Vergos instrumental in downtown Memphis revitalization

By Ben Watson - bio | email

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC-TV) - When it came to combining barbecue and downtown Memphis improvement, no business owner made the two things go together like Charlie Vergos.

"He was called Mr. Downtown," said Bobby Ellis, one of Vergos' employees.

For Mr. Downtown, everything was important when it came to supporting the business and organizations located in Memphis.

Dean Carayiannis, Vergos' nephew, said his uncle embraced downtown Memphis.

"He was a very loyal and giving person, so he embraced everything," Carayiannis said.  "His business was downtown, so he wanted to make sure that downtown progressed and thrived.  That downtown was a place people wanted to go."

Carayiannis said Vergos had a hand in Memphis institutions like the Orpheum, Memphis Cook Convention Center and the Memphis Zoo.

"He was instrumental in so many things that he never wanted credit for," Carayiannis said.  "He would make sure that the right people were in place and he was in the background."

Shelby County Mayor Joe Ford agreed.

"The business and tourism renaissance of downtown Memphis owes much of its success to Charlie Vergos," Ford said.  "His imprint on Shelby County will remain for generations to come."

Congressman Steve Cohen also expressed his condolences.

"Charlie Vergos was not only a civic leader, he was also an entrepreneur on a level with Kemmons Wilson, Fred Smith, or any of the other great innovators," Cohen said.  "He was also a great civic leader on the same with Kemmons Wilson or Fred Smith."

Tennessee Senator Mark Norris said Vergos will be missed.  Norris said he was a Memphis institution, a neighbor and a friend.

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