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KNOXVILLE — A program honoring longtime restaurateur William (Bill) F. Regas as a “Legend of the Industry” is being planned for the spring of 2011 by the Department of Retail, Hospitality and Tourism Management (RHTM) at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville.

Individuals and companies that would like to send their regards to Regas are invited to purchase sponsorships, including ads in a program that will be given out to attendees.

The event, which will include a wine-and-beer reception, passed appetizers, a silent auction and a four-course banquet with wine pairings, will be held on March 26, 2011, in the ballroom of the Crowne Plaza Hotel. Tickets are now available.

Ruby Tuesday already has signed on as a major or “presenting” sponsor for the event.

“We’d love to hear from people who want to honor Bill with a tribute. This might include people who have loved eating at Regas over the years, couples who got engaged at Regas, people with fond memories of celebrating prom night or other major life events at Regas,” said Carol Costello, RHTM professor and director of the UT Culinary Institute’s Wine and Beer Education Program. “Bill has done so much for our community; this is great opportunity for the community to say ‘thank you’ to him. To make it affordable for everyone, we’ve created a wide range of sponsorship packages.”

To learn more about sponsorship packages, which range in cost from $20 to $5,000, and about tickets, which range from $150 for a single ticket to $1,000 for a table of eight, contact Costello at or 865-974-6241 by Jan. 15, 2011.

The “Legends of the Industry” event will be entirely student-led, with hospitality students managing the program and designing the menu with the help of several distinguished local chefs. Retail students will manage the silent auction, and money generated from the event is used for student scholarships, industry trips and internship support. In addition, some of the proceeds will be donated to Regas’ charity of choice — breast cancer awareness.

During his 65-year restaurant career, Regas has been a mentor, icon and friend to the food service industry and the Knoxville community. Regas Restaurant is the longest-running restaurant in Tennessee. Bill Regas also has been instrumental in the early development of several other noted local restaurateurs, including Randy Burleson (Aubrey’s, Bistro by the Tracks, Sunspot), Mike Connors (Chop House, Connors), Rick Fredrico (P.F. Chang’s), Steve Puleo (Puleo’s) and Grady Regas (Grady’s Goodtimes).

C O N T A C T :

Amy Blakely (865-974-5034,