Kenneth and Ody Lugo Couple reaps rewards from hard work, giving back

Kenneth and Ody Lugo Couple reaps rewards from hard work, giving backThis week has not one, but two Gables Greats, Kenneth and Ody Lugo.

Kenny graduated from Florida Christian and Miami Dade Community College while Ody graduated from St. Brendan and Nova University.

Ody was a schoolteacher with a master’s degree in Early Childhood Education who developed a talent for cake decorating. After a while, she found her part time cake business with her husband brought in more money than her job and the idea for opening a store developed. Kenny credits Ody with the idea of a salad restaurant.

Ody figured the cake business, which they had worked for 11-12 years, would not give them time in the future to enjoy life’s rewards, which proved to be a wise decision.The day they got a lease for their first store for Giardino Gourmet Salads in Coral Gables, Kenny got a call, as if by divine intervention, and was hired as a firefighter. This helped them survive financially the first year.

With little money for marketing, they used what they had to support various charitable events, which also served to achieve their faith-based mission. That plus hard work and word of mouth certainly was a godsend and has reaped great rewards.With several franchises now, Kenny shares how he and Ody had no clue how to start a business and learned on the fly.

He admits he read Franchising for Dummies, a book I suspect Kenny could now write and improve upon. He said it really turned out to be common sense. You serve a great fresh product, with amazing customer service, consistently and you get a great thing going.The couple’s passion for giving back and mentoring others is something that permeates their business philosophy. Coming from humble beginnings, they serve as amazing role models for others who were not handed a silver spoon but who are not afraid of hard work and taking on a challenge to improve their circumstances and achieve their dreams.

Giving back is something that they were exposed to early on in high school through a variety of clubs, so it is no wonder they continue to donate their time, talent and treasure as adults helping and becoming involved in such organizations as Honey Shine, Amigos for Kids, Kiwanis of Little Havana, Coral Gables Chamber of Commerce, Zo’s Summer Groove, UM Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center, Kids Hope United, Easter Seals, Women’s Fund, Arroz Con Mango-La Liga Contra el Cancer, His House, Susan J Komen Cancer Foundation, and Caring Chef for Kids.Kenny and Ody’s generous spirit is one that their daughter Rebekah, 8, has inherited big time. At this tender age, already she has begun creating a non-profit “Living for Giving” and, while not yet incorporated, has like her parents begun helping others.

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About the Author

Gloria Burns
A graduate of the University of Florida with a major in Spanish, Burns has an extensive background in advertising, marketing and reciprocal trade, travel as well as non profit consulting and management. Burns' volunteer activities led her to become a columnist writing Gloria’s Gab, a column that focuses on the non-profit activity. Burns was Executive Director of the Jr. Orange Bowl Committee for 6 years and then served as the first Executive Director of Coral Gables Community Foundation for 14 years after which she helped the emerging Community Foundation of Pinecrest. Active in many non profits, she received the 2015-16 President's Best Member Award from the GFWC Coral Gables Woman's Club, 2012-13 CGWC Leadership Award, 2012-2013 Rotarian of the Year Award as RCCG Public Relations Chair and Fund raising Co-Chair, 2011 Florida Federation of Women’s Club Volunteer of the Year for the District 11 and honored by the City of Doral as one of their first recipients for the Doralian Women's Award. Among her list of current responsibilities, Burns co-chairs two annual student recognition breakfasts for the Coral Gables Friends of Education; helps coordinate charity partners for the Westin Colonnade's Annual Give Kids the World Breakfast; serves on the board of directors of Doral Business Council; is Parliamentarian and serves on the board of the GFWC Coral Gables Woman’s Club; serves the board of the Rotary Club of Coral Gables and is Publicity Chair; and is a member of the Jr. Orange Bowl Committee. Gloria is also an active member of the Music Ministry at Our Lady of Guadalupe Catholic Church where sings sings in the choir. She can be reached at

3 Comments on "Kenneth and Ody Lugo Couple reaps rewards from hard work, giving back"

  1. Congratulations Ken and Ody – well deserved recognition! Thank you for all of your support for A Safe Haven for Newborns as well! We appreciate YOU both and wish you tons of success!

  2. Cathy Hankamer | August 15, 2016 at 8:11 pm | Reply

    What a fantastic couple. Not only their hard work, but all the organizations they donate their time & money to. Great article!!

  3. Cristina Davis | August 18, 2016 at 10:04 am | Reply

    So happy for all of all of you! It’s great to achieve such success. Such a fabulous group effort! Love Giardino!!

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