2023 GNFCC Small Business of the Year Award: Maria Fundora and Pepe Fundora, with Casa Nuova and Cork & Glass (GNFCC 400 Insider, Episode 88)
Created to honor business leaders who exhibit expertise and a commitment to economic prosperity, quality of life and a positive reputation of the region, GNFCC celebrates the 2023 Small Business Award Winner, the family business owners Maria Fundora of Casa Nuova and Pepe Fundora from Cork & Glass. Maria and Pepe talked with host Kali Boatright about their family history, what sets them apart and their special term for that, “hospitalian,” the success of the restaurant, their roots in the community, and much more.
Casa Nuova is a family-owned gourmet Italian restaurant, owned by Maria Fundora and her son, Jose “Pepe” Fundora.
Casa Nuova is a true farm-to-table restaurant and is Trip Advisor’s 2021 Traveler’s Choice in Alpharetta.
Maria Fundora, Owner and General Manager, Casa Nuova Italian Restaurant and Founder, Purple Pansies
Maria Fundora is the General Manager at her family-owned and operated restaurant, Casa Nuova, in Alpharetta, GA.
Purple Pansies was founded by Maria after the loss of her loving mother, Iluminada Milian, to pancreatic cancer in 2007.
The pancreas is not the only organ that can be affected by pancreatic cancer. The liver, spleen, stomach, gallbladder, and large intestine can all be affected as well.
Key facts to know about pancreatic cancer include:
- An estimated 60,430 adults (31,950 men and 28,480 men) in the US will be diagnosed with pancreatic cancer
- Pancreatic cancer accounts for 3% of all cancers and 7% of all cancer deaths
- It is the 3rd leading cause of cancer death in both men and women in the US
- Since 2000, the death rate has slowly increased each year
- The 5-year survival rate tells you what percent of people live at least 5 years after the cancer is found. Percent means how many out of 100. The general 5-year survival rate for people with pancreatic cancer is 10%.
Purple Pansies is a way to honor her mother, spread her lesson of compassion, and carry on in her footsteps by helping others afflicted by the disease that took her away.
Its mission is to raise awareness of pancreatic cancer. Early detection is critical to improving survival rates. Research facilities need funding to continue clinical trials.
Pancreatic cancer has the highest mortality rate of all cancers but receives only 6% of research funding. We are dedicated to raising money for much-needed cancer research.
Purple Pansies has raised over $3 Million dollars to fund research, as well as, to aid families in our community.
Their next fundraising event, Pillars of Hope, is on September 10, 2023 at Astro Celebrations.
Cork & Glass
Take a comfy seat and enjoy a specially curated wine tasting. Experience a wide array of tastes and maybe find your next favorite!
Their wine dinners embody our promise of “Making Wine Accessible”… and not just any wine, but GREAT wine.
C&G’s wine education experiences will help you grow your understanding and appreciation of the nuances of wines from around the world.
Food pairing challenge? Put their team to the test and let them help you find the perfect bottle for your next dinner event.
Pepe Fundora, Co-owner Casa Nuova Italian Restaurant and Owner, Cork and Glass
Jose “Pepe” Fundora is the owner of the wine shop Cork and Glass and co-owner of Casa Nuova Italian Restaurant located in Alpharetta, GA, in the northern suburbs of Atlanta.
Pepe is a social Electrical Engineer turned Sommelier. Pepe earned his B.S. in Electrical Engineering at Georgia Tech in 2010 and spent some time in the corporate world before ultimately deciding to return to his roots, his family’s local Italian restaurant.
From a young age, Pepe worked and became fully immersed in the hospitality industry, from dishwashing to serving tables and learning the tricks of the trade from his parents, Maria and Antonio Fundora, longtime restaurateurs in the Atlanta area. Pepe became a co-owner of the family restaurant in 2015.
Pepe always had a deep interest in wine though he affirmed his passion after meeting with reputable winemakers on a business trip taken to California wine country in 2013. Later on, Pepe had aspirations to open his very own wine shop, Cork & Glass, with the idea of “Making Wine Accessible”. His concept includes highlighting various regions to showcase current trends in the wine world, teaching how to pair different flavors together and offering sales on select exclusive wines. His goal is to offer high-quality wines at great, everyday values. Cork & Glass officially opened for business in July 2020!
Pepe is very engaged in the wine world both in the Atlanta area and across the US. Pepe has led over 40 virtual wine dinners with esteemed winemakers from California, Italy, Argentina, and Australia. He was nominated amongst restaurateurs across the country to participate in the prestigious Oregon Pinot Camp in Willamette Valley in 2016. He has volunteered for the High Museum Atlanta Wine Auction for several years and the Auction Napa Valley.
Pepe is a Certified Level 2 Sommelier. He is studying to become an Advanced Sommelier (Level 3) and eventually will finish at Master Sommelier (Level 4) in the future.
About GNFCC and The GNFCC 400 Insider
The GNFCC 400 Insider is presented by the Greater North Fulton Chamber of Commerce (GNFCC) and is hosted by Kali Boatright, President and CEO of GNFCC. The Greater North Fulton Chamber of Commerce is a private, non-profit, member-driven organization comprised of over 1400 business enterprises, civic organizations, educational institutions, and individuals. Their service area includes Alpharetta, Johns Creek, Milton, Mountain Park, Roswell and Sandy Springs. GNFCC is the leading voice on economic development, business growth and quality of life issues in North Fulton County.
The GNFCC promotes the interests of our members by assuming a leadership role in making North Fulton an excellent place to work, live, play and stay. They provide one voice for all local businesses to influence decision-makers, recommend legislation, and protect the valuable resources that make North Fulton a popular place to live.
For more information on GNFCC and its North Fulton County service area, follow this link or call (770) 993-8806. For more information on other GNFCC events such as this North Fulton Mayors Appreciation Lunch, follow this link.