Each week, Modern Restaurant Management magazine compiles restaurant industry headlines in MRM News Bites. Send items of interest to Content Director Barbara Castiglia at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Brazilian steakhouse Fogo de Chão celebrated Rio by ringing the bell at the Nasdaq stock exchange. Special guests from the Brazilian Chamber, including Deputy Consul, Minister Lúcia Maierá, joined Fogo de Chão Chief Executive Officer Larry Johnson, Fogo gaucho chefs and team members to officially ring in trading for the day. Fogo de Chão recently unveiled The Fogo Guide to Brazilian Cuisine, a digital destination and culinary resource guide to all-things Brazil.
Founded in Southern Brazil, Fogo de Chão operates 42 company-owned locations across the U.S. and Brazil, as well as one Joint Venture location in Mexico City. Fogo de Chão opened its first U.S. restaurant in Dallas, TX in 1997.
Hot 10 New Restaurants
Bon Appétit has unveiled its annual Hot 10 list, crowning the ten best new restaurants in America.
Taking the top spot is Atlanta’s Staplehouse, a fully non-profit restaurant built by a devoted family with the support of a community that helped them overcome countless obstacles. Joining past winners like Washington D.C.’s Rose’s Luxury and San Francisco’s AL’s Place, Staplehouse raises the bar with a delicious take on New American cuisine and the inclusion of The Giving Kitchen, a charity created to support restaurant workers in need.
“It’s a grind, but a fun one,” says deputy editor Andrew Knowlton, who traveled with senior editor Julia Kramer over 5,700 miles to more than 40 cities in search of the restaurants that are defining the way we eat in 2016. “We had more real contenders this year than ever before,” said Knowlton.
The Hot 10: America’s Best New Restaurants 2016 are:
- Staplehouse (Atlanta, GA)
- Bad Saint (Washington, D.C.)
- Lord Stanley (San Francisco, CA)
- Morcilla (Pittsburgh, PA)
- Baroo (Los Angeles, CA)
- South Philly Barbacoa (Philadelphia, PA)
- Oberlin (Providence, RI)
- Wildair (New York, NY)
- Buxton Hall (Asheville, NC)
- N7 (New Orleans, LA)
Create Your Taste
Saskatchewan residents can bite into the future, as participating McDonald’s locations across the province unveil a new modernized restaurant experience. Guests are welcome in restaurant to enjoy customizable Create Your Taste™ burgers, to McCafé® Bakery, digital kiosk ordering and table delivery.
The new Create Your Taste™ menu allows guests to use self-order kiosks to choose from two types of buns or a lettuce wrap, five types of cheese, 12 toppings, including guacamole, caramelized onions and hickory-smoked bacon strips, and nine sauces.
The concept also introduces of Guest Experience Leaders and servers who will greet, seat and even provide table delivery. With these new positions, processes and technology, McDonald’s and its franchisees will invest between $200,000 and $250,000 and hire around 10 to 15 new employees in each of the 24 participating restaurants, creating as many as 360 jobs in Saskatchewan.
Moe’s Southwest Grill unveiled their new in-restaurant artwork featuring foodscapes – stunning landscapes made with Moe’s fresh ingredients – that have been featured in their commercials over the past two years. The six new pieces of artwork that will be in its more than 650 locations by the end of the year pay tribute to the music pioneers of the past and present. Sixteen years ago, Moe’s founders honored musicians who consistently pushed the envelope with creativity and irreverence when naming the brand: Musicians, Outlaws and Entertainers. It has developed into a nationwide restaurant franchise that serves high quality ingredients with endless combinations in a family-friendly and welcoming environment that rocks.
The Augmented Reality (AR) aspect will launch with “Foodstock”, a salute to Woodstock, the legendary music festival that celebrates its 47th anniversary this week, and will eventually be incorporated into all of the pieces. The new AR-based art will be viewable through Moe’s new Rockin’ Rewards loyalty app and will give guests an opportunity to interact with the art and bring Moe’s 20+ fresh ingredients to life through their mobile phones. Specifically, guests can leverage the AR feature to play the onion drums, see bees buzz and literally create sweet melodies with Moe’s 17 quintillion high-quality food combinations that customers can customize to fit their unique lifestyles and tastes, all while having fun.
“We don’t take ourselves too seriously, but we are serious about serving food you can feel great about eating,” said Moe’s Southwest Grill President Bruce Schroder. “For this reason, creating a way for our guests to continue to have fun, make music and engage with our food through the artwork, while emphasizing our 20 fresh ingredients and endless combinations was a natural fit for our brand.”
