Jorgensons honored for service

Lee and Marianne Jorgenson -
Lee and Marianne Jorgenson
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It’s not easy to make it in the restaurant business.

For not just surviving, but thriving for two decades – and, in the process, helping build up the island community around them – San Carlos restaurateurs Lee and Marianne Jorgenson have been named Bainbridge Business People of the Year for 2002.

The award was announced this week by the Bainbridge Island Chamber of Commerce. The Jorgensons will be honored at a luncheon, at 11:30 a.m. May 16 at Wing Point Golf and Country Club.

“We’re thrilled to be honored and recognized,” Lee Jorgenson said, “and to be part of the Bainbridge community that we love so dearly.”

The Jorgensons were selected by a Chamber of Commerce award committee, after a round of nominations by the organization’s members.

Among the criteria considered, Chamber Executive Director Kevin Dwyer said, were longevity in the local business community; involvement with the Chamber organization; and participation in other community and business activities.

“Clearly, Lee has a history of being involved in everything from youth sports to doing stuff for Helpline House, social services functions,” Dwyer said. “The guy has been exemplary in that regard, both he and his wife.”

Chamber member Merrill Robison, who supported the Jorgensons’ nomination, praised the couple for their professional and personal service.

“I’m just a fan of Lee’s,” Robison said. “I’ve seen him work at the Chamber and a lot of places... Being in the restaurant business for 18 years on this island tells you something. It tells you they must be doing something right.”

Lee Jorgenson learned the hospitality trade first with the Hyatt Corporation, and later with the posh Rainier Club and Sorrento Hotel in Seattle.

He and his wife moved to the island in 1982, and set up their own establishment two years later in the distinctive bungalow at 279 Madison Avenue.

Jorgenson credited good fortune in finding the right location, in a downtown area that would grow and thrive.

“We’ve (also) been blessed with good people over the years,” he said. “That’s made a difference.”

The restaurant has also given jobs and business skills to numerous young people over the years.

Much of the couple’s community service has focused on youth sports organizations, including Junior Golf, Little League, and Pee Wee football and basketball.

Other causes supported by the Jorgensons over the years include the CropWalk hunger relief program and the KidsUp! playground effort. They were early patrons for development of the Bainbridge Performing Arts center, and have given ongoing support to the Bainbridge Orchestra. Their annual poetry reading supports the local literary arts.

Most recently, the Jorgensons joined fellow restaurateur Mike Sharp of Four Swallows to stage a blues concert at the BPA Playhouse. The event drew a packed house, and raised thousands of dollars for Helpline.

Their latest project is the first-ever Bacon Bowl, slated for May 11, a day of friendly sports competition between high school students and Bainbridge Police.

“We decided early on that a big part of our marketing would be working in the community,” Jorgenson said. “Bainbridge seems to be a place where there’s no shortage of projects going on. If it’s feasible and we can help, we’ve tried to be of service as much as possible.”

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