Summit Center closing after more than four decades

TUPELO, MISS. (WCBI) – An iconic conference center that has hosted well-known names such as former President Gerald Ford, Art Linkletter and Nancy Reagan, along with countless events for civic groups and various organizations will close its doors this week.

As hundreds are lined up in buffet lines Monday, Jimmy Pappas did whatever needed to be done to help things go as smooth as possible for the Tupelo Rotary Club’s Scholars Luncheon.

The Rotary Club weekly meeting was the first event for the Summit Center, when it opened in 1975 as part of the Ramada Inn Hotel, which Pappas had built three years earlier. The Rotary Club has met every week in the same space since then. And this lunch is one of the last events at the Summit Center.

Owner Jimmy Pappas said it’s time to slow down a little.

“I will stay busy but will not have the deadlines we have with this facility and I will work, as I feel like,” said Pappas.

Four years after building the conference center, Pappas doubled its size because demand was greater than anticipated.

Since then, the Summit Center has hosted weddings, concerts, conferences and many other events.

“This business is hard work, and we have some, fortunate to have, loyal employees who hang in there with us and get the job done, but regardless of how hard you work, at the end of the day, when you see hundreds of people satisfied and happy, all the pain goes away,” said Pappas.

With the closing of the Summit Center, civic groups have made other arrangements for their weekly meetings.

Pappas said although he is getting out of the conference center business, he is putting the Summit Center on the market.

“This building is well built, good bones and it will make a good venue for somebody,” said Pappas.

Those who have been coming to the Summit Center for years said they appreciate all Jimmy Pappas has done as a businessman and a community member.

“Mr Pappas has been a mainstay in the community, him offering this building for the community to host these events has been wonderful,” said Lindsey Leake.

“Mr Pappas always has that great smile on his face, he’s loving, welcoming, he will do anything he can if you’re about to run out of food he’s going to the grocery store and make sure everyone’s fed, he’s truly a community leader,” said businessman Robin Haire.

“They’ve had everything from charity ball where it was so packed you couldn’t get in and out the door, huge events all through the years, it has been the mainstay of business, social climate in Tupelo,” said businessman Scott Reed.

Pappas said the final event for his Summit Center is set for this Saturday.

Pappas recently started an olive oil business. He still owns a business office on the same property as the Summit Center.

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