Artist, photographer and director Carl Warner, who created these pieces of art, has long been inspired by Moe’s fresh ingredients and innovative approach to the dining experience. Warner has been the creative mastermind behind the foodscapes ad campaign seen nationwide over the past two years, the first of which highlighted Moe’s legendary Homewrecker burrito, with a “wrecking ball” avocado swinging through a house made of all-natural chicken.
Moe’s recently launched its rewards app, Moe’s Rockin’ Rewards, and is available to download on the app store or in Google Play for Android phones. The app allows guests to track points and progress, order online, access nutrition facts and receive tailored offers.
New Funding for Catering
ZeroCater raised $4.1 million in funding from Romulus Capital and Struck Capital. ZeroCater has built a $100 million-plus company after raising only $1.5 million in its 2011 seed round.
Founded in 2009, ZeroCater founder Arram Sabeti sought a way to ease the difficulty of feeding a corporate team easily, healthfully, and efficiently. ZeroCater partners with independent restaurants, food trucks, and private chefs to bring meals to offices in the San Francisco Bay Area, New York City, Chicago, Washington, DC, and Austin. In August 2015, the company announced that it had surpassed $100 million in sales after raising $1.5 million in its 2011 seed round. The company now serves over 1,000 companies tens of thousands of meals each day.
With this new round of funding, ZeroCater will expand its product and engineering teams. “We’re focused on building a scalable and responsible business, and typical venture capital practices didn’t resonate with our business model,” said Sabeti.
In August 2015, the company announced that it had surpassed $100 million in sales after raising $1.5 million in its 2011 seed round. The company now serves over 1,000 companies tens of thousands of meals each day.
ChowNow Teams with Google
ChowNow partnered with Google that gives customers the ability to order directly from a restaurant’s Google business profile — enabling its more than 5,000 restaurant clients to tap into the growing mobile food ordering market. When a customer Googles a restaurant from their mobile device, they can now “place an order” from the restaurant’s Google business profile and navigate right to the restaurant’s menu.
Today’s food ordering restaurant customer is on mobile, with 75 percent of consumers choosing a restaurant based on mobile search results and 64 percent of mobile restaurant searchers converting within an hour.*
“We’re excited to equip our restaurants with the discovery power of Google search and make it easier than ever for their customers to place orders,” said Christopher Webb, CEO and co-founder of ChowNow. “In only a few weeks, Google has driven nearly 50,000 customers to our restaurant clients, which has resulted in over 21,000 orders.”
Wine Innovation Partnership
Ocean Prime, the modern American restaurant and lounge from Cameron Mitchell Restaurants, has partnered with Coravin, Inc., manufacturer of the Coravin™ System, which allows consumers to pour and enjoy wine without pulling the cork. The Coravin program will add four exclusive wines by the glass to Ocean Prime’s wine list.
Coravin works by pouring a glass of wine without ever opening a bottle via cork removal. A needle goes through the cork to access the wine, and argon, an inert gas used frequently in winemaking, replaces the wine in the bottle. This allows the restaurant to revisit the same bottle later that night, week, month, or year, and the wine will have the same taste because it was never exposed to oxygen.
All Ocean Prime locations will offer the following three red wines, with a fourth specially chosen by each location’s General Manager. The three wines will be:
- Il Poggione Brunello di Montalcino (2011) – a rustic, Italian wine from Tuscany that pairs well with steak.
- Rochioli Pinot Noir (2014) – One of the best Pinot Noir producers in California, this Russian River Valley wine shows off the quality of the American Pinot Noir, while bringing out the best flavors in both salmon and steak.
- Chimney Rock Cabernet Sauvignon (2012) – a rich, Napa Valley Cabernet from Stag’s Leap District that also pairs well with the steak dishes on the menu, especially the Steak Au Poivre.
The fourth wine on each menu reflects each individual Ocean Prime destination and is handpicked by the General Manager of each restaurant.
Threepenny Cafe, an independent restaurant in Charlottesville, Virginia has received the highest possible rating from Foodwaze, a new app designed to help consumers locate restaurants and retailers serving responsibly sourced, sustainable products. Threepenny Cafe earned “Five Globes” from Foodwaze, making it the only restaurant in Charlottesville to receive this honor. According to Foodwaze co-founder Michael Reilly, businesses are rated based on how they source produce, meat, fish and eggs as well as how food is prepared, with an eye toward how suppliers are raising animals and growing crops.
