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By Collin Breaux | Twitter: @collin_breaux

Members of the San Juan Capistrano business community celebrated persevering through the COVID-19 pandemic during a banquet hosted by the San Juan Capistrano Chamber of Commerce at Inn at the Mission San Juan Capistrano on Thursday, Aug. 26.

The banquet is generally an annual event, but it did not happen in 2020 due to the ongoing pandemic. San Juan Capistrano Fiesta Association President Jim Taylor was named Citizen of the Year. Taylor has volunteered with food giveaways and other community events throughout the past year, and he also has been an advocate for suicide prevention.

“It wasn’t just me out there. It was a ton of us,” Taylor said. “So many businesses stepped up during the pandemic. Restaurants that were shuttered donated food so it wouldn’t spoil.”

Car dealers in San Juan were collectively named Businesses of the Year: Nissan of San Juan Capistrano, Capistrano Valley Toyota, Paradise Automotive Group, Coastline Chrysler Dodge Jeep RAM, Ocean Honda of San Juan Capistrano, Tuttle-Click’s Capistrano Ford, Capistrano Volkswagen, and Capistrano Mazda.

Mayor John Taylor noted the economic benefits that the local auto industry had for the town during the pandemic.

The banquet also serves as a passing of the torch for the Chamber’s Chairman of the Board. Doug Abramson was named the new chairman and replaces outgoing Chairman John Alpay.

“Even though we haven’t been front and center, we have been working behind the scenes to best represent the interests of the business community,” Alpay said.

Abramson said the Chamber has navigated two tough years, encouraged people to get involved with the Chamber, and complimented Inn at the Mission San Juan Capistrano—a boutique hotel that opened downtown last fall.

“Thanks to Inn at the Mission for providing this facility,” Abramson said. “I hope you all take notice how nice it is, because it is an awesome venue. Please consider it for future events.”

Other awards presented included the Cornerstone Award for Nonprofit of the Year to the J.F. Shea Therapeutic Riding Center; Coalition of California Chambers Orange County Emerging Leaders Award to Dirissy Doan, Katheryn Morrison, and Mary Visconte; and the CEO Award to Orange County Sheriff Don Barnes, the Orange County Sheriff’s Department in San Juan Capistrano, and Orange County Fire Authority.

Representatives from the City of San Juan Capistrano were also recognized for their efforts in economic development. Orange County Fifth District Supervisor said city staff and councilmembers “really kept the train running.”

Collin Breaux covers San Juan Capistrano and other South Orange County news as the City Editor for The Capistrano Dispatch. Before moving to California, he covered Hurricane Michael, politics and education in Panama City, Florida. He can be reached by email at

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