDonald’s in Warren, OH in 1959. He then built the business to 27 locations before turning it over to his son Sam in 1985.
In 1996, Albert Covelli’s vision for the future continued to evolve when he embarked upon Panera Bread and decided to franchise this concept. He recognized what he calls the success formula for any business: quality, quantity and service. Albert Covelli currently operates 59 bakery-cafes in Orlando and Tampa, FL. The Covelli Family owns and operates close to 200 Panera Bread bakery-cafes and five O’Charley’s Restaurants making Covelli Enterprises the largest Franchisee of Panera Bread in the nation. Additionally, Covelli Enterprises is the fifth largest restaurant franchisee in the nation with gross sales revenues exceeding $400 million. Covelli Enterprises employs over 20,000 people.
Covelli was recently awarded with the first ever Panera Bread Pioneer Award to honor his life’s achievements.
In true entrepreneurial spirit, Covelli has always believed in the philosophy of giving back to the community. Since 1993, The Albert Covelli Foundation has donated close to $1,300,000.00 to hundreds of charities and non-profit organizations. He has also fulfilled a long history of civic involvement by serving on numerous boards and foundations committed to bettering the lives of those around him.
In addition to The Albert Covelli Foundation, Covelli Enterprises donates more than $10 million annually in unsold bread and bakery product to local food banks, hunger relief agencies and community organizations in five states.
Villaverde and Covelli will be the 11th and 12th Central Florida Hospitality Hall of Fame members. Prior inductees are Al Weiss, Walt Disney Company, and Thomas L. Williams, Universal Parks & Resorts (2011); Carolyn Fennell, Greater Orlando Aviation Authority, and Mark McHugh, Gatorland, (2010); Jim D. Atchison, SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment, and Harris Rosen, Rosen Hotels & Resorts (2009); Patricia J. Engfer, Hyatt Orlando, and Richard A. Nunis, Walt Disney Attractions (2008); and Richard J. Walsh, Darden Restaurants, and William C. Peeper, Orlando/Orange County Convention and Visitors Bureau (2007).
For sponsorship opportunities and table reservations to the 2012 Grand Tour Gala, where Villaverde and Covelli will be inducted on Oct. 20, please visit https://www.grandtourfoundation.org/.