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Hospitality Wall of Fame Adds Five New Honorees

Wall of Fame Class of 2020Chris Stroup found himself at a crossroads in his mid-30s. He’d worked in the food and beverage arena for the vast majority of his adult life, serving as a bartender, a waiter, a host, an almost every customer-facing position that exists in the industry.

He wanted something different, something more. He wanted to learn what the back of the house looked like and what it meant to run an establishment. So, he turned to St. Louis Community College-Forest Park’s culinary arts program. From there, his career skyrocketed.

“I really enjoyed it,” said Stroup, who graduated in 2004. “The professors were really engaging. All of the professors were really serious and approachable. I really appreciate everything that Chef Michael Downey, who was obviously a huge influence, did. The number of stories he told just got you that more invigorated.”

Stroup, 48, is now positioned to tell stories to undergrads who will soon recognize him as a member of the STLCC Hospitality Studies Wall of Fame. The pandemic delayed the 2020 and 2021 events, so the school celebrates three classes April 21 from 4-7 p.m. in the Anheuser-Busch Dining Room of the Jack E. Miller Hospitality Center.

In addition to Stroup, the inductees for 2020 are Colleen Simmons and Price Barrett III (who are pictured above); the 2021 inductee is Rich LoRusso; and the 2022 inductee is Allan Gers.

“It’s a great honor,” Stroup said. “I know a lot of St. Louis area chefs, restauranteurs and food and beverage specialists who have already been inducted.”

Stroup has held several positions since leaving the college, including his most recent role as general manager of Shake Shack in Ladue. He’ll move to the Chesterfield location when it opens in July.

Previously he served as the director of food and beverage for four years – after holding the executive chef position for a year – at Hilton St. Louis at the Ballpark. There he oversaw 150 employees, 700 hotel rooms and 40,000 square feet of meeting space.

He’s also thrilled to now be known as a member of the Wall of Fame.

“I remember when I was going to school, seeing some of those leaders,” he said. “St. Louis has a great food culture. It’s really taken off in the last 20 years. St. Louis Community College has done good things for the students and the alumni that have graduated from there.”

2020 Inductees

Colleen Simmons
For the past 13 of her 16 years in the industry, Simmons has worked at Maritz Global Events. As the director of sourcing, she serves as the liaison during the opportunity, qualification, sourcing and sales process. Her primary focus is managing client relationships and the well-being of her eight direct reports. She started as a project manager, supporting Maritz’ largest clients.

She holds a bachelor’s degree in hospitality management from Lindenwood University and an associate degree in culinary arts from St. Louis Community College. She lives in her hometown of St. Louis with her husband and four children.

Price Barrett III
Barrett worked for Wonder Bread prior to joining Companion Baking Co. as a vice president. He was instrumental in multiple facets of the company.

Barrett made an indelible mark on the baking and pastry arts program at St. Louis Community College as an instructor, guest speaker and member of the advisory board. He served 10 years in the U.S. Army and many years in the Army Reserves. His greatest passion was his family: his wife, Romelyn, his children Brannon, Bradley, Lindsie and Brittney - and seven grandchildren. Barrett passed away in 2019.

Rich LoRusso2021 Inductee

Rich LoRusso
LoRusso’s involvement in the hospitality field ran deep and harkens to his family’s life on The Hill in St. Louis. His Nanna Serafina's love for cooking and sharing her food with friends and neighbors shaped how LoRusso approached his role as a restaurant owner. He and his wife, Terri, captured that passion when they opened the first LoRusso’s in 1986. They saw their footprint in the local restaurant community grow as their love for food and neighbors came to be known throughout the city.

They never took their success for granted and always found ways to give back to their neighborhoods, including working closely with Operation Food Search and the Saint Louis Area Food Bank. In 1998, they created the “Pasta Bowl,” which allows customers to nominate their favorite pasta dishes to become features at a fundraising dinner. The winner is then included on the LoRusso menu and a donation is made every time it is ordered.

LoRusso deeply loved Terri and was proud of their two sons, James and Tony. LoRusso passed away in March.

Allan Gers2022 Inductee

Allan Gers
Gers began servicing the uniform and linen needs of St. Louis' hospitality community in 1987. He started in his basement, expanded to a warehouse before opening two retail storefronts called Need-A-Uniform.

Gers believes in giving fast, friendly and dependable service for a reasonable price. His wife, Renee, worked alongside him doing alterations and embroidery for many years.

He is active in the Chefs de Cuisine Association and is known throughout the area as "The Uniform Guy."

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