Lunch can be good for business

Posted: May 4, 2013

The Winchester Star

LEFT: Ronnie Snook (left), Toby Norris and Rusty Nicholson with Virginia Eagle Distributors talk with Richard “Dickie” Dick at the luncheon.
ABOVE: Brian Hester (left) and Greg Plotts, co-chairmen of the BB&T Men’s Commonwealth Luncheon, talk with BB&T Senior Vice President David Chandler during Friday’s event in Piccadilly’s Public House. (Photo by Ginger Perry/The Winchester Star)

WINCHESTER — Perhaps it’s a good thing that many of the men who gathered Friday for the seventh annual BB&T Men’s Commonwealth Luncheon in Piccadilly’s Public House have wives.

Because few of them seem to have purchased their own pink or green shirts and ties or even jackets for the Shenandoah Apple Blossom Festival event.

Warren Arthur, former Clarke County commissioner of the revenue, gave his wife credit for his bright pink tie and dark-green sweater vest.

Arthur capped his white slacks with a wheat-colored jacket because, he said, “I didn’t want to look like Boss Hogg.”

“This is the only event I pull out my pink jacket for,” said Brian Hester, co-chairman of the event with Greg Plotts.

Hester, sporting a special pink and green bow tie, said 375 tickets were sold for the luncheon — which attracts businessmen who come for the Baltimore bratwurst, libations and a chance to talk with their peers.

Hester said he enjoys the opportunity to visit people he grew up with in Winchester.

The relatively new event is an “attempt to bring back what the Stag Luncheon was 50 years ago,” he said.

The purpose is “business networking,” said Plotts, who works for the accounting firm of Yount Hyde & Barbour.

Ronnie Wilkins, who owns Shine 4 Less Detailing in Frederick County, agreed. But, he added, friends sitting with him at a table on the second floor of the restaurant contributed other topics.

“Nothing is off limits; that’s the good thing.”

The discussions ranged from politics to community events and, of course, the festival.

“We’re all friends, from all walks of life,” Wilkins said. “Everybody brings something to the table.”

John Gallagher of Berryville said he and his son Sean once made a point of hitting the Stag Luncheon. Now, he said, he prefers the Commonwealth Luncheon, without the loud music of the band and the crowds.

“I’m getting old. This has much more appeal to me,” the senior Gallagher said, adding that the Stag Luncheon was “more fun for the younger people.”

“And,” said his son, ”there’s a place for him to sit down.”

The Gallaghers, who have been attending the event for five years, apparently have a tradition going. The elder said doing something once is an event, twice is a trend and three times is a tradition.

Ruritan National President Dennis Clemmer, seated with members of the Stonewall Ruritan Club, came to Apple Blossom on a mission.

He will ride in today’s Grand Feature Parade on Stonewall’s annual float to publicize the Rudy Bear program. Ruritan supplies the teddy bears to law enforcement personnel, to be given to children involved in traumatic situations such as car accidents.

“Rudy Bear is 25 years old this year,” noted Clemmer, who wore the requisite Apple Blossom uniform of pink and green.

As a Shenandoah Valley native — his family has lived on the same road in Middlebrook, southwest of Staunton, since 1767 — he said he is aware of the festival’s traditions.

“I’m about as native as you get,” Clemmer said.

Hester said the participants would probably see a few festival celebrities during their luncheon. “This is how we kick off The Bloom.”

The event was also sponsored by Piccadilly’s, Yount Hyde & Barbour, Frogale Lumber, Annandale Millwood & Allied Systems and Anthem.

— Contact Val Van Meterat