Wallingford Buick GMC displayed some of its latest models behind the Sheraton Four Points Hotel, where its centennial celebration was held Thursday.

Wallingford Buick GMC celebrates 100 years

WALLINGFORD — Wallingford Buick GMC celebrated at Meriden’s Silver City Sports Bar and Grille in the Sheraton Four Points Hotel Thursday night in honor of its upcoming centennial anniversary.

The dealership, which was established on Feb. 12, 1914 by Edward Backes, has been in the same family for three generations.

Guests included employees’ friends and family members, as well as employees of local businesses to whom the event was advertised, according to Marketing Manager Jason Lebowitz.

Chef Jason Douglas manned the food tables, offering pulled pork sliders, along with mozzarella triangles, chicken fingers and potato skins.

Sliders were served with barbecue sauce or Douglas’ homemade concoction of cilantro, mango, pineapple, and jalapeño. “It’s a little bit spicy, and a little bit sweet,” he said.

Sales Manager Larry Esposito said the dealership wanted to incorporate a “virtual showroom” into the event by bringing along several of its latest models for guests to browse in the parking lot.

Walter and Brenda Knox, who were both guests and former customers, went outside to “take a peek at the new vehicles” in between servings of food. Brenda said she had never seen a car dealership organize an event of this type, and Walter agreed, calling it “very classy.”

Lebowitz said forming relationships with customers is an integral part of the dealership’s family-oriented business approach. The three-generation family business often sees third generation customers, whose grandparents and parents also purchased cars from the dealership, he said.

Esposito said the dealership is unusual in that it has operated for almost a century as a family business. Most businesses that have been open that long are corporations, he said.

Lebowitz said Thursday was the “kickoff event” to the dealership’s celebration of its 100th anniversary, one of a series of events which will be held monthly in Wallingford and Meriden until the centennial date and throughout next year.

Service and Parts Director Bryan Colangelo said future events will likely be decade-themed, and the giveaways that will occur at each event will be connected to the highlighted decade.

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