Liberto named 2004 NAC Mickey Warner award recipient
Frank Liberto of Ricos Products Company and Liberto Specialty Company
will be honored with the 2004 National Association of Concessionaires'
Mickey Warner Award. The award will be presented Thursday, June 17 at
the Membership Luncheon during the NAC Annual Convention & Trade Show
in St. Louis.
The Mickey Warner Award is named for the originator of the NAC Concession Manager
Certification program, and a great innovator and educator for the concessions
industry. "We are pleased to honor Frank for his longevity and leadership
in the industry as well as his steadfast support and commitment to NAC,"
said NAC President Chris Bigelow of The Bigelow Companies. Liberto is
the third person to be honored with this award; previous winners are Shelley
Feldman, NAC director of education, and Walter Dunn of The Coca-Cola Company.
Frank Liberto has been in the concessions industry for almost 40 years,
and is the third-generation family members to run Liberto Specialty Company,
an 86-year-old wholesale distributor of concession supplies and equipment.
Liberto began his career at an early age, hawking food items at local
San Antonio parades and festivals, and worked part-time in the family
business while in high school. He graduated from St. Mary's University
with a degree in marketing and became a management trainee at Liberto
Specialty. While at St. Mary's, Frank was commissioned a 2nd Lieutenant
in Field Artillery, and spent six months on active duty and ending his
twelve years in the active reserve as a captain.
While at Liberto Specialty, Frank also founded Dine-A-Mite Foods, a chain
of snack bars operating in shopping centers, malls and discount stores,
as well as Await Concessions, which operated all food concessions at Joe
Freeman Coliseum. Frank was made general manager of Liberto Specialty
in the early 1960's.
Frank's vision for the company included growth, and he acquired many
companies that are now part of the Liberto Family of Companies. In 1980
he founded Ricos Products Company, named for his father Enrico "Rico"
Liberto. The Liberto Family of Companies now includes: Liberto of San
Antonio, Liberto of Dallas, Liberto of Harlingen, Liberto of Colorado,
Liberto of North Carolina, Liberto of Houston, Liberto Manufacturing,
Liberto Management, Ricos Products, Ricos Manufacturing, and The Associate
Network of Distributors (A.N.D.I.), a computer-based service bureau which
allows retail chains to buy from several distributors.
Frank Liberto is widely known as "The Father of Nachos" in
the industry for introducing nachos to the stadium/arena market in 1976
at Texas Rangers Stadium. After their introduction to a nationwide audience
during a Monday Night Football Game, Liberto found he still had to convince
concessionaires to try out his new item. He sampled them at trade shows
and traveled around the country touting his product. He dutifully proved
to his colleagues that nachos did not cannibalize other sales. It had
the opposite effect - sales increased, particularly of soft drinks and
beverages. Nachos were determined to be new money, and increased per caps.
Frank's involvement with the National Association of Concessionaires
dates back to 1970, when he joined the NAC board as a regional vice president,
a position he has held continually since then. He has been active in holding
regional meetings and seminars in his region, and is a recipient of the
NAC Bert Nathan Memorial Award, for leadership and involvement in the
theatre concessions industry.
Frank has volunteered and is a member of many charitable and business
organizations. He served on the St. Mary's University Alumni Board, and
the Variety Club of Texas Board, and has been or is a member of The Texas
Restaurant Association, the National Restaurant Association, United States
Chamber of Commerce, San Antonio Chamber of Commerce, San Antonio Hispanic
Chamber of Commerce, Knights of Columbus, The Alhambras International,
National Association of Wholesale Distributors, National Federation of
Independent Businesses, and the San Antonio Crime Council.
Mickey Warner (1920-1995) had a passion to give recreational foodservice
its professional place. His passion led to the innovation of certification
programs, an industry textbook, and an NAC university chair.
In the early 1980's, Warner discussed the idea of funding university-level
research and teaching with then-NAC president Shelley Feldman. The NAC
Board established a chair at Florida International University's, School
of Hospitality Management.
In 1985, at the age of 65, Warner entered a doctorate program at the
College of Education at FIU to perform research in recreational foodservice
management. Within two years, he completed the entire required curriculum,
passed the comprehensive examination and presented his research topics
on the competencies of a recreational foodservice manager to the dissertation
committee. He was turned down because of a lack of "body of knowledge."
Not to be defeated, Warner set out to establish a "body of knowledge"
by producing an all-encompassing textbook, Recreational Foodservice Management,
which is the cornerstone of the NAC certification program today. During
the busy summer of 1988 Warner wrote the textbook, established an undergraduate
course at FIU, and established a new, one-level certification program
for NAC. The next fall Warner represented his request for research to
the doctoral committee and was approved.
The National Association of Concessionaires was founded in 1944 to serve
the recreational and leisure-time food and beverage concessions industry
as a network and resource for operators, suppliers, manufacturers and
distributors. Association services include publications, educational seminars
and training programs, convention and trade shows and other programs for
the concessions industry.