(Feb. 8/19) It is with deep sadness that Restaurants Canada and the foodservice industry say goodbye to J. Charles Grieco, a foodservice pioneer who peacefully passed away on Jan. 29, 2019 at the age of 84.
Grieco enjoyed a highly successful 35-year career with his father as owners and operators of the renowned La Scala Restaurant in Toronto, was the founding Director, Chair, and President of the Ontario Hostelry Institute (OHI) since 1977 and later became Managing Director at the Canadian Hospitality Foundation (CHF).
He had a passion for education and elevating standards. This included an undertaking that produced the first textual compilation of hospitality law in Ontario, ”Hospitality Law: a practical guide”. For more than 20 years, his Annual Gold Awards Galas at the Four Seasons Hotel supported and inspired more than 450 students to become tomorrow’s leaders in the foodservice and hospitality industry. Each event sold out and raised more than $1.5 million.
Recognized as a leading thinker on key industry issues, Grieco will be remembered for his dedication to sharing his wisdom and dreams with many of today’s leaders in the hospitality, culinary and tourism sector. Grieco is survived by his loving wife, Margaret, their sons and families.
Restaurants Canada is honoured to share the following tributes to J. Charles Grieco from members of the Canadian hospitality and foodservice community.
“J. Charles Grieco was instrumental in the foodservice industry from his start at La Scala to his work at OHI and CHF. He was a passionate restaurant operator, and motivational leader. He inspired and taught a whole generation of restaurateurs about the value of hard work, raising the bar on standards, sharing ideas, and being able to together create success. His passion fed into ours as an industry, and I know I speak for many when I say that we all are better for having Dr. Grieco as part of our community for as long as we did. He will truly be missed.”
President and CEO, Restaurants Canada
“J. Charles Grieco was a force to be reckoned with. To say he supported the foodservice and hospitality industry in Ontario, particularly women in the industry, would be an understatement. He had high expectations for standards and the same could be said for education. His vision for the future leaders was important and therefore the scholarship programs for OHI as well as the CHF were expanded and generously offered. He believed in recognizing those who contributed to the growth and success of the industry, that’s why the Gold Awards Dinner and the Top 30 under 30 program were very close to his heart. He made an impact on foodservice and hospitality and will be missed. It was an honour to work for him.”
General Manager, Canadian Hospitality Foundation
Vice President, Ontario Hostelry Institute
“Dr. Grieco’s depth of understanding of the restaurant and larger hospitality industry was unmatched. His goal, particularly with the OHI Awards that I worked on with him, was to expand the honours for men and women across Ontario. He was inclusive in his vision — he added an Artisan Award to honour the farming and small processing communities — and tenacious in his drive to make Ontario’s tourism and hospitality sectors a better place in which to work. He absolutely loved his life’s work and his enthusiasm was totally infectious. Charles could say ‘jump’ and we would say ‘how high?’”
Anita Stewart, C.M. LLD
Food Laureate, University of Guelph
Founder, Food Day Canada
“We have lost a true industry leader and icon. Charles had the unique ability and gift to tie hospitality leaders, educational professionals, the culinary, supply side and most importantly, newcomers to the Industry together, and understood how important it was to create both opportunity, connection and legacy. We will miss his unique, ‘fighting spirit’ greatly and can only hope to carry on his vision both in our daily words and deeds, but more importantly in keeping things moving forward on the engagement and inclusion of all facets of the learning and recognition programs in hospitality, that under his guidance over four decades, made great inroads and spawned multiple generations of true leaders.”
COO, Drake Hotel Properties and OHI GOLD Award Recipient 2018
Former Director, Restaurants Canada