During their 26 year relationship, Lawrence French and Gregory Sargowicki have seen social attitudes towards equal rights - for all - change for the better. In 2011, they are happy to say that their partnership is going strong and in perfect harmony.
A well-known, loved - and dynamic duo in town, Lawrence and Gregory found each other in North Dakota after coming from many diverse places. The lovable guys with the high-voltage personalities will just win your hearts with their enthusiasm, intelligence - and openness to your creative ideas.
Entertaining and cooking has been a passion for Lawrence since he was a young boy. At 16 he was already catering an authentic Swedish Smorgasbord for 30 guests. Lawrence realized he also loved meeting and talking with people so he decided to go into the food and entertaining business and earned a degree in Hospitality Management. In 1995, he started Lifestyles Catering. Lawrence says: “I enjoy catering because unlike a restaurant where you seat the same dining room night after night, catering is always different; different menu, different location, different celebration - every time we go out of our shop. I love providing personalized, professional service and meeting or exceeding our clients’ expectations! "
Gregory Sargowicki was born and raised in Warsaw, Poland and also lived in Vienna, Austria before he moved to Fargo, North Dakota – and eventually Denver. Gregory was a Political Refugee when he left and immigrated to the United States in 1981. With all the changes since 1981, Poland is now known for its culture of open and generous hospitality says Sargowicki. Gregory brings this tradition and his love of entertaining to Lifestyles Catering and Willow Ridge Manor and says: “In Poland they have a saying, “Gość w dom, Bóg w dom” - Which translates to: "When a guest is in the home, God is in the home!" Gregory brings warmth and compassion to everything he does. He also brings his unique marketing, managing and sales abilities to his team at Willow Ridge Manor and Lifestyles Catering.
Lawrence and Gregory are living a fun and purposeful life attending and chairing many nonprofit events and always giving of themselves to needy causes. French and Sargowicki are co-chairing this year’s “Salt on the Rim” for the Kempe Children’s Foundation on August 20th.
They both believe strongly in being thankful for everything you have and enjoying life to its fullest. One thing came through loud and clear after being around Lawrence French & Gregory Sargowicki: They seem to have found the key to love, success and happiness… Isn’t that what most people are looking for?
What does living your best life mean to you? Gregory: Achieving a balance between work and time off from work. In my case it is not always easy to accomplish, I wish I was better at managing my time. It seems to me that I am constantly thinking about work, 24/7.
Lawrence: To be the best person I can be, as a partner, a boss and a friend. To stay healthy and sane.
As far as charitable causes, what are you most passionate about – and why? Both: We want to make a difference and leave a legacy for future generations. We can do this best by our involvement with the causes that we have chosen to support : Human Rights Campaign, One Colorado, The Gay and Lesbian Center, Colorado AIDS Project and Project Angle Heart. We are involved with the challenges faced by people in the Gay, Lesbian and Trans-Gendered community such as Marriage Equality, Safe Schools and Equal Rights. We also look to the future supporting the children and the developmentally challenged of the community, with our work with such organizations as: Excelsior Youth Center, ARC and the Kempe Foundation. Finally because the arts are so necessary for a well rounded community, we support (and enjoy) The Denver Center for the Performing Arts, Opera Colorado, The Central City Opera and The Colorado Symphony Orchestra.
How do we get more people involved in charitable giving and volunteering? Both: We feel that developing a habit of philanthropy should start at a young age. By getting the youth of the community involved as an early age, the next generation of charitable participants are being formed. For the older set, giving them the excuse to get out and support a worthy cause, have a good time doing it - and possibly pick up a memento or treasure in the package - will help make the experience more pleasurable and something they will want to participate in further.
Tell us about “Salt on the Rim” for the Kempe Children’s Foundation? I know you are both co-chairing the event this year. Both: “Salt on the Rim” is the best party of the summer featuring fine food and beverages from some of the best restaurants in Denver and entertainment this year by one of the premiere local music groups, “Soul School.” And it is for such a good cause, supporting the work of the Kempe Foundation whose mission is to prevent and treat child abuse and neglect.
What constitutes a perfect event in both your eyes? Both: Whether it is a house party, a wedding, a group of friends getting together or a charitable event, the perfect event comes together with a creative vision, careful planning and skillful excitation. In the eyes of the guests, it should seem effortless while being memorable. This is usually achieved by assembling a talented team, either of volunteers or professionals, coordinated by a leader with a clear vision of the goals and the path to get to these goals.
When you were a little boy, what did you say you wanted to be when you grew up? Gregory: I have always loved animals, so when I was young, I thought that I would have a job working with wild-life. I remember the time that I could take a book and go to the Warsaw Zoo to study while being surrounded with wild animals. Lawrence: When I was young I enjoyed cooking and entertaining, so I thought that I would be a chef.
What do you consider your proudest achievement? Gregory: After emigrating from Poland with a suitcase full of books and the dream of a better life in the United States, I now have two successful companies, two dogs, a partner and a home in the mountains. These achievements are what give me the opportunity to give back to my community.
Which one word(s) describes you best? Lawrence: Tenacious Gregory: Caring, trusting, kind, strong and sensitive.
What is the best advice anyone ever gave you? Both: Learn how to be an effective listener.
What do you love most about living in Colorado? Gregory: When I first saw Colorado in 1985 I felt a shiver up my back. I still get this shiver whenever I see the spectacular beauty of the wonderful Colorado surroundings. I love being woken up in the summer by the buzz of the humming birds at dawn, hearing the bugling of the Bull elks in the autumn, then the absolute stillness and quite of a freshly fallen snow during the winter and the cycle starting all over again by watching kit foxes playing in front of the house in the spring. Lawrence and I have a home in Conifer, on the top of a mountain with views that stretch from Pikes Peak to Mt. Evens, where we can watch the sunrise over the Front Range, lightning storms over the plains or look down into cloud -filled valleys. How could I not love Colorado? In Denver we can enjoy the arts with the symphony, the opera or world class performances at the theater. Lawrence: I want to second Gregory's observations, but I have to add the many opportunities for outdoor activities such as skiing, biking and hiking. And after leaving Colorado as a child, and then returning to the state as an adult, I marvel at the growth and development that I have seen here over my lifetime.
What’s your favorite kind of music to listen to during dinner? Both: Our favorite music to relax with is classical.
How would you describe the last 10 years of your lives? Both: "It was the best of times, it was the worst of times…" Charles Dickens: “A Tale of Two Cities”
What is something you would still like to learn to do – like play an instrument, learn a certain language – skydive? Gregory: Learn to play the violin. (But he currently plays a mean stereo!) Lawrence: Would like to learn Spanish. (He tried to use an on line language program a few years ago while recuperating from a broken leg, but realized that trying to learn a language while on pain pills was quite futile.)
Describe your dream get-away, and when do you plan on taking it? Both: A safari to sub-Saharan Africa, before we are both in wheel chairs.
What’s in store for the future? Any big expansion plans with your businesses, etc? Both: We are always looking to expand, growing the business of Lifestyles Catering with a possible move to a bigger facility while staying in Lakewood or on the west side, we have also purchased the property adjacent to Willow Ridge Manor, in Morrison, to protect the natural setting unique to this venue and controlling future development. We also want to continue our work in the philanthropic community, sharing our time and talents to further the causes that are most meaningful to us.
How do you want to be remembered? Both: We want to be remembered as a couple who made a contribution to the life and future of the Denver community.