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Pano Karatassos named 2008 NRN Fine Dining Legend award winner

CHICAGO April Buckhead Life Restaurant Group is recognized as having some of the country’s most innovative independent restaurants, including his company’s flagship Pano & Paul’s, has been selected as the 2008 Nation’s Restaurant News Fine Dining Legend. — Pano Karatassos, whose Atlanta-based

Sponsored by American Express, the Legend award will be presented on Sunday, May 18, during NRN’s Fine Dining Hall of Fame Luncheon at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel here. Also during this event, 11 white-tablecloth restaurants will be inducted into NRN’s Fine Dining Hall of Fame. — Pano Karatassos, whose Atlanta-based

Since 1979, when he opened Pano & Paul’s, Karatassos has built a growing and successful restaurant empire, which he oversees to this day with a keen eye. “Running a restaurant is not a big thing; it’s just a thousand little things,” he said. — Pano Karatassos, whose Atlanta-based

“Pano Karatassos is an incredible restaurant operator with an amazing attention to detail,” said NRN publisher Tom Larranaga. “He has created one of the finest restaurant groups in America, and it is a privilege to place his name beside our previous Legend award winners. We congratulate Pano on his career accomplishments and his generous support of the community and charitable endeavors.” — Pano Karatassos, whose Atlanta-based

Hans Lindh, vice president, restaurant industry for American Express, said: “It is an honor for American Express to join with Nation’s Restaurant News in celebrating the career accomplishments of Pano Karatassos, recipient of the 2008 Fine Dining Legend Award. Congratulations to Pano, whose legendary passion for food quality and service is a hallmark of all the restaurants that comprise his outstanding Buckhead Life Restaurant Group.” — Pano Karatassos, whose Atlanta-based

Originally from Savannah, Ga., Karatassos got a taste of restaurants as a youngster working in his father’s restaurant import business, Pano’s Food Shop. After graduating in 1960 from The Culinary Institute of America, his journey to Atlanta wound through many first-class establishments. He did his apprenticeship at the Greenbrier Hotel in White Sulfur Springs, W. Va., and went on to hold numerous positions in hotels, including the DeSoto Hotel in Savannah, the Palm Beach Everglades Club in Palm Beach, Fla., and the Gstaad Palace Hotel in Gstaad, Switzerland. — Pano Karatassos, whose Atlanta-based

While employed at the Hotel Corporation of America in Washington, D.C., he met Chef Paul Albrecht. They admired each other’s talents and commitment to excellence. After years of working for other people, Karatassos decided to launch his own restaurant with Albrecht as chef-partner. Together, they opened Pano & Paul’s in 1979. The restaurant was inducted into NRN’s Fine Dining Hall of Fame in 1986. — Pano Karatassos, whose Atlanta-based

Following the debut of Pano & Paul’s, Karatassos expanded his culinary empire, which now includes the Atlanta Fish Market, 103 West, Pricci, the Buckhead Diner, Chops, the Lobster Bar at Chops, The Club at Chops, Veni Vidi Vici, the Buckhead Bread Company & Corner Café, Nava, Bluepointe and Kyma. — Pano Karatassos, whose Atlanta-based

Chops Lobster Bar Boca Raton, Fla., was opened in March 2007 as the first location in a national expansion of that restaurant concept. In addition, the Buckhead Life Restaurant Group is a partner in Atlanta’s Philips Arena’s premier sports catering division with Larry Levy, chairman and chief executive of Chicago-based Levy Restaurants. — Pano Karatassos, whose Atlanta-based

Noted for being generous with local charities, Karatassos is especially focused on ending hunger. He is the Atlanta chairperson for the national Share Our Strength, or SOS, Taste of the Nation event. He also developed the country’s first freshly “prepared food program” for the hungry, versus the traditional method of offering of leftovers or canned food. In addition, he is a prominent fundraiser for the March of Dimes. — Pano Karatassos, whose Atlanta-based

Over the years the Atlanta restaurateur has received numerous awards honoring his restaurants, business leadership and charitable activities. These have included the 2007 Cornerstone Humanitarian Award from the National Restaurant Association and the 2006 Great Oak Award from Share Our Strength. He is also a past recipient of NRN’s Golden Chain Award and earned a Silver Plate from the International Foodservice Manufacturers Association, or IFMA, for being the Independent Restaurant Operator of the Year. — Pano Karatassos, whose Atlanta-based

Karatassos and his wife, Georgia, have three children, Anne, Pano, and Nicholas, all of whom have assumed leadership roles in Buckhead Life Restaurant Group. — Pano Karatassos, whose Atlanta-based

Selected by the editors of Nation’s Restaurant News, the Fine Dining Legend Award recognizes individuals who have devoted their lives to creating restaurants, menus and service standards that epitomize the fine-dining experience and have contributed their time, energy and talents as good citizens of the restaurant industry. — Pano Karatassos, whose Atlanta-based

Karatassos joins a list of Legend winners that reads like a who’s who in fine dining: Jerry Berns, 1994; Roland and Victor Gotti, 1995; André Soltner, 1996; Anthony Athanas, 1997; Harry Knowles, 1998; George Lang, 1999; Paul Prudhomme, 2000; Vincent J. Bommarito, 2001; Ralph and Maria Evans, 2002; Sirio Maccioni, 2003; Ella Brennan, 2004; Tony May, 2005; Ted Balestreri and Bert Cutino, 2006; and Wolfgang Puck, 2007. — Pano Karatassos, whose Atlanta-based

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