BIRMINGHAM – The Alabama Retail Association (ARA), in cooperation with the University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Business, today recognized 19 outstanding Alabama retailers representing 13 retail businesses as “Retailers of the Year.” The presentations were made at The Club in Birmingham during the 2011 Retail Day Luncheon. This marked the 12th presentation of the Retailer of the Year Awards since 1999.
Benny LaRussa Sr., chairman of the board; Charles Mizerany, president; and Billy Wentz, vice president of Jack’s Family Restaurants, based in Homewood earned the Bronze Retailer of the Year award in the Annual Sales More Than $20 Million Category. Tricia Ford, executive director of the Homewood Chamber of Commerce, nominated the three company leaders for the award.
LaRussa, a grocer in his first career, went from supplying meat to Jack’s restaurants to being a franchise operator. He bought the whole Jack’s system in 1989. The company now operates 112 locations throughout Alabama, Georgia, Mississippi and Tennessee, or it did at the time the management team submitted its Retailer of the Year entry. The company continues to grow in its 50th year of operation.
In 2010, Jack’s opened six stores. Within the first two quarters of 2011, the company had opened four more restaurants, one in Mississippi and three in Alabama. The company philosophy is to grow conservatively where it has people trained and ready to manage its restaurants.
“Jack’s was the first fast-food restaurant based in Alabama,” Ford said. “Their business model has been successful for 50 years as the company continues to grow and succeed. They are very community minded, not only here in Homewood, but statewide.”
Jack’s raised $163,910 this year for the American Red Cross’ and the Salvation Army’s efforts on behalf of Alabama’s April tornado victims, and the company continues to promote its “Jack’s Gives Back” program. The program gives Jack’s 3,000 employees a chance to serve at shelters, food pantries, community clean-up days, Boys and Girls Clubs, Relay for Life events and otherwise give back to the communities where they live and work. When the employees go out to serve, they wear the “Jack’s Gives Back” T-shirt and represent Jack’s as a company.
Alabama Retail Association President Rick Brown said, “Benny LaRussa, Charles Mizerany and Billy Wentz are retailers of the year EVERY year to their customers, employees and the communities in the four states where Jack’s operates, so much so that we all ‘go back, back, back to Jack’s, Jack’s, Jack’s for more, more, more.’ ”