Co-founder of Village Inn reaches century mark

       Carmen Ceresa, part of the family team that made the Village Inn a Colorado Springs success story in the 1930s, celebrated her 100th birthday March 30 at the Brighton Gardens retirement facility. Seated before her 100th birthday cake, Carmen Ceresa
poses with cousins (from left) Tony Biondini, Mary Mayes and her son, Jerry.  
Westside Pioneer photo
       She was surrounded by a couple dozen family, friends, fellow residents and Brighton staffers, who enjoyed a cake with three candles (one on each of the numbers) and ice cream and sang her “happy birthday.” Several people also went up individually to congratulate her.
       Remembered for her businesslike approach to the restaurant trade, Ceresa (pronounced Sure-ee-sah) took her milestone party in stride. “I don't even know it,” she said, when asked how it felt. “It's kind of silly.”
       Some of her history was filled in by Med Banks, who had worked for the Village Inn during those early years, and Jerry Mayes, a cousin. John and and Vera Ceresa started the restaurant in 1936. Not long afterwards, John called his brother Pete and wife Carmen in Memphis; they agreed to move to the Springs and join the effort.
       The Ceresas ran the business until 1946; it went on to become a national restaurant chain.
       “There were a lot of people,” Carmen Ceresa recalled of those years. “It was work.” Asked what it was like working with her husband, she commented, “It was natural.”
       Banks said that Carmen was the bookkeeper and menu planner for the restaurant. She believed in tending to business with “no fooling around,” he said.
       After '46, Pete (now passed on) and Carmen Ceresa got into the real estate and land development business and continued in that for many years.
       Jerry Mayes' wife Aletha noted that Carmen was not keen on a 100th-birthday party, partly because “she doesn't like people to make a fuss” and also because “she doesn't want people knowing her age.”

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