“It is very difficult for a restaurant to earn Five Globes,” says Reilly. “We expect there just to be a handful in every state around the country . . . To achieve Five Globes a restaurant must be thoroughly committed to sourcing their produce, meat, and fish from sustainable sources.” Virginia currently boasts only two Five Globe restaurants: Threepenny Cafe and Shagbark in Richmond. Restaurant Nora in Washington, DC—the first Certified Organic restaurant in the nation—is the model Foodwaze used in developing its Five Globe standard.
For Threepenny Cafe’s owner, Merope Pavlides, the intersection of good food and good health is extremely important. A former special educator, Pavlides has several family members experiencing chronic disease and immune system dysfunction. “Americans dine out a great deal,” said Pavlides. “We can’t pretend that how restaurants source product doesn’t affect our health or the health of the planet. When we eat highly processed and factory-farmed food we’re turning a blind eye to big picture cost.”
Executive Chef, Jeff Deloff, is equally committed to responsible sourcing. Trained at the Culinary Institute of America, Deloff knows that in addition to being responsibly sourced, his food must be delicious. “I think every chef’s goal is to produce good food by finding the best ingredients possible,” states Deloff. “I think we have gotten away from that idea. The demand for cheaper, faster food has had an impact on the production of food. The simpler the product is treated, the better the outcome. So taking care of where food comes from–how it’s raised and sourced–has more of an impact on the taste than what you do to it.”
The ONE Group Hospitality, Inc. opened STK Miami in the new ME Miami hotel. Located in the heart of Downtown Miami on Biscayne Boulevard, the experience-driven hotel sits among the city’s major cultural attractions, including the American Airlines Arena, the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts and Museum Park.
“Miami is a city that has welcomed and embraced the STK brand for many years, and we are thrilled to be a part of ME by Meliá’s first U.S. location,” said Jonathan Segal, CEO, The ONE Group. “STK Miami is our second opening in Florida this year, following Orlando, and marks another milestone in our plan to strategically expand the company. With nine STK locations currently in development, we are excited to bring our unique vibe dining experience to several new cities across the globe.”
Encompassing nearly 4,900 square feet, the restaurant features artwork from local artists DuWerks, Derek Hunter, Katy Hirschfeld and the DOWW. ICRAVE, The ONE Group’s longtime design partner, created a space that reflects the brand’s signature style with a splash of Miami flavor. In addition to the STK restaurant, The ONE Group will provide comprehensive food and beverage services for the hotel. ME Miami expands the company’s current relationship with Meliá Hotels International, which includes similar partnerships with ME London and ME Milan.
Additional STK restaurants currently in development include Edinburgh, San Diego, Denver, Boston, Dallas, Austin, Toronto and Puerto Rico.
Mellow Mushroom Pizza Bakers is now open in St. Louis, Mo., at 3811 South Lindbergh Boulevard Street. This Mellow has a colorful, modern and sleek design, full of intriguing art, which invites guests to explore the inside and seek out all the conversation pieces.
Every Mellow is individually owned and operated. Mellow Mushroom St. Louis is owned by John T. Burke and Michael J, Vienhage. Asked what inspired them to open this Mellow, they said, “We visited several Mellow Mushrooms while traveling through the Southeast, and we truly loved the food and unique vibe of each location. As we would talk to friends and family about their favorite restaurants, so many of them loved Mellow Mushroom. We believe the brand will be welcomed and supported in St. Louis.”
Mellow Mushroom St. Louis is the first store in the area and hosts a collection of art pieces uniquely designed and built by a select group of artists from St. Louis, Asheville, N.C., and Atlanta, Ga. Several sculptural pieces in the beer garden come from our special collection here at Mellow Mushroom headquarters, which has been curated from around the world. This grouping provides a wide variety of art mediums including a light and shadow sculpture made of wood, a tempered glass mosaic, a wheat paste collage over the kitchen telling the visual story of some of St. Louis’ well known faces and places, hand done paintings, and metal sculptures.
Guests can participate in an online tour of the art at this Mellow by following the directions on the plaque at the front of the store. The online tour features description of the art pieces and artists who designed for this restaurant and connects guests with the artists’ online portfolios.
The TA Restaurant Group reopened Iron Skillet® full service restaurant at Petro Sparks in Sparks, Nevada.
The newly remodeled restaurant is the last piece of a complete $2.5 million remodel of the location. The adjacent Alamo Casino, Super 8 hotel and the Petro Stopping Center have all undergone upgrades in the past year.
