Though the stereotypical image that most people may have of a Top 40 Under 40 recipient would be a buttoned up, all-business type, this year not one, but two of our honorees have a background in distilling spirits. That’s right — booze.
“I wouldn’t say I am a ‘Party Guy,’ but I enjoy having fun,” says Guy Zompa, who works as director of operations at Little Water Distillery in Atlantic City. “I never feel like being at Little Water Distillery is work. We are surrounded by customers who’ve become friends and visit weekly. It’s always a good time, and fun place to be. We work hard and we play hard, too.”
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Of course, it’s not all play time for Zompa. In fact, much of his time is spent giving back to the community from which he came.
“Atlantic City has always been home to me. My daughter is the fourth generation of my family (to be) baptized at St. Michael’s. My father’s parents were a huge part of Ducktown for over 90 years, so we’ve seen the city rolling high and low,” he says.
Zompa makes sure to honor A.C. through his charitable work with Little Water. “We have fundraising events, as well as bottling parties where we donate proceeds back to the different nonprofits throughout the city and surrounding area. Fifty cents from every bottle of vodka we sell goes directly to the Atlantic City Arts Foundation.”
Nick Kafkalas may work at a different distillery (Lazy Eye), but he shares a similar passion for giving back.
“I grew up in a household and church community that always emphasized helping the less fortunate,” he says.
Kafkalas continues the traditions that he was raised with to this day, as he and his family regularly donate to an orphanage in Greece. “It is called Protovoulia Gia To Padi, which translates to ‘Initiative for Children.’ They provide a home for children whose ages range from toddlers to high school students. For the last few years, my family has been providing each child with a new outfit for back to school, Christmas and Easter.”
Kafkalas’ brother Anthony Panetta was honored with a Top 40 award last year for his charitable work. It seems the passion runs in the family.
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“Lazy Eye is our family business. I grew up in a house where I thought things like fermenting grapes and stills were normal. We opened up Lazy Eye in 2014 which coincided with me graduating college at Stockton. I threw myself into the business. My role at Lazy Eye varies from day to day and from hour to hour. One second you are making spirits and the next minute you are giving tours or trying to acquire new accounts. It is ever changing, and I think that is why I like it so much. The first time I saw a bottle of Lazy Eye on the shelves at a liquor store is a moment I will never forget.”