South Shore CVA continues announcing 30 Faces of Tourism

2013-07-24T14:59:00Z South Shore CVA continues announcing 30 Faces of TourismNicki Mackowski | Director of Public Relations for the South Shore CVA

HAMMOND | The South Shore Convention and Visitors Authority has released the names of the newest group of the 30 Faces of Tourism.

This week’s group includes Crown Point Mayor David Uran; Karen Maravilla, owner of It’s Just Serendipity in Hammond and Raymundo Garcia, Jr., owner of El Taco Real in Hammond; Benito Gamba, owner of Gamba Ristorante, and his family; Rohit and Dipti Patel, local hoteliers; Tyler Carter, owner/operator of Chick-fil-A in Merrillville; and Bob Nickovich, CEO of Lake County Parks.

Since Mayor Uran took office in 2008 he has spent his time working to make Crown Point a destination in Northwest Indiana. He has dedicated the Mayor’s Office of Special Events to bring the visitors fun, quality events at minimal to no cost.

Mayor Uran has also worked with local elected officials and youth sports organizations for the vision of the Sportsplex, in which he secured millions of dollars from the White Foundation to build an elite youth sports complex for the children and families of Crown Point and the region.

Maravilla and Garcia, Jr. have worked in the hospitality industry all of their lives. Garcia, Jr. became the first employee of El Taco Real, owned by his parents, in 1974. In 1983, he went on to become the manager and operator of the restaurant. After working at El Taco Real for three years, Maravilla opened her dream store in 2009 – It’s Just Serendipity. Maravilla and Garcia, Jr., Hammond’s “power couple,” share the vision of making the city a destination in Northwest Indiana.

Gamba began his career in the restaurant business over 20 years ago. In 2006, he and his wife, Hilda, opened Gamba Ristorante. His daughters Michaelle, Krystle and Angela are all involved in marketing, managing and running the restaurant. Gamba Ristorante truly is a family business.

With a combined 42 years of experience in the hospitality and tourism industry, the Patels have worked as a team in owning multiple hotels along the South Shore as well as in other states. This dynamic team has divided responsibilities of operations, development and acquisitions. The Patels have found tremendous fulfillment in seeing their team of employees flourish in their lives.

Carter has been with Chick-fil-A for 12 years. After working with the company through college, he was given intern operator position in Fort Wayne. Having successfully performed his duties, Carter was given the opportunity to become the owner/operator of that location. He and his family jumped at the chance to become owner/operator of the Merrillville location, and have since been serving the northwest Indiana community through the mission of Chick-fil-A: To have a positive impact on all who come in contact with the restaurant.

Nickovich has been employed by the Lake County Parks and Recreation Board for over 40 years, having served as chief executive officer and secretary to the board of this highly acclaimed regional park system for the past 31 years. The Lake County park system has been a keystone in the leisure service industry by developing and promoting tourism throughout the county.

To celebrate their 30th anniversary, the South Shore CVA will be releasing information on the 30 Faces of Tourism. The 30 Faces of Tourism are individuals who have highly impacted the hospitality and tourism industry along the South Shore. For more information on these individuals, or to learn the stories of the other Faces of Tourism, visit

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