If you were to look up the word “entrepreneur” in the dictionary, it wouldn’t surprise us if you saw George Liaskos’ picture and biography. George is the owner of Hotel, LLC dba Holiday Inn Express & Suites Peekskill and his remarkable story is the reason why he’s our third “15 for 15” Outstanding Entrepreneur Award honoree.
You can read a more detailed narrative about George’s story on our Success Stories page, including his start as a busboy on a Merchant Marine’s ship in his home country of Greece at the young age of 15, his early jobs as an immigrant in New York, and finally after many years of hard work becoming a partner in a Greek restaurant. But our favorite story is George taking down a shale hill he affectionately called “The Mountain” to get the land to accomplish his ultimate dream, build his own hotel. The story goes that George wanted to use the adjacent lot to the restaurant, that had become the “it” venue for wedding and special events, but there was just one issue – it had a massive shale hill encompassing the property – not exactly ideal for building a hotel. He hired a contractor to excavate the mountain, but George, naturally curious, began to dabble in operating some of the contractor’s equipment, and soon decided he could purchase the equipment, excavate, crush and sell the rock himself.
So George established the only mining company in Cortland, NY, in the process creating a lucrative business that would later fund his hotel. Operating heavy machinery to quarry rock, is not what the typical restauranteur does in the restaurant’s off-hours, but George had a plan and he wouldn’t be deterred. When the parcel was finally leveled, George was off to fulfill his biggest dream yet. Owning a hotel. Little did he know the town would not agree to extend the PILOT tax abatement many other NY hoteliers had used so after all that grueling work he was again looking for a location for his restaurant.
By the time he had secured the flag and found the site for the hotel, the Great Recession had caused banks to not make loans to construct new hotels, especially for someone without hotel experience. George reached out to Mercantile and we partnered with New York Business Development CDC and Home Loan Investment Bank of Rhode Island to close on the 504 loan to build a 76-room Holiday Inn Express & Suites. The hotel opened with the highest level of reservations to be loaded to the franchisor’s system eventually been recognized as a “New Property of the Year” by the franchisor.
We’re proud to call George a client and to be able to share his “never quit” attitude. He exemplifies what entrepreneurs, and immigrants for that matter, contribute to the United States economy.
– Your 504 Experts