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Family businesses are invaluable to the Olympic Village

April 2, 2015
Editorial , Lake Placid News

When tourists and residents in neighboring communities visit Lake Placid, they see a resort town brimming with business. They get a first impression of expensive properties, clean streets and sidewalks and assume the village is filled with and operated by the top 1 percent of wealthy Americans.

But if they spend any time in the Olympic Village meeting the people who live and work here - looking beyond the outer layer - they'll find something much different. Deep down, they'll find a community like any other small town in America struggling to survive.

When we look at Lake Placid, we see the real foundation of this village. We see family.

Since the mid-1800s, Lake Placid families have been hosting tourists eager to get into the outdoors for health and recreation. It began with small inns and hotels. Over time, the properties got larger and more numerous. Restaurants and shops were added, as were recreational properties, attractions and services. They call it the tourism industry. We call it northern hospitality.

The closing of Howard Johnson's restaurant on March 31 was a time to reflect on Lake Placid's hospitality roots. The Butler family - with patriarch Ron Butler at the helm - founded this property in 1956. What began as a restaurant grew into a popular hotel. We are grateful for their quality of service, generosity and the jobs they created. To all the Butlers, thanks for the wonderful Howard Johnson's memories.

Since the Butlers are keeping the hotel - recently changed from the Comfort Inn to the Quality Inn - the story of the Howard Johnson's restaurant only reveals the first 59 years of the Butler family history in Lake Placid. We're eager to see what comes next.

The Butlers are only one family that makes Lake Placid one of the best places to live on Earth. There are many more in the hospitality industry, including the Holderieds, Vespas, Weibrechts, Smiths of Northwoods Inn, Lussis, Cecunjanins, Kanes, Nicolas and Devlins.

While there are several outlet and chain stories in Lake Placid, most of the small businesses are mom-and-pop shops. They, too, are part of the economic backbone that makes this resort a success. Some of them include the Johnstons, Lennons, Delaneys, Beatties and Galvins, not to mention the Palace Theatre owners, the Clark family.

There are many, many more families we haven't mentioned in the tourism industry and other sectors of our local economy, as the list would be too long to print here. That only proves that they are the bedrock of this community. Residents, neighbors and tourists need to know the real reason Lake Placid is such a great place to live and visit.

It is the 99 percent of Americans - the ones getting their hands dirty every day - that make this village successful. For your hard work and dedication, thank you all for your service to this community.



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