Inside the newly renovated Iron Skillet, guests will find a new western themed casual dining experience. Its first restaurant opened in 1967, and today the TA Restaurant Group operates and franchises nearly 800 restaurants. These include quick service and full service restaurants and other food outlets: in all, [more than 30] restaurant brands, including Iron Skillet and nine other proprietary brands, make up the TA Restaurant Group. The TA Restaurant Group is a division of TravelCenters of America.
Ono Hawaiian BBQ opened at 3540 Riverside Plaza Dr, Suite #324, Riverside, California. This is the 58th restaurant for the Hawaiian food chain and the third branch in the city of Riverside.
The approximately 1800 square-feet Ono Hawaiian BBQ incorporates the brand’s industrial chic design inspired by Hawaii’s rustic elements; featuring reclaimed wood walls, rope lighting, aqua tiles, and tropical planters. The restaurant has seating for 46 guests inside the dining room.
The fast casual restaurant chain serving Hawaiian Plate Lunches and other island specialties operates 58 restaurants throughout California and Arizona and plans to open 12 more locations in the next year.
Texas de Brazil Churrascaria opened in Oklahoma City, OK. The new 7300 square foot restaurant accommodates 190 guests and features an open-view grill in the dining area, a wine wall, custom wooden feature table and a bar/lounge area. Located at the city’s Penn Square Mall, the new Oklahoma City location is the company’s 48th restaurant and second in the state of Oklahoma. Texas de Brazil opened a Tulsa location in June of this year.
Salvation Pizza opened its third Austin restaurant, located at Rock Rose. This new location features indoor seating and an outdoor patio. The 2,600 square foot space is highlighted by stone, metal and wood design elements throughout, as well as a mural by local artist Terrell Powell.
To celebrate, Salvation will host a grand opening event on Wednesday, August 31 benefitting longtime partner, A Glimmer of Hope Austin. The local non-profit organization works to empower disadvantaged Austin residents by helping them to make a positive impact in their own lives and hosts Camp Glimmer, an annual program that gives over 500 underprivileged youth the opportunity to enjoy summer camp. While checking out the new space, guests can enjoy food and drink specials as a portion of proceeds from sales throughout the day will directly benefit Glimmer of Hope.
Wahlburgers founded by Executive Chef Paul Wahlberg and celebrity brothers Mark and Donnie Wahlberg in 2011, is set to open its second Florida location this fall at Waterford Lakes Town Center in Orlando. Construction has already begun on the 6,700-square-foot space that will be slightly larger than the existing Downtown Orlando location.
The new restaurant will include a full bar with beer and cocktails and offer both table and quick service. The interior décor will feature photos and mementos celebrating the Wahlberg family’s history. Guests can expect a fun, casual music-filled atmosphere while they enjoy signature burgers made from a blend of fresh ground beef on artisan-baked buns including the O.F.D. (Originally from Dorchester) and The Melt, Wahlfaves sandwiches featuring the Thanksgiving Day and Alma’s Favorite Chicken, hand-tossed salads, side dishes, desserts and more. The restaurant will also feature a kids’ menu, vegetarian and gluten-free options.
Franchisee Gina Buell says this Wahlburgers is the second of 20 locations planned for Florida over the course of the next few years.
Marco’s Pizza is targeting the greater Phoenix area for growth. The company has announced plans to introduce over 30 locations through strategic franchise partnerships, creating more than 600 new jobs throughout the city and surrounding areas.
New Marco’s Pizza locations will open under the leadership of Area Representative Ron Stilwell, who also owns his own franchise consulting firm, has been working with the Marco’s brand for the past six years coordinating real estate activities. After watching Marco’s Pizza grow exponentially over the past few years, Stilwell decided to use his experience in development and pizza concept franchising to join the team as a Marco’s Pizza Area Representative. Already working toward his expansion goals, 10 out of the 33 targeted sites have been sold with two of those locations slated to open by the end of October.
Targeted development markets throughout the greater Phoenix area, in which Stilwell is actively seeking franchise partners, include Glendale, Peoria, Surprise, Goodyear, Avondale, Mesa, Tempe, Gilbert, Queen Creek and Casa Grande. Throughout the state of Arizona, the franchise currently has two locations open in Tucson, one in Mesa and a location in development in Glendale which is set to open this November.
