Very simply put, the nation’s leading restaurant companies and more importantly those that are writing the checks to acquire or fund those brands know that success lies on the shoulders of their management. So, with hundreds of millions of invested dollars at stake, they need to get those management decisions correct.
With that for the past 40 years, the Elliot Group has emerged as the leading resource for the selection of c-suite executives. For many of those years, the Tarrytown, NY based company has brought many of these top executives and the financial movers and shakers to New York to celebrate the industry.
As with so much of life, the Pandemic was seemingly the only thing that could stop the simply indefatigable Alice Elliot and her team from assembling the restaurant industry’s best and brightest. Last month’s gathering at Manhattan’s Cipriani South Street was a long-anticipated signal that life is in fact on its way back to a sense of normalcy.
The event was a who’s who of Hall of Fame restaurant executive. From Shake Shack creator Danny Meyer to David Overton of Cheesecake Factory, the Seaport event proved to be everything it was projected to be when it was originally scheduled prior to the Pandemic.
“There is always a reason to highlight and celebrate ‘Courageous Behavior: Legends and Leaders’,” Elliott explained. “Given our postponement of this great event a few years ago, the extraordinary outpouring of emotion, commitment, respect and high anticipation, was beyond anything The Elliot Group could have imagined. Given all the moving parts— the ever-changing landscape on business, travel, life events— we waited a long time to bring together over 400 Leaders and CEOs to the majestic Cipriani South Street at the same time for the same genuine reasons. Well worth the wait, no doubt.”
Elliot and her team knew that last month’s return event would have so much more impact as many of these leaders had not been able to meet in person since March 2020. “When you are renowned for ‘thought leadership and advisory’ and are sought out for your executive search practice from around the country and globe, it’s a responsibility you feel to ensure your guests will have an amazing and curated experience, Elliot noted It’s also a reaffirmation that there is no replacement for trust and delivering excellence at every level. Watching our guests from all walks of life, the top tier of industry, engage, collaborate, celebrate, and communicate, is an experience for the memory box, for sure.”
The event feted four of the most accomplished stars of the restaurant industry:
Lauren Bailey, CEO and co-founder, Upward Projects was presented with the The TrueTrep Award.
The TrueTrep Award recognizes entrepreneurs who have successfully built a brand with inventive vision, relentless persistence, and a focus on purpose and people. Bailey is a creative powerhouse and master strategist focusing on conceptualization and development for 18 restaurants and five brands spanning three states. Postino, Windsor, Churn, Federal Pizza, and Joyride Taco House are each known for their unique, chef-driven menus, differentiated cultures, and commitment to community.
The Renaissance Award was presented by Noah Glass, founder and CEO, Olo (pictured at top).
The Renaissance Award recognizes leaders who have masterfully combined both the art and science of leadership to successfully develop distinctive paths in business. Glass is an industry visionary who founded Olo in 2005 and has since developed the brand to be the leading on-demand commerce platform powering the restaurant’s industry digital transformation. Through both tech development and advocacy for restaurant partners, Olo now serves over 500 brands. The company held a successful IPO in March 2021, raising $450 million to fund its further growth.
The legendary David Overton, founder and CEO, The Cheesecake Factory was presented with The Legacy Award.
The honor recognizes excellence in leadership, lifetime achievement, and contributions of outstanding significance. Through his vision, flare for culinary creativity, and commitment to excellence, Overton has helped to develop some of the highest standards in casual dining. He originated the “upscale casual” segment by creating and opening the first The Cheesecake Factory restaurant in Beverly Hills in 1978. Under Overton’s leadership, the brand has since grown to over 200 locations across the U.S. and Canada, while maintaining the highest sales volumes in the industry, averaging $11.1 million per restaurant.
The Impact Award was presented to Regynald Washington, president and CEO, RGW Enterprises.
The award, presented by The Elliot Leadership Institute, recognizes a leader who has focused selflessly on giving back and serving future generations as an advocate and advisor. Throughout a long and distinguished career with leadership positions at Paradies Lagardère and Walt Disney Company, Washington never lost sight of paying it forward via philanthropy, education, and board service. Over decades of service to students, emerging leaders, and the broad hospitality industry, he has gifted $1 million for an endowment and scholarships at Georgia State University’s Hospitality School.
“We are always so thoughtful of the hard work, dedication, and leadership we get to see and help foster across the consumer space, and there are so many worthy stories,” Elliot said. “When the time comes for honoring those that have risen to successful peeks, we are happy to celebrate those wins. We like to honor true innovation, the grit of an entrepreneur, the mastery of lifelong leadership, and those that commit to giving back to others. Our selections represent the best of leadership, and it’s a bit of magic that makes it all come together, but we believe that honoring these award winners and sharing their stories with others so they can be inspired to do more and be more.”
The Seaport event also shed insight into what leadership will look like as the reins are passed to the next generation of industry leaders. “Leadership is constantly evolving. To be a true leader there needs to be an innate sense of curiosity – the desire to want to do more and learn more. Legends in leadership want to learn from emerging leaders, and those embarking on new journeys want to and need to learn from legends in the space. The Elliot way is to bring everyone together, so all leaders are lifted. Even more, The Elliot Group is powering The Elliot Leadership Institute nonprofit to educate and elevate leaders that we know will impact the face of business today and in the future to come.”
The Elliot gala left the evening’s guest with a real vision for the future. “Elliot is well known for our ‘receiving line’ at every event we host,” the iconic executive concluded. It’s a sign of respect and embracement to everyone invited, that we are all aligned in a shared purpose of ‘giving back’ with educational purpose and intent. To see business leaders hugging and seeking each other out was glorious. Additionally, there was a renewed sense of hope, tenacity, purpose, and direction to be the best at what they do and be courageous in growing their great companies and brands. People are appreciative for the chance to share and be proud of accomplishments and future plans.”
All photos by Kenny Kim Photography, courtesy of The Elliot Group (website)