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Pacific Grove Chamber president to retire after 29 years – Monterey Herald

PACIFIC GROVE – Long-time Pacific Grove Chamber of Commerce President Moe Ammar is retiring after the first of year following nearly 30 years of service to the business community in the city.

Ammar

Pacific Grove Mayor Bill Peake said that Ammar’s boundless energy and enthusiasm for promoting Pacific Grove and, in particular local businesses, is his greatest asset.

“His tenure at the chamber speaks volumes,” said Peake. “It’s a cliché, but he’s going to be hard to replace. His wealth of knowledge and drive is unparalleled.”

Ammar made the announcement Monday. His retirement is effective Jan. 31, 2022 but he plans to remain available to support the chamber.

“Top of my bucket list is to enjoy PG and the destination,” said Ammar. “I have always worked all the PG events. I want to sit back, relax and have more fun.”

Ammar said that he will be 65 years old shortly and he has six grandchildren under the age of 7 who he wants to spend more time with along with the rest of the family.

For the past 29 years, Ammar has been a fixture of the Pacific Grove business scene, checking on local proprietors and their shops constantly, attending council meetings and working events around the Monterey Peninsula. The chamber is the voice of local Pacific Grove businesses in town 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 attend college and rose up the ladder of the hotel industry after getting his degree at the University of Nevada 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 assist with the opening of the Sheraton hotel, now the Marriot … loved the area, and did not want to leave,” Ammar said.

He worked at the Monterey DoubleTree Hotel for a couple of years, which is now the Portola Hotel & Spa. Ammar said that the job opened up at the Pacific Grove Chamber of Commerce in January 1993.

“My friend Joe Shammas who owns PG Travel asked me to apply,’ said Ammar. “I applied and got the job.”

The state of local business 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 60% vacancy rate.

Ammar said that today, the state of the business environment in Pacific Grove is exceptionally positive.

“We have a great pro-business city council and staff. We are lucky. With the ATC (American Tin Canney) Hotel, we are moving in the right direction,” he said.

Ammar credits the Pacific Grove Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors and its management team for the success of the organization through the years. Under Ammar, the chamber has weathered the economic storms of the early 1990s, 9/11, the Great Recession, and the current COVID-19 pandemic.

He said his greatest accomplishment was receiving the “Key to the City of Pacific Grove” in 2000 from the late Mayor Sandy Kauffman and the council.

Under his leadership, the chamber has passed four ballot 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 form the Hospitality Improvement District that represents and benefits 23 lodging establishments, and added the Tourist Information Center eight years ago.

During Ammar’s tenure, events like “Good Old Days” grew from two city blocks to nine, and the Pacific Grove Car Auction was introduced at the Pacific Grove Golf Links. The organization also adopted the Holman Highway between Asilomar Conference Grounds and Community Hospital of the Monterey Peninsula, volunteering to pick up trash and keep the roadway 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 Chamber Board is meeting on Thursday to plan the state-wide search to begin the replacement process for the next president.

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