Food was the focus of the June 26 membership meeting and luncheon at .
The "Taking Care of Business" relationship-building group hosted a "Taste of the Riverview Chamber" featuring food from 16 member restaurants. More than 200 chamber members and guests took advantage of the chance to sample fare ranging from homemade clam chowder provided by the Hilton Garden Inn to a spicy noodles and vegetables from Thai X-Press.
Also on hand was the chamber's newest restaurant member, , which is currently building a new restaurant on U.S. 301 near Krycul Avenue in Riverview. Restaurant representatives Lauren Elmhurst, Michael Johnson and Vicki Sharer dished out helpings of corn casserole and barbecue ribs to hungry chamber members. According to Michael Johnson, the new restaurant will be open for business in mid-August.
Members of "Taking Care of Business" took advantage of the captive audience to trumpet the merits of the relationship-building group, which meets every Thursday from 7:30-9 a.m. at 10221 Big Bend Rd., Riverview.
It's not a typical networking group, said member Stacy Self.
She joined TCOB when she became a chamber member four years ago. Three years ago her father was critically injured when he was struck by a car.
"I remember being wrapped in so much support by people who are sitting in this room today," said Self.
Then, in May, she was diagnosed with pneumonia and placed on bed rest. Members of TCOB pooled their resources to pay for meals, made sure her lawn was mowed and laundry done, took her to doctor's appointments and even supplied her with reading materials and movies to watch during her recuperation.
"These people will be your friend," she said. "They will support and encourage you no matter what journey you're on."
Randy Ramos of agreed.
"From the first day I walked in, I could tell it was unlike any networking group I've been a part of," said Ramos. Not only does the group give him an opportunity to promote his own business, "It gives me a place to find honest, reliable people to refer."
Joe Eletto, who sells air purifiers, said the $50 he paid in 2004 to join TCOB was the best investment he could have made.
The networking group was founded by Connie Lesko, former executive director of the chamber, nine years ago.
Eletto said he continues to follow the advice Lesko gave him when he joined TCOB.
"Connie taught us to give to others first, to be loyal in attendance, to develop real friendships and have an atmosphere of fun," he said. "In the years I've been a part of TCOB, we've built very strong, family-like relationships.
"It's all about helping others to become successful," he said. "I can't start my Thursday without it."
The weekly meetings include one-to-one appointments between members, a presentation by a member and the opportunity for each member to thank another member for assistance or a referral.
For more information on the TCOB relationship-building group, visit the chamber's website.