Leaders with Guts Profiles

Leaders with Guts Profiles

Food & Drink

Leaders with Guts Profiles



Interviewed by FoodChannelPRO’s editor-in-chief Ellen Koteff, these food industry trail blazers offer candid commentary on the state of the business today and on the factors that shaped their own gutsy decisions. Viewers will really get to know these Leaders with Guts.


Danny Meyer is considered by many to be the dean of hospitality in America. Clearly a standout on the American dining scene, Meyer has a stellar stable of New York restaurants that have captivated the public for as long as 25 years, including the Gramercy Tavern, Tabla, Eleven Madison Park, Union Square Café, Shake Shack and his newest venture, Maialino. Meyer’s Union Square Hospitality Group now is spreading its wings in new and exciting ways. Meyer’s track record as an amazingly successful risk-taking entrepreneur is undisputed. View the interviews

Tyson MARS Foodservices Truitt Smuckers Frenchs Mccainn Plugra Kraft
Pizza Patron’s founder and chief executive, Antonio Swad, is an entrepreneur who has made the restaurant industry his home since starting out as 15-year-old dishwasher in Columbus, Ohio. When he launched Pizza Patron nearly 25 years ago, it was with the intent of becoming ‘the’ pizza place for the Hispanic community. In 2007 Swad made national headlines and received several death threats when he announced that Dallas-based Pizza Patron would allow its customers to pay in pesos. Certainly a gutsy move. Following the announcement sales increased 35% over 2006 tallies. Pizza Patron is expanding through franchises and now operates in six states in the American Southwest.

When Jeff Sinelli was still in his twenties he was already a risk-taking entrepreneur, opening several nightclubs and bars in the Dallas area, including a biker bar. He co-founded a Mongolian barbecue concept, Genghis Grill and founded the Which Wich sandwich chain in 2003. Nation’s Restaurant News named Which Wich a Hot! Concept in 2007, when the chain had 30 units. Sinelli recently opened his 100th Which Wich store. Not content to sit back and collect accolades, he created yet another restaurant concept, Burguesa Burgers, a Mexican burger joint which opened in Dallas last year. Sinelli says he often shoots from the hip. We’d say that takes some guts.

Phil Costner’s gutsy career choices have taken him where few have gone before, from the kitchen to the executive suite, back to the kitchen, and most recently to the COO post at la Madeleine Country French Café, where he is earning raves from competitors and colleagues alike. A Culinary Institute of America grad, Costner is the textbook case of a strategic risk-taker who has used each new job to hone his skills as well as develop his foodservice expertise.

Todd Graves, Raising Cane’s founder, chairman and chief executive, may have found his way onto Fox’s ‘Secret Millionaire’ reality show, but the road was paved with hard work, ‘gutsy’ choices, and an entrepreneurial spirit second to none. Following his college dream to open a restaurant featuring chicken finger meals, Graves’ journey took him from stints as a boilermaker in oil refineries and commercial salmon fisherman, to a highly successful restaurant chain with nearly 100 units in 14 states.


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