Volpe’s RAM support earns Rotary honor

Tom KingFarragut

John Volpe is the general manager of Abuelo’s Mexican Restaurant at Turkey Creek. Last week the Rotary Club of Farragut presented him with its Business Person of the Quarter Award. It is an honor well earned.

The award is reserved for those in business who support our community, who conducts business and life in concert with the values of Rotary and is a non-Rotarian. The club honored Volpe for his longtime support of Remote Area Medical (RAM), founded by the late Stan Brock. A major part of Volpe’s support for RAM is the Southern Tequila & Taco Festival. The festival was Volpe’s idea. John is well known as the event organizer of the fun and popular festival.

To date the festival has raised more than $100,000 for the internationally known RAM organization, which betters the lives of people in our community and in hundreds of other communities.

The 2019 festival is the fifth annual and is just around the corner on Friday, April 26, from 6 to 9 p.m. Once again, the money raised will benefit RAM. Jeff Eastman, RAM’s chief executive officer, was at the meeting when Volpe was honored. “John has been a longtime supporter of RAM, and we love working with him,” he said. “What he has done and continues to do is so very important and great! It’s very special.”

The festival will be held across from Cotton Eyed Joe at 11221 Outlet Drive. You must be 21 to attend, and IDs will be checked at the gate. No pets allowed.

Volpe has been the GM at Abuelo’s for almost 14 years now. He has been in the restaurant business for 40 years and has been an owner, general manager and chef of eateries in Ohio, Texas and Tennessee.

The Southern Tequila & Taco Festival began in April 2014, and it features numerous taco vendors, over 60 tequilas, live music and more fun.

“We will continue growing to be the largest annual tequila and taco festival in the country!” Volpe says. “We have some of the biggest names in tequila showcasing their signature products and the best food in East Tennessee. You can enjoy and taste handcrafted tequilas, margaritas, cocktails and beer, listen to some great music and eat some tacos. We’ll also have craft beers.”

When we checked the latest on the RAM website, we noticed there will be the 1st annual Stan Brock Memorial Golf Tournament to be played on Thursday, Sept. 12, at Avalon Golf Course in Loudon County. The tournament was Volpe’s idea as well.

What led Volpe to be a major backer of RAM?

“Well, when I was a kid I watched Stan Brock on ‘Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom’ and to meet him here and see what all he’s done, I had to get involved,” he says.

“Chris Hall is the chief operations officer for RAM, and we’ve been friends for 12 years,” Volpe explained. “We did some dinners for them here at the restaurant, and the more I learned about what all RAM did and how they do it, I wanted to find a way to help, and doing the festival seemed like a good idea.”

The first festival in 2014 drew 300 people, give or take. In 2016 attendance hit 1,300, and this year they’re expecting between 2,200 and 2,500. He says that this year they are adding new vendors, the John Stone Band from Nashville and lots of spirits to go with the world-class tacos they serve.

If you need more information on the festival just click on this link. You will find admission prices, times, information about the food and what’s available if you do not drink alcohol.

If you’re interested in exploring membership in Farragut Rotary, drop me an email or call 865-659-3562. We meet at 12:15 p.m. each Wednesday at Fox Den Country Club.

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