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Greensboro hotel, restaurant innovators honored

GREENSBORO, N.C. -- It would be hard to find two people who are more forward-thinking than Dennis and Nancy Quaintance.

Not long after they got married in the early 1980s, they decided they wanted to become “Mr. & Mrs. Hotel-Restaurant Greensboro.” Mission accomplished!

‘We both love being in in hotels and restaurants,” Nancy told me during a recent visit.

“We want people’s lives to be more full and rich because they dine or stay with us," Dennis said.

Nancy is the vice-president, Dennis the CEO of Quaintance-Weaver Restaurants and Hotels.

Not only did the duo build the Proximity, which opened 10 years ago as one of the country’s most energy efficiency hotels, but also the O’Henry Hotel and it’s restaurant, the Green Valley Grille as well as two Lucky 32 Restaurants in Greensboro and Cary.

“I would say that mostly it’s a team. It’s cooperative. But if it comes down to one person decides about something, we would probably err with our CEO,” Nancy said. To which Dennis responded, “The way we often talk about that is that out of every 10,000 decisions, I should make one.”

A few months back, both made a milestone decision which they announced at this gathering of employees: they were selling the company to a trust that provides retirement benefits to the company’s 600-plus workers. If you’re older than 18 and have worked for the company more than a year, you’re in. You’re vested after three years.

“It’s a really sustainable thing to do for the company and they all know that the company will be here and they get to share in the success that we do,” Nancy said.

It also helps the Quaintances avoid challenges down the road.

“So that we wouldn’t have to be running around 20 or 30 years from now figuring out, ‘On no, Dennis and Nancy just kicked the bucket -- maybe 40 to 50 years -- (laughter) so what are we going to do with the ownership of the company.’ We wanted to deal with this proactively,” Dennis said.

But it doesn’t mean the Quaintances have given up their day-to-say involvement in the business. They’re still walking the properties every day and dealing with the challenges that come along including, most recently, HB2.

“Within a week of HB2 passing, we had over $100,000 in reservations cancelled,” Dennis said.

There are also the relatively new concepts of internet ratings sites and social media which, if you’re in the hospitality business, can make or break you.

"The thing about social media is people can put anything out there in the universe whether it’s accurate or not accurate. But from our perspective what they put out there, and there’s a vein or truth sometimes in what a lot of people say and what you hear. So that’s our opportunity to think about how we can be better,” Nancy said.

“Our company is about as big as it can be. But my bet is over the next 20 years, that we add one or two or three, no more than five new businesses, but they’ll all probably be in Greensboro or within the Triad,” Dennis said. “We think most of our challenges relate to how well we take care of our guests and colleagues. We’re here to be of genuine service to our brothers and sisters who are in priority sequence: our guests, our colleagues, our shareholders (who are now our colleagues) and then the earth and her people. So everything we do is within that context.”

And that life mission is why the Quaintances are being recognized this week as the 2017 Advocates of Compassion and Service to the Community by The Salvation Army of Greensboro. The Salvation army says they truly live up to its motto of “doing the most good.”

For more information on Dennis and Nancy Quaintance and their company, click here.