JOHN-GEORGES
#34

John Georges

Made Money InFood Services, Business Development, Philanthropy
Wealth $381 Million (TNHE)

“We have grown to the point, with three daily newspapers and 13 weeklies, as well as rapidly growing digital sites, that we need to expand our management team to match,” said John Georges, 57, to The Advocate – the largest newspaper in Louisiana – which he owns. “We are very fortunate to find someone from right here in Louisiana to complete the successful team we already have,” he said, as it was announced that Julie Terzotis was appointed the Advocate’s new president. Georges acquired The Advocate in 2013.

An entrepreneur in multiple industries, an avowed philanthropist, and a strong supporter of Hellenic causes, Georges is Founder and CEO of Georges Enterprises, a company based in Elmwood, LA, specializing in acquiring and growing businesses. It invests in food vending, grocery distribution, video/arcade entertainment, restaurants, and media outlets.

Georges Enterprises began as Imperial Trading in 1916, a wholesale grocery distribution company founded by Georges’ grandfather Gus Pelias. The company is now the eighth largest convenience store supplier in the nation.

Georges started out in the family business at a young age, sweeping warehouse floors at age 11 and making deliveries by age 15. His father, Dennis Georges, immigrated to the United States after serving in the Greek Resistance and the Royal Greek Air Force at a young age during World War II.

He completed his studies at Tulane University in 1983, turning his attention to Imperial Trading, expanding its sales from $29 million to $1 billion today, with 5,000 retailers in 12 states. Recent acquisitions by Georges Enterprises include: $50 million food distributor Clifford D. Fite Company (2011), $100 million Union Grocery (2010) and historic Bourbon Street restaurant Galatoire’s (2009). Georges said in a related press release, “We are looking to make more acquisitions in the food distribution sector.”

In 2006, Imperial Vending merged with Whitener Snacks to become Refreshment Solutions, a Georges Enterprises subsidiary. Georges Enterprises’ AMA Distributors specializes in entertainment from video games and pool tables to jukeboxes. Among Georges Enterprises’ portfolio of real estate holdings are 25 acres of industrial real estate in the greater New Orleans area, including the site once occupied by Louisiana Film Studios.

Georges Enterprises was previously very involved with marine services. However, as Georges confirmed to the TNH immediately after the BP Oil Spill in January 2010, the company sold its fleet of offshore tugs under Dolphin Marine International Company to concentrate on its food distribution business. The family of his wife, the former Dathel Coleman, owns cleanup company Oil Mop OMI.

Georges is very involved with both Louisiana public life and the community of the Greek Orthodox Cathedral of the Holy Trinity. The former church president hosted Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew when he visited New Orleans in October 2009.

A notable campaign financier, Georges unsuccessfully ran for governor of Louisiana as an independent in 2007.

He is a member of Tulane University’s President’s Council. Georges is a foundation member of the University of New Orleans and LSU Medical. He is on the New Orleans Business Council, Jefferson Business Council, and the New Orleans Chamber of Council board of directors. He has also chaired and been vice president of the Western Region of the Young Presidents Organization. He has chaired the Metairie Park Country Day School Recovery and been on the board of both Crimestoppers and the Young Leadership Council of New Orleans. He is also on the board of The Hellenic Initiative, and he and his wife, Dathel, are involved in numerous other philanthropic endeavors.

The Georges have three children: Zana, Liza, and Nike.

Georges was instrumental in rebuilding the Greek community in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina in 2005. Everything was “a wasteland,” he told TNH in 2015, “and we rebuilt everything in 90 days – it was a miracle.”

Last June, Georges purchased more commercial real estate on St. Charles Street, in what  appears to be a strategy to expand the Galatoire restaurants, New Orleans City Business reported.