USF Selects Cha Cha Cha Restaurant and Navarro’s Academy of Martial Arts to Receive 2016 Family Business Award

SAN FRANCISCO (May 10, 2016) – The University of San Francisco (USF) School of Management is proud to announce Cha Cha Cha Restaurant on Haight Street and Navarro’s Academy of Martial Arts are the recipients of the 2016 Gellert Family Business Award. The annual award recognizes extraordinary business achievement and community engagement, and is made possible by a generous gift from The Carl Gellert and Celia Berta Gellert Foundation. Cha Cha Cha and Navarro’s Academy of Martial Arts will be honored during a formal awards ceremony on Tuesday, May 24 from 5:15 - 7:30 p.m. in the Handlery Dining Room on USF's Lone Mountain (2800 Turk Blvd., San Francisco 94117). 

“We know that much of the economic growth that will happen in our country is going to come from small businesses,” said Liz Davis, dean of the USF School of Management. “Cha Cha Cha and Navarro’s Academy of Martial Arts are two socially responsible, thriving businesses that are examples of resilience and ingenuity in San Francisco.”

Opened in 1984 by good friends Phillip Bellber and Lyon Pack, Cha Cha Cha was just a small tapas restaurant inspired by Bellber’s Puerto Rican roots and Cuban influences. Almost immediately, the restaurant’s popularity soared causing Pack and Bellber decided to move Cha Cha Cha to a bigger space next door. Since then, Cha Cha Cha’s management has been firmly committed to giving back to the surrounding community through food donations in support of various San Francisco programs. 

Navarro Martial Arts Academy’s founder Carlos Navarro always had a passion for improving physical fitness, mental discipline, and spiritual strength. As a graduate of the University of San Francisco, he understood the importance of not only making money, but also having a positive impact on those around him. When Navarro Martial Arts Academy and Gym opened in 1965, Carlos was focused on giving neighborhood kids a safe place and positive outlet.

Since opening, Navarro’s Academy has maintained its involvement in the Mission neighborhood and is seen as a positive force by many of its families. Navarro’s Academy has continuously supported families, serving as a refuge for area youth and others. Further, the Academy has helped members of the immigrant community work in the United States, kept children off the streets through learning self-defense, and trained community residents to become martial arts and bodybuilding instructors.

“It’s a tremendous honor be recognized by USF,” said Navarro. “I appreciate this award that spotlights our efforts to be a community gathering place. This furthers our passion for improving physical, mental, spiritual wellness of our students.”

“Cha Cha Cha and Navarro’s Academy of Martial Arts show us how successful businesses serve as the cornerstones of communities,” said Monika Hudson, assistant professor in USF’s School of Management and director of the Gellert Family Business Center. “These founders are intelligent entrepreneurs who exemplify the business acumen, tenacity, and passion for their community we are proud to applaud.”

As Gellert award recipients, these businesses will receive technical and academic support from the Gellert Family Business Resource Center at USF. The specific assistance is tailored to the needs of each company. Recent support has included review of planning permit applications, expanding website presence, and developing marketing plans.

Under the direction of Monika Hudson, School of Management students meet with the family to learn about the issues they define as important to their businesses. With this information, the USF team then drafts a comprehensive business assessment and action strategy to tackle the issues.

Since 1994, the center takes a three-pronged approach to serving by:

  • Recognizing excellence.
  • Keeping family businesses informed.
  • Developing family business leadership. 

The Carl Gellert and Celia Berta Gellert Foundation’s mission is to promote educational, charitable, scientific, literary, or religious programs in the nine counties of the greater San Francisco Bay Area. The Gellert Foundation is the primary contributor to the USF Gellert Family Business Center.

Members of the media interested in covering the May 24 event, or to request interviews should contact Anne-Marie Devine Tasto, senior director of media relations, at 415.422.2697 or

About USF

The University of San Francisco is located in the heart of one of the world's most innovative and stunning cities and is home to a vibrant academic community of students and faculty who achieve excellence in their fields. Its diverse student body enjoys direct access to faculty, small classes, and outstanding opportunities in the city itself. USF is San Francisco's first university, and its Jesuit Catholic mission helps ignite a student's passion for social justice and a desire to “Change the World from Here.” For more information, please visit