Rico Cunnington - Then
Rico Cunnington is a 1991 graduate of BHS where he was a very active student.  Photo – Rico Cunnington

Meet Rico Cunnington, a 1991 graduate of Buford High School.  He was born in Cavite City, Philippines to Bill and Nett Cunnington.  Rico’s parents moved the family to Georgia when he was three years old.  He has a younger sister Lydia. Before starting at Buford in 1980, Rico attended Lawrenceville Elementary through the first grade.  

Rico was a triple-A excellence student excelling in academics, sports, and fine arts. He maintained a 4.0 GPA and claimed that English/Literature was his best subject in school.  Rico was a member of the Bel Canto Chorale all four years, a member of the boys’ quartet, and boy’s solo in the State Literary Competition. He spent a lot of time under the guidance of then BHS Choral Director Mr. Bill Davis, so it should not be a surprise when Rico stated that Mr. Davis was the staff member who had the largest impact on him.

“Mr. Davis had a unique way of explaining the nuances of music with life lessons. He truly cared about his students and gave above and beyond to cultivate their success in and out of the classroom.” Rico added, “He set a standard that lives still to this day.” 

Athletically, Rico excelled in Cross Country and Track where he went on to break several school records including the 400-meter, 800-meter, and 1600-meter.  He was the State Champion in the 1600-meter and the region champion in the 800-meter. Rico also did well in the distance relay, the 4×400 relay, and the 4×800 relay. He lettered for three years in Cross Country and four years in Track.

Other activities and accomplishments that Rico had while at Buford High School were Key Club, Beta Club, 1991 President of FCA, and was voted “Most Talented” of his senior class.

Following graduation from BHS, Rico attended Gainesville Community College.  While at college Rico received a full scholarship in voice, played in a rock band called “Drive,” and perhaps the most important thing, had a devastating jump serve in sand volleyball. 

Rico Cunnington - Now
Rico (center) with his wife Katie (left) and his mother (right) at his popular restaurant Rico’s World Kitchen in Buford.  Photo – Rico Cunnington

After a while at Gainesville, Rico decided that path was not for him.  The hospitality and food industry would be where Rico found his calling. Rico obtained a vast knowledge of the industry by working jobs as a server, bartender, and management. He is the owner and chef of one of Buford’s top restaurants, Rico’s World Kitchen located at the corner of Main Street and S. Lee Street. Rico’s is an eclectic restaurant in the building of an old auto repair shop that even comes complete with garage doors. The menu is comprised of world comfort cuisine favorites like fried green tomatoes, Cuban sandwiches, Louisiana Po’ Boy sandwiches, Mojo Pork sandwiches, and to die for cakes.

When asked why he chose his current profession, Rico stated, “It kind of chose me. My mother was a chef for over 20 years and I have always loved food and what it meant when it came to family heritage and culture.”

Rico still resides in Buford with his wife of 15 years, Katie and their three children Isabelle, Ella, and Noah.  He is proud that his children are also Buford Wolves as they attend Buford City Schools. Rico also owns the Brunch Apothocary, a popular restaurant in Dacula. He and his family give back to the community by supporting charities and the schools.  They donate their time and resources as much as possible and have even sponsored their own charity drives benefiting the local community.

Buford’s staff have always pushed their students to be their best even on a small stage. They were taught a sense of responsibility and respect. Rico took these lessons to heart and has made a successful life in the community where he grew up.  Once a Wolf, always a Wolf!

— By Alicia Couch Payne


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