Meeting Monday - April 3, 2017

2017 Valentino

First Coast Success:  John Valentino's mantra is 'always make it better'

by Karen Brune Mathis, Daily Record Managing Editor 

John Valentino opened his first restaurant in Jacksonville 14 years ago.

That was a Mellow Mushroom Pizza Bakers along Southside Boulevard in the Tinseltown area. He followed that with more Mellow Mushroom franchises in Fleming Island, Jacksonville Beach, River City Marketplace and Avondale. He is looking for a site in the Bartram Park area.

That wasn’t all.

Since 2014, he has been a partner and CEO of the Gallery Restaurant Group, which owns the Burrito Gallery and Uptown Kitchen & Bar.

The group owns the Burrito Gallery restaurant Downtown, while Valentino and the group’s managing member own the Burrito Gallery in Riverside and are building one at the Beaches. Sites are in review for the Tinseltown area, Orange Park, Bartram and St. Augustine.

The group also owns Uptown Kitchen & Bar in Springfield. He would like to expand that concept into Tinseltown, Bartram and the Beaches.

Last summer, he bought The French Pantry in Southside and will open another in Westside.

It’s a collective big business. The concepts employ 707 people.

A Jacksonville native, Valentino, 47, moved to Atlanta in sixth grade with his family. He earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration in 1993 from the University of West Georgia and moved back to Jacksonville in the late 1990s with his wife, Christy, a pharmacist.  They have three children from ages 4 to 14.

golf 2016 winner

October 4, 2016 - 52nd Meninak/Rotary Charity Golf Tournament
The sun was shining down on the 52nd Charity Golf Tournament as Golf Chair Buzz Tyre led our team to another win against Rotary. With a score of Meninak 12.5 and Rotary 8.5, Team Meninak braved the wind and a 100% chance of rain finishing a winner.  A very special thank you to: Larry Cobb and Nick Napoleon, Tony Marinatos and Keith Kinsella, Bunky Johnson and Gregg Deiboldt, Kerry Varkonda and George Erickson, Brian Stokes and Bill Nipper, Dan Wolff, Buzz Tyre and Rick Collins, Jonathan Shields and Bill Briggs, Gil Wright and John O'Neill. 


CP 2016

September 26, 2016 - Meninak presents $30,000 Charity Project Award
The Meninak Club presented its 2016 Charity Grant award to Florida Baptist Children's Homes Connections. The grant is awarded annually to a youth-serving nonprofit to apply towards a capital improvement. This year's $30,000 will provide funds to replace the freezer and generator systems.  Charity Project Chair Patrick Heatherington and President Kris Robinson presented the check to Adrienne Boyette and Jeff Fletcher. 


swim winners

July 30, 2016 - 83rd Meninak Lifeguard Ocean Marathon Swim
Swimming in the ocean for 3.5 miles is daunting for most but for Jacksonville Beach lifeguards, its part of the fun. 29 members of the American Red Cross Volunteer Lifesaving Corps competed in the 83rd Meninak Swim from Ponte Vedra Beach to Jacksonville Beach. The race is only open to lifeguards from the corps, including alumni. For the second time in it's 83 year history, a woman won the swim.  Autumn Utech came in first at 1:28:07, Eli Phillips finished second at 1:29:56, and Cleve Cooney was third at 1:37:12.

2016 Scholarship Robinson Moulton

May 23, 2016 - 20th Meninak Awards $25,000 in ScholarshipsMeninak awarded five $5,000 scholarships to high school seniors. The recipients must have participated in the Youth Leadership Jacksonville program and use the grants to attend an accredited college. Meninak has granted 100 scholarships totaling $500,000 since 1997. L-R:  Scholarship Chair Claude Moulton, Eleanor Marshall of Keystone Heights, Ravi Patel of Stanton, Catherine Maige of Bishop Kenny, Robert Williams of Orange Park, Meklit Daniel of Stanton, and President Kris Robinson.L-R: Scholarship Chair Will Wheeler, Brandon Canaday - University of Florida, Camila Rodriguez-Rojas - University of Miami, Grace Shepherd - Georgetown University, Aleksandra Skrypko - Florida State University, Harold Geddies - Florida State University, Meninak President Karen Mathis.  


June 13, 2013 - Meninak receives two awards at Junior Achievement Hall of Fame event
Each year Junior Achievement of North Florida's Hall of Fame event recognizes the outstanding companies, individuals, and organizations that support JA. On June 13, 2013, Meninak was recognized as one of the top three Junior Achievement volunteer organizations during the 2012/2013 school year. First place went to Florida Blue for teaching over 1000 students; Second place to Bank of America/Merrill Lynch and Third place went to Meninak for teaching 300 students during the school year.This is an impressive Meninak accomplishment, particularly considering the size of our organization relative to the other award recipients. More than 25 Meninaks have been JA volunteers. Over 100 companies and organizations provide volunteers for JA and the top three organizations account for nearly a third of all volunteers.An additional award, the Richard Maxwell Award, is given to a company, organization, or individual who has gone above and beyond to reach out to serve JA students who would otherwise not be exposed to JA's programs. This award is not given every year. We are proud to say that one of our own Meninaks, Kerry Varkonda, received the 2013 Richard Maxwell Award for organizing members of the Meninak Club of Jacksonville to volunteer in the classroom.These two awards reflect the heart for service that is central to the people of Meninak – We provide help where none is available.

Since 1919, the Meninak Club of Jacksonville has carved a unique role for itself in our community. Attracting top business, professional, military and civic leaders to its ranks, Meninak has long been a catalyst for strengthening bonds among influential people and for helping shape the future of the Jacksonville community.
    We choose to dedicate ourselves to the betterment of Northeast Florida, lending help where none is available, especially when enhancing the lives of children. Join us

Calendar of Events

  • 3 Apr 2017
    01:30 am to 02:30 pm

  • 10 Apr 2017
    01:30 am to 02:30 pm

  • 24 Apr 2017
    08:30 am to 05:00 pm

3 Apr - 10 Apr
24 Apr - 24 Apr