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updated: 11/11/2013 9:13 AM

Zion restaurant manager, customer bond during Honor Flight

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  • World War II veteran George Houcin of Waukegan, at left, and Jesse Jarrett, general manager of the Culver's restaurant in Zion, return from a Honor Flight trip to see the World War II Memorial in Washington, D.C.

      World War II veteran George Houcin of Waukegan, at left, and Jesse Jarrett, general manager of the Culver's restaurant in Zion, return from a Honor Flight trip to see the World War II Memorial in Washington, D.C.
    COURTESY OF CULVER'S/SILBARPR

  • George Houchin of Waukegan is overcome with emotion as he's greeted at Midway International Airport upon his return from seeing the World War II Memorial in Washington, D.C. A Culver's manager in Zion encouraged Houchin to go on the Honor Flight and then accompanied him.

      George Houchin of Waukegan is overcome with emotion as he's greeted at Midway International Airport upon his return from seeing the World War II Memorial in Washington, D.C. A Culver's manager in Zion encouraged Houchin to go on the Honor Flight and then accompanied him.
    COURTESY OF CULVER'S/SILBARPR

  • President Obama, at left, listens to CEOs from companies nationwide, including Schaumburg-based Motorola Solutions CEO Greg Brown, at center, during a meeting about immigration reform in Washington, D.C.

      President Obama, at left, listens to CEOs from companies nationwide, including Schaumburg-based Motorola Solutions CEO Greg Brown, at center, during a meeting about immigration reform in Washington, D.C.
    PHOTO COURTESY OF MOTOROLA SOLUTIONS

  • Susan Parker

      Susan Parker

  • Susan Gohl

      Susan Gohl

  • David L. Crane

      David L. Crane

  • Bob Miller

      Bob Miller

  • Rick Scarff

      Rick Scarff

  • Mike Evans

      Mike Evans

 
 

A restaurant general manager fulfilled his promise to a Waukegan vet by accompanying him on a special mission -- an Honor Flight to see the World War II Memorial in Washington. D.C.

Jesse Jarrett, a Culver's general manager in Zion, became friends with his longtime customer, George Houchin of Waukegan. In August the Daily Herald wrote that the two became such good friends that even restaurant crew members had George's favorite two-piece chicken dinner waiting as soon as they saw him coming.

But the two men shared a special day when they took a whirlwind flight from Midway International Airport to Washington, D.C. to see the memorial. They arrived at Midway at 4:30 a.m. on Oct. 30, flew to D.C., and then were transported back in time as about 80 vets and their companions visited the memorial.

"It was just unbelievable," Jarrett said.

Houchin became emotional when he saw the part of the memorial that honored D-Day, which he was part of during his stint with the U.S. Navy. Houchin was overcome with emotion again when he returned to Midway about 9:30 p.m. that same night and saw thousands of people welcoming home the vets, including a contingent from Culver's.

The day was possible because Jarrett had encouraged Houchin to participate. Culver's had aimed their philanthropic efforts toward Honor Flight Chicago and had raised money for a flight in July. Since then, Culver's team members got the word out about the Honor Flight, a company spokeswoman said.

Earlier in the year, Jarrett went to Houchin's home to give him paperwork related to the flight and encouraged Houchin to think about it. Houchin told Jarrett he didn't want to relive D-Day and discouraged the idea. But a few days later, he came into the restaurant with his daughter and handed in the completed paperwork, said Jarrett.

And Houchin would only go if Jarrett accompanied him.

"There are just no other words to describe it," said Jarrett. "It was just huge to be able to talk to them and hear their stories and what they did for our freedom."

Honoring tradition

Paul Lencioni, president of the Blue Goose Market in St. Charles, said his great-grandmother was an Italian grocer who opened a fruit store in St. Charles around the same time that Dominick DiMatteo opened a similar fruit-and-meat deli in Chicago, known as Dominick's Finer Foods. He said the successor to Dominick's legacy will be a grocer who serves its neighbors rather than sells to consumers. It will be one that, "feeds your family well," Lencioni said.

Inspiring a new chapter

Elizabeth Aristeguieta of Burr Ridge, an entrepreneur, avid sailor and cook, has written a chapter in a new inspirational book called, "So, What Do You Do?" Her chapter is called, "Sail Away Girl." She also is planning to sail around the world in 2015 and then cook with the locals at every port she visits.

Brown, CEOs talk with Obama

Greg Brown, CEO of Schaumburg-based Motorola Solutions, was in Washington, D.C. last week with other CEOs to talk with President Obama. "The conversation with the president on immigration reform was very constructive," Brown said. "This issue remains a top priority for the business community and will drive economic growth while simultaneously improving national security."

FastTrack

Jillian McAfee, general manager of Downsize Fitness, a gym solely accepting overweight members, said its Naperville location has doubled in size. It went from 2,035 square feet to 4,070 square feet after a weightlifting gym closed next door. Downsize reopened last week. ... Susan G. Gohl, wife of the late Fredrick H. Gohl Sr., has been appointed as board chairman for Glendale Heights-based Chicago Blower Corp. She said she intends to follow her late husband's plan for the continued growth of the company.

Susan Parker has been approved by the Illinois State Police as a concealed carry instructor. Parker brings decades of firearms handling experience to her clients via her business, Artemis Protection in St. Charles. ... Chip Miceli, president of Elk Grove Village-based Des Plaines Office Equipment, has returned from Cedar Rapids, Iowa after attending a Dealer Council Advisory Board meeting of Great America, a nationwide provider of commercial equipment/technology financing dedicated to helping manufacturers, vendors, and dealers. Miceli serves on the advisory board to the Dealer Council.

David L. Crane, president and CEO of Hinsdale-based Adventist Midwest Health, has been elected as chairman of the Metropolitan Chicago Healthcare Council's board of directors. ... Jason Kinander, CEO of Electri-Flex Co., said he's in expansion mode. The company will expand its production into a 52,000-square-foot facility on Chancelor Drive in Roselle. The expansion will increase production output by up to 60 percent and will create 25 new jobs.

Bob Miller, a 37-year veteran ASE-certified mechanic and former manager-partner of the Shawnee Service Center in Wilmette, has joined the staff at McHenry-based Adams Auto Body and Service Center. ... Rick Scarff has been appointed as corporate controller at Oak Brook-based Ace Hardware Corp., the retailer-owned hardware cooperative. ... Wade Miquelon, chief financial officer and international president of Deerfield-based Walgreen Co. will be in Scottsdale, Ariz., on Tuesday to do a presentation before the Credit Suisse Healthcare Conference. And Mike Shapiro, senior vice president of finance, and Tony Perkins, investor relations for Schaumburg-based Catamaran, will do their presentation on Wednesday.

Mike Evans, president and CEO of the Naperville Area Chamber of Commerce, is leading the chamber's fourth delegation to China in April 2014. Business leaders and other travelers will visit Beijing, Shanghai, Suzhou, and Hangzhou. ... Vikki Kaiser, president and CEO of Great Lakes Credit Union in North Chicago, said a new branch in Willow Springs opens via a merger with Chicagoland Electrical Industry Credit Union. ... Julie Smolyansky, president and CEO of Morton Grove-based Lifeway Foods, and public health advocate and member of the UN Foundation's Global Entrepreneurs Council, has submitted comments for review and possible inclusion in the 2015 Dietary Guidelines for Americans.

• There's more to business than just the bottom line. We want to tell you about the people that make business work. Send news about people in business to akukec@dailyherald.com. Follow Anna Marie Kukec on LinkedIn and Facebook and as AMKukec on Twitter.

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