For Nearly Three Decades, Legendary Lodge's 'Ray' of Sunshine

Reinaldo Guillen

It is with great pride that the management team at The Grand Summit Hotel speaks about their long-time employees -- the kind of employees vital to a business’ success, who serve as the fabric and face of the Hotel.

The Grand Summit Hotel is open 365 days a year, 24 hours a day, and staff is at the center of everything they do. “We are like the US Post Office,” says Assistant General Manager Michael Marino. “Regardless of the weather or day of the year, we have guests in house who need the service that we pride ourselves on delivering.”

A snowstorm like the one the area received in early March is a great example of how important employees are to a vibrant business. “When they call a state of emergency, for most people this means a day at home with their families,” adds Marino. “For a business like ours, it means somehow getting to the Hotel to serve the guests whose needs will run the gamut from getting to their place of business, visiting a loved one at Overlook Medical Center, or transporting a nurse or doctor to the hospital to care for patients. You’ve never really seen the kind of commitment people have until you have seen a nurse leave behind her family in inclement weather to get to the hospital to care for others. It is amazing.”

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This level of commitment to serving guests gives us no better example than Reinaldo Guillen who has commandeered the floors of the hotel’s restaurant for 28 years.

Reinaldo arrived in the United State in 1989 from his native Ecuador. Growing up in South America’s west coast, Reinaldo developed a love of all things futbol, a love that is stronger than ever for him here in 'the States'.

Reinaldo spent a short time working as a plumber’s assistant shortly after arrival and decided it was not for him. He found his way to the historic Hotel and its popular Hunt Club Restaurant. At the time, the restaurant was among four in the area, the same area that boasts over 40 such establishments in 2017. He would start as a bus boy in the restaurant and work his way into a waiter position as he displayed his talents for serving guests and extending a high level of hospitality to the restaurant’s very discerning guests

Along with longtime employees Gillian Talbot and Laura Peterson, Reinaldo is a fixture at the hotel’s delicious daily breakfast from 6:30 - 10 a.m. in the Hotel’s HAT Tavern. “Our repeat customers love the fact that people like Ray will be here when they are back in town,” says HAT Tavern General Manager Walter Curtis. “A constant for us is to know that someone who cares about our business as much as Reinaldo does will be here on a daily basis. We could not be more appreciative of his service to our business.”

Reinaldo resides in Irvington with Olga, his wife of eight years. They have a 6-year-old son, and Reinaldo also has two older sons, ages 29 and 23. All three share in his love of soccer. Barcelona is the club that Reinaldo supports, and Antonio Valencia from the Ecuadorian National team as his favorite player. Reinaldo is also a collector of watches and counts Mexico, Argentina, and his home of Ecuador among places he has visited with his strong interest in travel.

When asked if Reinaldo prefers the Hunt Club or today’s HAT Tavern, he is quick to say he likes the HAT. He counts "Mr. T" as his favorite guest of all time. As the old saying goes in the restaurant business; “If tables could talk!” Ray’s stories could fill a book.

With 149 guest accommodations and over 10,000 square feet of recently-renovated event space, The Grand Summit Hotel -- the shining star in the town of Summit -- remains one of the area’s most prestigious addresses for social and corporate events.

The hotel’s culinary reputation is unmatched in the area and has been extended to the wildly popular HAT Tavern in the hotel’s lower level. The management team built on this success recently with the grand opening of the Arts and Crafts Lobby Bar serving private label coffee and espresso, Ironbound Nitro Brewed Iced Coffee, a selection of hard to find craft beers, and wine.

The Grand Summit Hotel is located at 570 Springfield Avenue in Summit, New Jersey 07901. For more information call the hotel at 908-273-3000 or visit our website at   

The opinions expressed herein are the writer's alone, and do not reflect the opinions of or anyone who works for is not responsible for the accuracy of any of the information supplied by the writer.

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