By RICK HAYES firstname.lastname@example.org
---- — MT. VERNON — Following a five-year stint as the executive director of the Jefferson County Chamber of Commerce, Brandon Bullard announced at Thursday's noon luncheon he is leaving the position.
Bullard informed the Chamber's Executive Board of his decision Thursday morning, and then announced it at the public meeting.
Bullard's resignation becomes effective on June 1, although he plans to help Chamber officials during the transition period. Bullard's position has been posted on line.
"I will be hired on as the manager of the Rare Restaurant on South 10th Street," Bullard said in announcing his future plans. "Steven Beal (restaurant owner) has redesigned the place, and we will have a nice steak house and restaurant."
Bullard continued, "Personally, it's a fantastic move for me and my family. Professionally, I get to work for a restaurant for a businessman that I admire and use my talents and abilities I've used and honed over the years. I look forward to the challenge."
The restaurant is expected to open in late June or early July.
"It will have prime beef, fresh seafood and the best wine selection around," Bullard said. "Our goal is that no other restaurant in Southern Illinois will be able to compete."
Bullard has no direct experience in the restaurant business although he noted his father was a restaurant-bar operator. "I've been around it all my life, but the second part of that is that I was a bus boy at Green Hills Golf Club when I was 14 so it has come full circle."
During the transition period, Bullard said he will act as an advisor and consultant for the Chamber.
"As I told the lunch crowd, it's not goodbye, it's I'll see you later," Bullard said. "I want to remain a part of Chamber activities and want to make the transition as smoothly as possible."
Bullard said he feels he has left the Chamber in a good position.
"We've had phenomenal growth over the last five years. We averaged between 40 to 45 new members a year, so you're talking about 200 to 250 new members during that time. The Chamber is in a more different and positive light than it was five years ago. The Chamber now has the ability to make a difference, and I'm proud of that fact. Once we got to that point, it's been a really great ride," he said.
Before taking the Chamber's top post Bullard was the executive director of the Southern Illinois Golf Association.