Fifteen years after opening Gresham's Chop House, on June 5 the owners of the restaurant: Thomas Regenski Jr., Paul Regenski and Joseph Regenski were recognized as the 2013 Family-Owned Small Business of the Year by the U.S. Small Business Administration at an awards ceremony in Philadelphia.
A four room motel in 1952, Thomas Regenski Sr. first built and ran Tafton Manor with his mother, Ann Greshman Regenski. Eventually, Thomas went on to buy the Taft House, he explained June 4 outside of Greshman's where there was a local recognition of what the family has accomplished when David Dickson the Director of the U.S. SBA Philadelphia District visited the restaurant to see the business that was chosen out of 727,000 small businesses in the 40 eastern counties in Pennsylvania.
Criteria for the award, explained SBA's Public Information Officer Robert Goza is, "a laundry list," of items including the longevity of the business and community involvement that makes a business "unique and special." As well, the history of the restaurant, with which Goza called Gresham's, "phenomenally rich and inspiring."
Dickson said the nomination package for the award is very extensive because SBA is, "looking to give these awards to the best of the best of the best." He called Gresham's package very good because of the long standing restaurant. Almost a fifth generation business, Dickson said that is huge.
With very, "robust judging," Dickson said the owners of Gresham's are joining very good company. He told of the owners of Bassetts Ice Cream Company from Philadelphia, who won the family of the year award a few years ago and are now exporting ice cream to China. He added that the family is, "joining some very, very popular folks."
Keith Yurgosky, the Manager of Internet Business at the University of Scranton Small Business Development Center and a family friend, nominated Gresham's. He said he did it because the brothers met a lot of the required criteria and due to the brother's extensive community involvement, including the creation of the Caleb Foundation, which Joe Regenski created in his son's name.
One brother, Paul said it was great to receive the award, and initially when the brothers learned that they had won, he didn't realize how many businesses were considered. He called winning, "an honor." Thomas Sr. added that winning amongst the number of family owned businesses is, "mind boggling." When Thomas Jr. first learned of the award, he said he was surprised of the number of other family businesses in the area. He said, "we are humbled to have won an award like this amidst so many successful well run family owned businesses in this area." He added that the brothers owe a lot to their family, but also to their staff who have been just as dedicated for the last 15 years, as well as the customers who visit the restaurant.
Page 2 of 2 - A family of cooks, Thomas Sr. first learned to cook because he, "had no choice," he said with a laugh. Today, noting that the family does not get rich through the business, Thomas Jr. said the brothers make sacrifices as they are forced to work all hours to ensure that customers are satisfied. But, when customers are happy, "that's really what keeps you in it," he explained.
In the 1960's when Thomas Sr. worked with his mother and father in the Tafton Manor, he said he hated it. But he said he has followed in his parents footsteps because, "I guess it's in the blood, it has to be," he said with a chuckle. With his 16 year old granddaughter busing tables in the restaurant, he said, "the likelihood is the name will continue." He added that, "I love every second of it, I love my motel, I love what I'm doing and I love what they're doing."
Thomas Sr. said to be in the food business, "you've kind of got to be dedicated to what you do and a little bit nuts." He said his sons make the job appear easy, but they are fortunate because together they can accommodate each other's lives. The restaurant is named after the brother's great grandfather. With a smile, Thomas Sr. said, "my parents and my grandparents have got to be smiling today." He added that, "I'm the proudest of guys that you could probably imagine right now."