Rich Melman

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Rich Melman
20070516 Wildfire.JPG
Wildfire Grill
Born 1942[1]
United States United States
Occupation Chairman of the Board
Spouse(s) Martha
Children Molly, R.J., & Jerrod
Website Lettuce Entertain You Enterprises

Rich Melman is the founder of Lettuce Entertain You Enterprises, a privately held restaurant company with more than 100 venues.[2] Melman serves as chairman of the board of LEYE.[3] He creates restaurant concepts. As such he is a corporate executive who sees himself as an artist.[3]

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.

Early life[edit]

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.[1] 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.[4]

Lettuce Entertain You[edit]

By 1988, Lettuce Entertain You encompassed 27 restaurants and yielded approximately $90 million.[1] Some of their best-known restaurants include Joe's Seafood, Prime Steak, & Stone Crab, Ed Debevic's, Wildfire Grill, Mon Ami Gabi, Beatrix and RPM Italian. On January 1, 2000, he passed the title and duties of chief executive to Steve Ottmann.[3] In 2003, Kevin Brown assumed the CEO role.[5] 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.[3]


He is the father of two sons and a daughter in their 20s and 30s.[4] His children are Molly, R.J., Jerrod, who all work in the company, and his wife is Martha.[5]

External links[edit]


  1. ^ a b c Larson, Erik (October 1, 1988). "The Man With the Golden Touch". Inc. Retrieved May 23, 2011. 
  2. ^ "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
  3. ^ a b c d Cebrzynski, Gregg (January 2000). "Richard Melman - chief executive officer of Lettuce Entertain You Enterprises Inc". Nation's Restaurant News. Retrieved February 2, 2007. 
  4. ^ a b Sheridan, Margaret (2000). "Richard Melman on Savoring Peace of Mind". Restaurant & Institutions Magazine. Archived from the original on April 28, 2007. Retrieved February 2, 2007. 
  5. ^ a b Carpenter, Dave (July 20, 2006). "Restaurateur sees salad days ahead". (Associated Press story also published on Retrieved February 2, 2007.