The Coastal Star

Coastal Star: Former chef is cooking up ways to boost Boca’s downtown

Peg Greenspon’s variety of experiences from stewardess
to chef to management to real estate is helpful in her service
to the Downtown Boca Advisory Committee. Tim Stepien/The Coastal Star

 

By Paula Detwiller

Peg Greenspon left her hometown of Canton, Ohio, to become a flight attendant — or stewardess, as they were called at the time — for United Airlines. She was 20 and it was the late ’60s, when women’s lib hadn’t yet reached the “friendly skies.”

“This was the era when you had to agree to resign when you hit 32 or got married,” she said. “They were so strict. Before each flight, we checked in at the hangar where they weighed us and inspected our uniforms. If you didn’t have your hat and gloves on, you were considered out of uniform and sent packing!”

It was the first of many career adventures for Greenspon, who left flying behind but remained in New York City. She became a chef, opened a gourmet food store in midtown Manhattan, and then expanded it into a 100-seat French restaurant.

Later, she joined the food service industry, overseeing employee food services for Memorial Sloan-Kettering Hospital, Chemical Bank and Prudential Securities.

Those experiences led to lucrative executive management positions in Manhattan, including vice president of operations for Restaurant Associates’ many properties at Rockefeller Center. Greenspon’s climb up the corporate ladder — and her experience selling real estate when she arrived in Florida in 1995 — serves her well as she helps the city of Boca Raton reinvent its downtown.

For two years, she’s been serving on Boca’s Downtown Advisory Committee, which provides input and recommendations to the City Council and Community Redevelopment Agency regarding the present and future development of downtown Boca Raton.

And she’s now chairing the committee tasked with developing a downtown Business Improvement District. “We’re putting together the framework for downtown business owners to become masters of their own destiny, to form this organization where they become the board members and they establish their goals and priorities for the downtown,” she said.

City planners are in the process of making downtown Boca Raton more pedestrian-oriented, with public promenades to funnel foot traffic past shops, restaurants and offices. New residential developments slated for downtown will include street-level retail and other businesses.

Greenspon, who lives in coastal Boca Raton, says the idea is to create a place where people live, work and play — without needing a car. “I think we’ll end up with more of a cosmopolitan downtown,” she said, “instead of these Vacant, For Rent signs.” Greenspon is on the board of trustees of the Boca Museum of Art and is president of the museum’s Collectors’ Forum.

She’s a member of Impact 100, an organization made up of professional women who contribute annually to support worthy causes. And she raises money for Palm Beach/Treasure Coast 2-1-1, a Lantana-based phone hotline providing crisis intervention, information and referral services to those in need.

She and husband Lee Greenspon, a semi-retired CEO of a Chicago plumbing supply company, are patrons of the Florence Fuller Child Development Centers, Florida Atlantic University (the medical school and stadium in particular), Boca Raton Regional Hospital, Lynn University Conservatory of Music, the Palm Beach Opera and the Kravis Center.

A resident of Mizner Grand condominiums since 2005, Greenspon, who’s in her early 60s, said she’s “just getting started.” “I really feel that at this point in my life, I’ve got time for things that really interest me. Being part of this community, downtown Boca Raton, is very near and dear to my heart. And at the end of the day, isn’t that what it’s about? If you’re living in a community, don’t you want to be part of it?” 

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Tags: Downtown Boca Advisory Committee, Peg Greenspon, boca raton, coastal star

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