Founder and Executive Chairman
Tom Russo’s business experience encompasses management in restaurants, lodging, and consumer goods. As Founder and Executive Chairman, he provides strategic leadership, best practices, and core values to the operation and its associates. Tom is known in the restaurant industry as one of its strongest operators – able to gain the support and trust of the field management and to very quickly get them focused on extracting profit from the sales realized.
His hospitality career began at Howard Johnson’s as a manager trainee. During his twenty years there, he held numerous executive positions, including President of Restaurants and Hotels. In 1985, Tom joined Ponderosa as President where he operated and franchised over 800 restaurants in the US, Puerto Rico, and Canada. In addition, he was President and Chief Executive Officer of ESI Meats, a subsidiary of Ponderosa, Inc.
In December of 1989, Mr. Russo was named Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Hanson Industries Housewares Group. At the time, Hanson Industries was a conglomerate, operating over 200 companies in the US and abroad. The Housewares Group operated consumer durable business throughout the US, the Far East, and Europe. From 1994 to 1997, Mr. Russo held the position of Chairman, Chief Executive Officer, and President of Miami Subs. From 1998 to 2003, he was Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of American Hospitality Concepts, Inc., a privately held firm that operated and franchised 145 casual dining restaurants in 24 states and Canada.
Mr. Russo is a graduate of Fordham University with a Bachelor of Science. He also received a Doctor of Business Administration in Foodservice Management Honoris Causa from Johnson and Wales University.