Hospitality veteran assumes leadership of Miami City Club
By Suzy Valentine
Twenty-one years after catering its opening event, Gene Singletary is back at Wachovia Tower as interim manager of the Miami City Club.
The hospitality veteran is in his third week managing the downtown club on the 55th floor of the Biscayne Boulevard building.
He takes over from Wendy Kallergis, who in two weeks becomes president and CEO of the Miami Beach Chamber of Commerce.
"It's kind of sad," said Mr. Singletary, "but I catered the opening for this building in 1984 when it was Southeast Bank. It was a sit-down meal for 800 people."
At that time, the then-Miami Club and the City Club with which it merged were separate entities elsewhere and the dining space was the bank's dining room.
Mr. Singletary has experience in the downtown business and dining sector. He managed the Brickell Club 10 years ago.
"I know a lot of the players," said Mr. Singletary, who explained he was about 2,000 miles away when the call to join Miami City Club came.
"I was fly-fishing in a stream in Colorado about a month ago," he said, "when [club President] Robin Reiter-Faragalli called and asked me to come on board."
Mr. Singletary runs Seasons restaurant at The Falls shopping center but had retired from catering. He sold his sports-catering business to New York City-based Great Performances. At next year's Nasdaq-100 Open tennis tournament on Key Biscayne, Mr. Singletary will act as a consultant.
"I was looking for a little something," he said. "Actually, I think my wife paid them to call me to get me out of the house."
The club's search committee hasn't yet met to consider a permanent replacement for Ms. Kallergis, though Mr. Singletary said he might be interested in the position.
"I came in because the club didn't have the time to do a search for a permanent replacement," he said. "As far as I know my tenure has no time limit. Club officials have asked me whether I'd be interested in the permanent position. I said, 'Take a look at me and I'll take a look at you.'"
Despite an extensive resume, Mr. Singletary describes the Miami City Club role as his first job.
"I've never worked for anybody but me," he said. "At the club, I report to the president and the board, but the general manager is free to run the club in an entrepreneurial spirit."
Meanwhile, one of the parties involved in the selection of the new Miami Beach chamber chief said Ms. Kallergis would be missed at Miami City Club.
"I've had a lot of people say, 'I can't believe you did that to us,'" said Annette Taddeo, chairwoman of the chamber's search committee and CEO of LanguageSpeak. "I've also had e-mails saying if the chamber does nothing else all year, the appointment will be its highlight."
Ms. Kallergis is already involved in chamber activities although she doesn't take up her new role for two weeks.
"She immediately started participating," Ms. Taddeo said. "She has been to a few employee meetings so that even though she's not here, she is. It has made for a smoother transition."