“The metro Phoenix region is one of the fastest growing metro areas in the country, making it a prime location for growth in local communities,” said Cameron Cummins, chief development officer at Marco’s Pizza. “We are still at the ground floor of our development in Phoenix, making it an exciting expansion region for us. Our development team is poised for success and we’re eager to bring Marco’s back to both old and new customers in the area.”
The 700-plus unit company aims to reach 1,000 locations in 2017. Marco’s Pizza continues to open an average of one new store every third day, more than doubling its size in less than five years.
Crushed Red Urban Bake and Chop Shop signed a franchise development agreement to open a minimum of 20 locations in four states. The deal brings on Crushed Red’s first Area Representatives who will open locations in Oklahoma, Northern Texas, Kansas and Arkansas. The first of 20 locations is expected to open in spring 2017 in Tulsa, OK.
The new Crushed Red restaurants will be opened by an investor group comprised of professionals in the real estate, finance, franchising, and restaurant industries led by Sean Kouplen, local entrepreneur and Chairman and CEO of Regent Bank. The investors originally visited the concept known for chopped salads and artisan crafted pizzas while in St. Louis for business. With an immediate love for the food and atmosphere, they were intrigued with the possibility of introducing it to their home market of Tulsa, Oklahoma. After getting to know the co-founders, Chris LaRocca and Powell Kalish, and learning about the operations of the company, the group became interested in becoming Area Representatives.
“Crushed Red is wildly popular in St. Louis and we believe it has the potential to be a national brand. Chris and Powell have great experience on the restaurant operations side and their attention to detail is incredible,” said Kouplen. “We fell in love with the uniqueness of the concept, and the food and branding are truly outstanding. We believe it has great potential to have an outstanding lunch and dinner crowd. It is healthy, fresh, and local with a high-end feel at a very reasonable price point.”
The signed Area Representative agreement gives the franchise group the ability to sell and support Crushed Red locations in four states. Between opening locations themselves and finding the right franchise partners in Arkansas, Texas, Kansas and Oklahoma, the group anticipates having at least 20 stores open by 2020. The initial focus after opening in Tulsa will include major markets such as Dallas, Oklahoma City and Kansas City.
“This franchise agreement marks a significant milestone for Crushed Red as we expand the brand and become a national fast casual player,” said LaRocca, “We are carving out our own distinctive niche in the fast-casual space that we have dubbed ‘Artisan Fast,’ serving up true artisan flavors – fast – in a welcoming and comfortable environment. With this new deal, hundreds of thousands of new guests will get to enjoy our chopped salads and artisan crafted pizzas.”
1000 Degrees Neapolitan Pizza has signed a franchise agreement to bring two units to the Orlando area, the first of which is expected to open this fall. This is part of the brand’s rapid expansion throughout Florida, as 1000 Degrees will open restaurants in Boca Raton, Delray Beach and Miami by the end of the year.
Franchise partners and husband and wife duo Caroline and Matt Peach of Peachy Pizza, LLC plan to open the two new Orlando 1000 Degrees Neapolitan Pizza locations within the next six months. Both entrepreneurs and previous owners of several franchises, once Matt and Caroline had their first fast-casual pizza experience, they saw the business opportunity and wanted to capitalize for their next business venture.
The international franchise is growing at a rapid paced is projected to open 170 units by the end of 2017.
Uncle Maddio’s Pizza, signed a second franchisee for the Knoxville, TN area. Ken Heatley, along with his son Ryan Heatley, will open three Knoxville units, bringing the total area count to four. The first restaurant is slated to open in 2017 once the best site is identified
The existing Uncle Maddio’s restaurant, owned and operated by Glen Lax, a five-year Uncle Maddio’s veteran, is currently located in the Northshore area at 2052 Town Center Blvd.
“My family and I searched for the right franchise for a long time,” said franchisee, Ken Heatley. “After originally planning to open a sandwich franchise, we discovered Uncle Maddio’s Pizza and instantly fell in love with the brand as well as the leadership team. We knew that Uncle Maddio’s and the personalized pizza concept was the right fit for us.”
Ryan, along with his wife Mary, will move to Knoxville from Indiana to operate the restaurants. Ryan currently helps Ken run their Allstate Insurance business for The Heatley Agency but will transition full-time to the restaurant business.
Operating 45 locations in 14 states, Uncle Maddio’s has more than 250 units in development.
Captain D’s LLC plans to expand its presence in North Carolina. The company currently has 27 restaurants located throughout the state of North Carolina and is targeting Charlotte, Raleigh, Winston-Salem and Greensboro to further expand its presence in the state.
