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Q&A

Q&A Eric Marx

Not many restaurant operators start out by cooking in high school but for Eric Marx, that was the way to go. Now running two high-profile restaurants, Monarch and Gilded Lily, and the Wayfarer, Marx is knee-deep in everything food, and loving every minute of it.

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Timothy Rooney Jr.

When Yonkers Raceway fell on hard times, the Rooney family came up with the idea to add a casino, as it had been doing in Pittsburgh and other places. In the beginning, the family didn’t focus too much on food and beverage, knowing that most of the people coming to the Empire City Casino were there just for the gaming.

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Q&A Robert Kasara

How did you get into the industry?
By chance, I literally started working as a receptionist in 1977 at the Larchmont Yacht Club and worked there through college right through my time at Arizona State. I progressed and ended up being the Maitre d' and Captain. To tell you the truth I grew up in very modest means and I though that if I worked at a club I would learn how people of wealth and successful means were made and that it would rub off on me and with that would come the key to wealth.

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Saru Jarayaman

What prompted the creation of ROC?
9/11, on September 11, there was a restaurant at the top of the World Trade Center, Tower 1. And there were 72 workers who died that morning in the restaurant. And about 250 workers who lost their jobs. And so we started the organization initially to support the workers who had lost their jobs. But we were soon overwhelmed with calls for help from workers. First from all over the city and then all over the country. And that's how ROC grew.

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Q&A Michael Leffler

How did you get into the industry?
I originally planned to go to law school after college, but decided to take a summer job working for my grandfather at Admiration Foods after graduation. My grandfather was very old school. He would never give you anything unless you earned it. It didn't matter that I was his grandchild, if I wanted to get paid I had to prove myself to him. I enrolled in a business law and an accounting class, and he started to include me as an integral member of his executive team.

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Q&A Richie Notar

Managing Director of Notar Hospitality, Richie Notar answers some questions and talks about his experiences in the foodservice industry.

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Marilou Halvorsen

So what attracted you to the opportunity at NJRA?
I had been a member actually through my previous employer with the restaurant association and had worked closely with Deborah Dowdell on a state tourism committee. So for 10 years we served on the New Jersey Travel Industry Association together.
I knew Deborah, I knew the organization. I'd been involved and attended some of the events. So, you know it was not new to me. I was very aware of the excellent reputation that it has in the state of New Jersey. It was unfortunately the sadness of Deborah's passing because she was the Restaurant Association. It's a wonderful opportunity. I'm excited to be here but at the same time, every day I walk in this office I do think of her.

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Q&A Mark Freeman

How did you get into the industry?
Like many of my colleagues, I started my career in front of a sink in the dish room. During high school, I was a “pearl diver” at a restaurant in my hometown of Olympia, Washington. The food bug bit me early. I stayed in the industry, in various positions, while in college and when I graduated I began feeding college kids with a company called SAGA.

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Q&A Olivier Cheng

How did you get involved in the industry?
I actually kind of fell into it. After completing my Architecture studies I then went on to get an MBA - the idea of a combination of creativity and business always interested me. During school I worked for a few caterers and then managed a 4 star resort and I really loved the service business. I then started up a catering company for Matthew Kenney, who was a star New York Chef. And that began Olivier Cheng Catering.

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Q&A Paul Grieco

What brought you into the industry?
I was born in the industry. My grandfather opened a restaurant in Toronto in 1961 called La Scala, same name as the opera house in Milan. My father joined him on the first day, and then I was literally born there in 1965.

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