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A Decade of Friendliness in New Port Richey

John Gilliss has been a prominent figure in the community for many years.

Published

May 13, 2022

Last updated

June 1, 2022

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John Gilliss loves the story of the underdog.

For the past 25 years, he has made a name with the Kia brand, which some other dealers approached with trepidation. Now, that dealership has grown to sell 5,000 cars a year while still maintaining their focus on customer service that lives up to the name: “Friendly Kia.”

While John only recently moved to downtown New Port Richey in 2016, he has been a partner in the community’s growth and wellness for over a decade. Another underdog, New Port Richey, has been revitalized by locals like John investing time and support to bring the area back to its former glory. 

His strong connection to the area comes in part from nostalgia. John remembers his hometown of Berlin, Maryland, as a place outside of the glamorous Ocean City that people only went to on rainy days. Hosting a historic downtown covered in aluminum siding, it underwent a transformation and was recently named “Coolest Town in America.” John draws parallels to the hidden quaint charm of downtown New Port Richey and is thrilled to be part of its transformation.   

Always community focused.

Through the years, John and Friendly Kia have shown their commitment to developing a vibrant downtown through hosting community events, charity fundraisers, and donations. The KiaFest Main Street Blast has been a local staple for over 15 years and hosts fireworks and live entertainment free of charge. In addition to hosting this community event, John has invested in a host of other charitable outlets. Wheelchairs 4 Kids, CARES, Kiddie Up Ranch, and Marjorie’s Hope are just a few organizations that have benefited from his support. For a creative way to raise money for charity, John purchased a trolley in 2008. The yellow trolley has been used for fundraisers and to ferry individuals for special events and has raised up to 4,000 dollars for charity in a single event. 

John’s contributions to the community are not just financial. He loves to support local businesses and show off his adopted city. To folks visiting the area, he recommends The Social, Herschel’s, and Gill Dawg. He will tell you that The Butcher’s Block has the best chicken salad, and one of his new favorites is the Creamery. John hopes that the businesses migrating to the area will continue to improve the downtown and establish New Port Richey as a small-town destination.

By Elizabeth Cramton

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