The longtime owner of the Kon Tiki Inn — a landmark in downtown Pismo Beach — and former volunteer firefighter was named the Pismo Beach Citizen of the Year.
Henry Myers was presented with the award at the Pismo Beach Chamber of Commerce’s annual dinner last Thursday.
“That was a shock,” Myers said Friday, though he said he suspected he might receive recognition for renovations and upgrades to his Pismo Beach Athletic Club, located next to the inn on Price Street. But he did not expect to be named Citizen of the Year.
“One of the important guiding principles in my life is, we are our brother’s keeper, and I said I felt that every business person has an obligation to give back to the community that makes their success possible,” Myers recalled Friday.
“I said that when I came to Pismo Beach in 1961, I had no idea where I might be in 2015,” he added, “but Pismo Beach was a wonderful place with wonderful people, and I just never had any reason to want to go elsewhere.”
Myers came to the Central Coast from Idaho when his parents became silent partners in construction of the SeaCrest Oceanfront Hotel. His family sold that hotel in 1969 and, two years later, acquired the property where the Kon Tiki now sits.
At the time, Myers said in an interview last year, much of the east side of the freeway was a large cow pasture, and the land where the Kon Tiki was built was farmed with sugar peas. The 40-room hotel opened in 1974 and expanded to 86 rooms in 1985.
“It’s classy looking to this day,” Kevin Drabinski, senior field representative for state Assemblyman Katcho Achadjian, said at the awards dinner. “They don’t build them like that so much anymore.
“But the good people of all the communities in the Central Valley (and folks from all around the world really), have their choices about where to stay, and they would not come back to stay at the Kon Tiki Inn, nice as it is, were it not for your incredibly capable staff and their culture of hospitality and service which continues to draw families generation after generation,” Drabinski added. “That reputation gets tested every day, passes every test, and is further testament to your exceptional business leadership.”
Myers owns 12.2 acres, including the athletic club, Steamers of Pismo, and the former Bank of America building, which is currently vacant.
Myers also served the community for 16 years with the Pismo Beach Fire Department (the city now contracts with Cal Fire for fire services). Myers started in 1968 as a firefighter and then served 12 years as one of two assistant chiefs.
He’s also a longtime supporter of the Land Conservancy of San Luis Obispo County. His hotel put up $20,000 in matching funds for the Pismo Preserve project, and Myers led tours of the property. The Pismo Preserve is expected to be opened to the public later this year.
The Pismo Beach chamber presented several other awards. Pismo Coast Village RV Resort was named Business of the Year; Jay Jamison, chief executive officer/general manager, accepted the award.
Ross and Joanne Currie of Splash Café were named Volunteers of the Year; Peter Ward of Pismo Coast Village received the Ambassador of the Year award; and Terence Concannon was named Director of the Year.
Gary Grossman, president of Coastal Community Builders, received the President’s Award. The Grand Clam Award went to the Pismo Beach Public Works Department for its efforts to beautify the giant clam at one of the city’s gateways; Public Works Director Ben Fine accepted that award.