Captain D’s growth plans for North Carolina are part of the brand’s overall franchise development plans for this year. This expansion is part of Captain D’s ongoing success, with the second quarter of 2016 signifying the company’s 19th consecutive quarter of system-wide growth, generating a 3.1 percent system-wide same store sales increase for franchisees.
The chain offers a new restaurant beach design. To date, 50 percent of all restaurants have been reimaged to the brand’s new vibrant, coastal design, with another 50 locations to be remodeled by the end of this year.
Chef Emeril Lagasse partnered with Jack Schwartz Shoes Inc. (JSSI) to produce a new shoe line specially designed for restaurant industry professionals to provide maximum protection and comfort for demanding work days.
“As someone who’s worked in the kitchen for over 20 years, I know how difficult it is to find a comfortable shoe that can handle the wear and tear of being on your feet all day,” said Emeril Lagasse. “I wanted to create a reasonably priced, better looking and higher quality line of shoes that are comfortable and attractive.”
Chef Lagasse worked with JSSI’s creative and engineering teams to integrate antimicrobial and water repellent technologies into the material of the shoe upper itself, while also introducing a memory foam insole for enhanced comfort. Each shoe also includes an Emeril-inspired slip-resistant outsole to provide reliable traction on any surface, an essential consideration in busy kitchens. Beyond the functional innovations, the shoes are designed to meet the evolving tastes of culinary professionals, offering both style and substance.
The shoes will be available through a partnership with Shoe Carnival beginning November 1.
NewMetro Design introduces AUS-ION™, the first seamless, one-piece formed iron (low-carbon steel) cookware to the U.S. market. The cookware features seamless, rivetless, one-piece formed low-carbon steel construction for hygiene and durability.
The pans come pre-seasoned for all-natural nonstick, like cast iron, and cook like cast iron, but are half the weight. They are designed and manufactured in Australia from pure Australian iron ore.
Tilit NYC, which has been manufacturing workwear in New York City since late 2012 with a focus on hotels and restaurants, released the PPX chef coat. Made entirely of recycled fibers of 50 percent Hemp and 50 percent cotton, the PPX chef coat features a covered snap placket, vented side panels, rear neck apron tab and adjustable hip tabs. It is U.S. made as are all of Tilit’s goods and comes on men’s and women’s fits.
Started in November 2012 by career chef Alex McCrery and partner Jenny Goodman, the clothing line has grown from aprons, chef pants and chef coats to include styles ready to wear on the street like shorts, tactical pants, street pants, jackets and workshirts.
Hannah Zuckoff is the winner of LionsDeal restaurant equipment and supply July 2016 scholarship award. The LionsDeal.com scholarship fund was launched to reward and encourage students pursuing a career in the food service and hospitality industry who demonstrate leadership ability in the field, outstanding creativity and / or entrepreneurial skills.
Zuckoff, is currently attending Johnson & Wales University in Providence, RI where she is pursuing a degree in culinary nutrition.
“After graduating with my bachelor’s degree, I plan on completing a dietetic internship and working as a registered dietitian. Many may not feel that working in dietetics falls into working in the culinary career, but I disagree. I think that culinary minded people such as myself will bring a new light to medical dietetics. For a long time, meals in hospitals were viewed as no more than sustenance. My hope is that food can start healing people emotionally as well as physically”, Hannah writes.
For more information on the LionsDeal.com scholarship and to submit an application for the January 2017 scholarship, visit http://www.lionsdeal.com/scholarships.php
Benihana Inc., operator of Benihana, RA Sushi and Haru Sushi restaurants, named Thomas J. Baldwin Chief Executive Officer and President. Baldwin currently serves on the Board of Directors of Benihana and is an advisor to Angelo, Gordon & Co., Benihana’s principal investor. He will be based in Aventura, FL and responsible for Benihana’s 100 Benihana, RA Sushi and Haru Sushi restaurants as well as the 10 Benihana franchised restaurants. He replaces Steve Shlemon.
Baldwin brings more than three decades of restaurant industry expertise to lead Benihana, having served in senior executive roles at both publicly-listed and privately-held companies. He was Chairman, Chief Executive Officer and President of Morton’s Restaurant Group. During his twenty year tenure at Morton’s, he led the company through two IPOs and is recognized throughout the restaurant industry for his role in building Morton’s The Steakhouse into a global iconic brand and category leader. Throughout his career, he has also been active in multiple private equity-backed restaurant brands.