The Bayonne Chamber of Commerce held its 3rd Annual Peninsula Gala on Thursday, March 23, at Bayonne Golf Club, where local leaders in the community, business, and government met to celebrate businesses in Bayonne.
After driving through Bayonne’s industrial zone on Hook Road, a left turn takes you to a long, winding road leading to the club. Tall grassy knolls resembling the Scottish countryside (but really landfill) populate the 18-hole golf course, dubbed one of the most “audacious” in the nation. Views of Bayonne from the club’s tower are as exclusive as the club’s membership – notables like Jimmy Fallon, Justin Timberlake, and Bill Clinton have golfed here.
A humbler elite celebrated the best Bayonne businesses and honored veterans of the city’s business community.
Honorees at the gala included Vinny and Toni Bottino, who retired this year when they closed Big Apple after 44 years in business. Former Chamber of Commerce President Robert Doria received the Hall of Fame Award, Richard R. Fisette, a recently retired IMTT Terminal Manager received the Dan Kane Legends Award, and Jack Kennedy accepted the Business of the Year Award on behalf of IMTT Bayonne.
In honor of …
Hosting the event was Matthew Dorans, President of the Bayonne Chamber of Commerce Board. “We’ve come a long way, and each year we’re growing more and more,” he said. “And I think that is indicative of the business climate in Bayonne.”
Before honoring Doria for serving as the Chamber President in the “industrial days” from 1994-2006, Dorans said, “When Bob came up to me and asked me to be president, I was not only honored to walk in his footsteps, but I’m proud of this moment in honoring you. It’s long overdue.”
Mayor James Davis introduced Vinny and Toni Bottino as well-respected local business owners, but also as friends who happened to have worked with the mayor’s mother, before he presented them their “Businessperson of the Year Award.”
“There are no two people that have worked at a business for so long, and put so many hours in, and they did it for their family and for our community,” Davis said.“There’s no more deserving people of this award than the two of them.”
“When we decided it was time to retire, it was one of the hardest decisions,” said Toni Bottino, expressing profound gratitude for the Bayonne community. “Bayonne is very important to our family. We didn’t realize it until the last few weeks before closing – how many lives we affect. It was overwhelming. Many of you are not just friends, but family. And we would never have had that if it were not for the Big Apple.”
Vinny Bottino highlighted what he and his wife may be most proud of – their commitment to local sports teams. As a family-centric sports bar, it only seems natural that the Bottinos have sponsored countless teams, including the PAL, Cal Ripken League, and multiple soccer teams. “That was just why we did what we did, to give back to the community and made us who we are today,” said Vinny. “We raised our kids with the same values and hope they pass those values along to our grandchildren.”
“Many of you are not just friends, but family. And we would never have had that if it were not for the Big Apple.” – Tony Bottino
A legend is recognized
After accepting the Business of the Year Award on behalf of IMTT Bayonne, IMTT Quality Manager Jack Kennedy introduced Richard M. Fisette as the Dan Kane Legends honoree. Kennedy met Fisette in 1988 when he first started working at IMTT. “His integrity has inspired those of us who work with him to try to be better. He holds no punches and is always looking out for everybody’s best interests,” said Kennedy.
Accepting the award, Fisette said, “Any success I’ve achieved is solely based on all my employees. Anybody who runs a business knows how important it is to have good, dedicated employees, but you also need support from your friends and family.”
Fisette’s wife died last year; he said that his children and grandchildren are “the people that keep me going.”
Fisette has been a board member and vice president on the Bayonne Chamber of Commerce, a board member on the former Bayonne Economic Development Commission, and for 17 years has been an advisory board member to All Saints Catholic Academy in Bayonne. Fisette also helped design and oversee the construction of two Bayonne parks funded by IMTT. “He has been an asset not only to IMTT but the entire Bayonne community,” Kennedy said.
According to its website, “The Bayonne Chamber of Commerce works to stimulate the retention, improvement, and expansion of business in the community; Foster a better understanding of the American free enterprise system; Encourage well-reasoned views and recommendations on City, County, State and Federal legislation; Promote and preserve individual and economic freedoms; and encourage cultural, social and civic needs of the community.”
Rory Pasquariello may be reached at email@example.com.