PACIFIC GROVE – Longtime Pacific Grove Chamber of Commerce President Moe Ammar is retiring after the first year after nearly 30 years of service to the city’s business community.
Pacific Grove Mayor Bill Peake said Ammar’s boundless energy and enthusiasm for promoting Pacific Grove and, in particular, local businesses, is his greatest asset.
“His tenure in the chamber speaks volumes,” Peake said. “It’s a cliché, but it’s going to be hard to replace. His wealth of knowledge and dynamism are unprecedented.
Ammar made the announcement on Monday. His retirement is effective January 31, 2022 but he plans to remain available to support the chamber.
“The top of my to-do list is enjoying PG and the destination,” Ammar said. “I have always worked on all PG events. I want to sit back, relax and have more fun.
Ammar said he will soon be 65 and has six grandchildren under the age of 7 who he wants to spend more time with the rest of the family with.
For the past 29 years, Ammar has been a staple of the Pacific Grove business scene, constantly checking out local owners and their stores, attending board meetings and working events around the Monterey Peninsula. The chamber is the voice of local businesses from Pacific Grove to the city and represents business interests at the local and state level.
Ammar was born in Beirut, Lebanon. He came to the United States in 1976 to study at the university and rose through the ranks of the hospitality industry after graduating from the University of Nevada in Las Vegas in 1979. He opened hotels in Dubai, Baghdad and Damascus with Sheraton Corporation before landing on the Monterey Peninsula.
“I came to the peninsula in 1986 to help open the Sheraton, now the Marriot… loved the area and didn’t want to leave,” Ammar said.
He worked at the Monterey DoubleTree Hotel for a few years, which is now the Portola Hotel & Spa. Ammar said the position opened at the Pacific Grove Chamber of Commerce in January 1993.
“My friend Joe Shammas, owner of PG Travel, asked me to apply,” Ammar said. “I applied and got the job.
The state of local affairs in Pacific Grove at that time was “really bad” as Fords, a store in the Holman Building, Sprouse-Reitz, The Great Put On and other stores closed, leaving the city with a low rate. 60% vacancy. .
Ammar said that today the state of the business environment in Pacific Grove is exceptionally positive.
“We have a great city council and pro-business staff. We are lucky. With the ATC (American Tin Canney) hotel, we are going in the right direction, ”he said.
Ammar credits the Pacific Grove Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors and its leadership team for the success of the organization over the years. Under Ammar, the chamber weathered the economic storms of the early 1990s, September 11, the Great Recession, and the current COVID-19 pandemic.
He said his greatest achievement had been receiving the “Key to the City of Pacific Grove” in 2000 from the late Mayor Sandy Kauffman and council.
Under his leadership, the chamber adopted four voting measures in support of local business priorities. In 2001, the Downtown Business Improvement District was formed by the chamber which benefits 230 businesses. In 2007, the chamber helped establish the Hospitality Improvement District which represents and benefits 23 accommodation establishments, and added the Tourist Information Center eight years ago.
During Ammar’s tenure, events such as “Good Old Days” grew from two blocks to nine, and the Pacific Grove car auction was introduced at Pacific Grove Golf Links. The organization has also adopted the Holman Highway between Asilomar Conference Grounds and the Monterey Peninsula Community Hospital, volunteering to pick up trash and keep the pavement clean for the past 11 years.
Ammar taught hospitality at Monterey Peninsula College for 17 years and has been married to his wife Trina for 43 years. Together they have three children and six grandchildren.
The House board is meeting on Thursday to plan the statewide search to begin the process of replacing the next president.