Central Florida restaurant maven Manny Garcia will be honored by the Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association as the recipient of its 2016 Restaurateur Hall of Fame Award. The induction will take place at a ceremony September 28 at the Hyatt Regency Orlando during the Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association Show, Sept. 27 through 29 at the Orange County Convention Center.
FRLA bestows the Hall of Fame honor on individuals who have attained career distinctions and a record of industry achievements of at least 20 years. Recipients must also be held in high esteem for their “distinguished service to the industry, community, charitable organizations and family.”
Garcia’s career has spanned more than 50 years, beginning with working at his father’s Ybor City restaurants. Of the award, Garcia said, “I’m especially honored because my father served as the Florida Restaurant Association President many years ago.”
Garcia, a 1965 graduate of the Cornell University School of Hotel and Restaurant Administration, is remembered most by Central Florida residents for his popular restaurants that included Pebbles, Harvey’s Bistro and Manuel’s on the 28th, all now closed. The latter was named as a tribute to his father.
Before opening his casual dining restaurants, Garcia owned 67 Burger King franchises with annual revenues of more than $100 million. He sold the franchises to the Burger King Corporation between 1996 and 2000.
Still listed as managing partner of Davgar Holding Group, Garcia has turned over much of the operations to his daughter and son-in-law, Gina and Mike Buell. The company is currently concentrating on growing the Wahlburgers franchise in Florida.
Garcia, 73, was named to the Mid-Florida Business Hall of Fame in 2007.