Osama Yousef, owner of Court Street Grille and previous chair of Lincolnton’s Downtown Development Association, was among those recognized by the North Carolina Department of Commerce for their efforts last year with the N.C. Main Street and Small Town Main Street programs.
The awards were handed out to participants — recognized for excellence in downtown revitalization efforts in categories that include promotion, organization, design and economic restructuring — Thursday evening in Salisbury.
“Main Streets are making a positive impact in their communities all across the state,” said Commerce Secretary Sharon Decker in a statement. “Downtown revitalization efforts are contributing to the state’s overall economic recovery, and we applaud these community leaders for their hard work.”
Yousef, busy running two restaurants now that the Mountain View location of Court Street Grille has been open for about a month, told the Times-News Friday that he was unable to attend the ceremony.
Nonetheless, he said the recognition as a 2012 “N.C. Main Street Champion” was certainly appreciated.
“I’m definitely honored to have the award,” he said.
Yousef has been involved with the DDA for about five or six years, he said, having served as its chair last year. When he first joined, his intent was to learn more about what the organization does. Since then, he’s become truly passionate about its goals to create buzz for, and bring traffic to, downtown Lincolnton, and he wants others to better understand the DDA’s work.
While it can help bring visitors to downtown, it’s the responsibility of the business owners to entice them inside their doors, he added. As one of the most popular eateries in town, Court Street Grille, under Yousef’s helm, doesn’t have any trouble with that.
Yousef credits the exposure that many of the DDA-organized events bring to Lincolnton, and keeping his restaurant open during such events, as a big boost to business.
“I’m very proud to be a part of it,” he said.
Main Street Champions are designated by their local N.C. Main Street programs for the contributions they have made to the downtown revitalization process in their communities.
Thirty-one individuals were honored for their contributions in 2012. This year’s group of Main Street Champions brings the total number to 500 since they were first named in 1980 as part of N.C. Main Street’s 20th anniversary celebration, according to a Commerce Department press release.
“Main Street Champions are those individuals that lead by example,” said Liz Parham, director of the Office of Urban Development at the Department of Commerce. “Whether they renovate a building, open a business, volunteer their services or rally the troops, they step out in front and encourage others to follow. They are recognized for their dedication to their community that furthers the efforts of downtown revitalization.”