Posted: Thursday, March 13, 2014 9:30 am | Updated: 1:05 pm, Thu Mar 13, 2014.
When George Antoniotti was selected to be featured as the Discovery Bay Chamber of Commerce member of the month, I was genuinely happy – for him, for the readers, and for me. George is one of those individuals who participates in just about everything “community,” and he always does it with a smile.
George is an area representative for Chrissa Imports Ltd. of San Francisco. By day, he travels throughout the East Bay offering his unique fare of European and domestic beer, wine and spirits. When he’s not on the road, he is embedded in his community’s organizations, activities and events; volunteering his time, services and products.
As a former Exalted Ruler of the Richmond Elks Lodge, George is no stranger to the benefits of charitable work. He has a long history of dedication to many organizations. He is a current member of the San Francisco Elks Lodge; an active participant in Kaleidoscope Cancer Connection; and he has membership in the Discovery Bay Chamber of Commerce, the Discovery Bay Yacht Club and the Discovery Bay Country Club.
George is busy. George is also legally blind. So how does he travel from Bethel Island to Livermore and Fremont to Tracy? A distributor of alcoholic beverages for restaurants and stores must cover a great deal of territory to ensure his products continue to move. His customers rely on him. And George relies on the kindness of his family, friends and neighbors to drive him to his daily destinations. “I am so fortunate to have such good friends here,” George said. “Since I cannot drive, I pay people a small fee to drive me.”
George was born in Guatemala City in Central America, and in 1958, his family moved to San Francisco for a better life. George grew up and worked on computers for Bank of America until the 1980s. He left the corporate environment after 18 years and started his own computer training center. He met his wife Judi in 1990 ,and a year later they opened a bar, Judi’s Place, in downtown San Francisco. “We were on Market Street at Van Ness,” George recalls. “We had a great location, and we were very successful.”
For 15 years, Judi’s Place had taken over San Francisco’s Civic Center Market Place. Then, the three-martini lunch went out the door, the smoking ban followed, “and things
slowed down,” said George. “I watched all the bars around me close, and I was the only one left.” George worried about the inevitable. The culture of the area was changing, and George and Judi knew change was imminent.
But when the building’s owner demanded more than double an increase in rent, the only choice was to close. “We were the last bar on the block,” said George. “Our last night in operation was Halloween 2006.”
After so many years in the bar business, George had many friends. One of those friends worked for Chrissa Imports and was a supplier to George’s bar. He suggested George contact the owners, and in 2007, George’s fate led him to his current employment with Chrissa Imports.
George and Judi moved to Discovery Bay three years ago. “I love interacting with people,” George said. Yes, George is busy. George is also one great guy with a passion for life and people. If you see George at an event, I highly recommend you introduce yourself. You will surely walk away smiling.
Pati Lucido Gonsalves is the Discovery Bay Chamber of Commerce Vice President and Marketing Director