|Occupation||Chairman of the Board|
|Children||Molly, R.J., & Jerrod|
|Lettuce Entertain You Enterprises|
Rich Melman is the founder of Lettuce Entertain You Enterprises, a privately held restaurant company with more than 70 venues. Melman serves as Chairman of the Board of LEYE. He creates restaurant concepts. As such he is a corporate executive who sees himself as an artist.
In 1971, Melman and Jerry A. Orzoff founded R.J. Grunts in Lincoln Park in Chicago. Melman and Orzoff continued their partnership, developing a number of restaurants, until Orzoff died in 1981. Melman continued his philosophy of "partnership" and now has 37 working partners.
Melman grew up in Chicago. As a child, he sold ice cream and peanuts at Chicago beaches and even sold eggs door to door. He unsuccessfully attended three different colleges. At 14, he started working for the family restaurant business. After his father rebuffed his inquiries to buy into the partnership, he struck out on his own. Persistence led him to Orzoff, who was the first businessperson to take him seriously.
Lettuce Entertain You
By 1988, Lettuce Entertain You encompassed 27 restaurants and yielded approximately $90 million. Some of their best-known restaurants included Ed Debevic's, Wildfire Grill, Shaw's Crab House, and Big Bowl. On January 1, 2000, he passed the title and duties of chief executive to Steve Ottmann. In 2003, Kevin Brown assumed the CEO role. The separate consulting business has served McDonald's Corp., Chart House and Popeyes Chicken & Biscuits. In fact, it was instrumental in the development of Popeye's Cajun Kitchen.
- Larson, Erik (1988-10-01). "The Man With the Golden Touch". Inc. Retrieved 23 May 2011.
- "Let Us Now Praise R.J. Grunts: How Rich Melman and his Lettuce Entertain You empire set the scene for Chicago's culinary revolution," Chicago Reader, April 14, 2006
- Cebrzynski, Gregg (January 2000). "Richard Melman - chief executive officer of Lettuce Entertain You Enterprises Inc". Nation's Restaurant News. Retrieved 2007-02-02.
- Sheridan, Margaret (2000). "Richard Melman on Savoring Peace of Mind". Restaurant & Institutions Magazine. Retrieved 2007-02-02.
- Carpenter, Dave (2006-07-20). "Restaurateur sees salad days ahead". MSNBC.com (Associated Press story also published on CBSNews.com). Retrieved 2007-02-02.
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