In the 18 years since Tony Palermo, or Tony P as he known by his friends and family, has owned his namesake restaurant with business partner Dan Ringwood, he’s managed to donate more than $380,000 to the community and operate arguably the Marina’s most popular restaurant. For his philanthropic efforts, the Playa Venice Sunrise Rotary Club is bestowing their highest honor on Palermo at their annual Cultural Dinner. At the Thursday, October 15 event at Playa Vista’s CenterPointe Club, Rotarians will present Palermo with the 2015 Sunrise Community Service Award, an accolade they present once a year to a deserving community member who has made a difference in the lives of others, gives back to the community and lives their life by the Rotary 4-Way test. This year’s theme is “Return to Italy,” an ode to Palermo’s and club president Tony Ciancimino’s Italian heritage.
“We couldn’t think of a more deserving honoree for this year’s service award,” said Cultural Dinner chair Gwen Vuchsas. “Tony has donated to practically every group in this community and he is especially generous with the local schools, from donating money and gift cards for raffles to inviting schools down to his restaurant to learn how to make pizza. He is a great example of someone who is dedicated to community service, both personally and professionally.”
Palermo, who lives in Westchester with his wife, Lauren, and two daughters, is also known around the community for playing Santa Claus for the Rotary-sponsored Santa Tour and for having one of the major float entries in the Fourth of July Parade. He is active in a variety of community organizations and currently serves on the Executive Board of the LAX Coastal Chamber and as the Board Treasurer for the Marina del Rey Convention and Visitors Bureau. No stranger to being honored, in the past Palermo has been awarded the Business of the Year award from Senator Ted Lieu, Restaurateur of the Year from the Southern California Restaurant Writers Association and last year, he received the Kid’s Need Heroes Community Pillar Award from the Westchester Family YMCA.
At the dinner, the club will also recognize longtime Venice resident Ty Pennington, who transformed the lives of hundreds of deserving families on the hit ABC show Extreme Makeover: Home Edition. Pennington inspired tens of thousands of volunteers across the country, as well as millions of television viewers worldwide, to give back to their communities, which is a cornerstone of the Rotary mission. Locally, the show helped inspire the Westchester Rotary’s Home Makeover Project, which has helped transform the homes of four local families and earlier this year, the Westchester Senior Center.
The Cultural Dinner is the Playa Venice Sunrise Rotary’s largest fundraiser of the year and helps the 60-member club, which meets every Wednesday morning at Whiskey Red’s, the ability to fund projects like the Teacher Mini-Grants, the Holiday Adopt-A-Family program, feeding the homeless, scholarships and supporting local fire fighters. The club also holds a variety of community events throughout the year including pancake breakfasts in Westchester and Venice and a St. Patrick’s Day BingoFest.
“It is truly an honor to be chosen to lead Playa Venice this year,” said Ciancimino. “Our members represent the best in our community and our events like Adopt a Family where we provide a joyful holiday where there wouldn’t have been one, Teacher Mini Grants and youth scholarships, which enhance educational opportunities, all offer a hand up to those in need. We proudly live the Rotary motto, ‘Service Above Self.’”
Tickets to the event are $85 and include appetizers, dinner, a hosted bar and entertainment.
For information, please call (310) 306-8525.