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Wednesday, October 4, 2023


Hilton Hall of Honor inducts two new entrepreneurs

Dressed in black ties, members of Houston’s hotel and restaurant elite gathered at the Hilton UH for an evening dedicated to honoring their peers.

Sam Barshop, founder of La Quinta Inn & Suites, and Richard Melman, founder and chairman of Lettuce Entertain You Enterprises, were inducted into the Hospitality Hall of Honor on Wednesday. Housed in the Hilton UH, the Hall of Honor has been recognizing individuals since 1996 who have made great contributions to the hotel and restaurant industry.

“The hall recognizes people who’ve made a significant impact on their fields, inspired others and serve as exemplary role models for Hilton College students,” said Taylor Wiley, director of digital marketing for the Conrad N. Hilton College of Hotel and Restaurant Management. “There are more than 50 people who have been inducted into the hall, representing some of the industry’s most successful companies and brands.”

The master of ceremonies for the night was Christopher Pappas of the iconic Pappas restaurants located all over the Houston area. Complete with a reception, induction ceremony and dinner, the evening was planned and executed by a team of students.

HRM junior Brandon King was proud to volunteer at the event and hopes to one day own a restaurant of his own that will gain this prestigious honor.

“To be on the student management team that creates this event, you have to go through an application process and interview,” King said. “Around 12 to 15 students are picked and are each given a title. The students are then put in a special class and plan the event all year long.”

The student management team also coordinated industry “Think Tank” sessions, in which they invited panelists from the hospitality industry to speak to students for two days prior to the ceremony. Wiley said it gave students a chance to learn from the experts and gave industry professionals the opportunity to get to know the hospitality leaders of tomorrow.

Each inductee has a specially commissioned portrait by artist Robert Lapsley in the Hall of Honor Gallery. Past inductees include Conrad N. Hilton, J.W. Marriott, Vernon Stouffer, Ray Kroc, Howard Johnson, Walt Disney and Norman Brinker. Brinker is the only inductee to be a UH alumnus.

Melman was honored because of his ownership of 95 restaurants nationwide and his operation of 50 different concepts in seven states. Barshop was honored for creating the limited-service hotel concept. He opened his first hotel in 1968 and now provides franchise services to more than 800 hotel properties in the U.S., Canada and Mexico.

For HRM junior Paloma Gonzales, being able to see the hardships the inductees went through along with their successes was a huge honor.

“It shows us students the potential we have in the hospitality industry, and we are able to meet great role models that we can hopefully be similar to someday,” Gonzales said. “Being able to hear what they went through when they were our age and still learning and growing gives me the motivation I need to succeed.”

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