Consumer >> CEO Interviews >> May 19, 2003

Alan Stillman – The Smith & Wollensky Restaurant Group Inc (swrg)

ALAN STILLMAN is Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of The Smith & Wollensky Restaurant Group, Inc. His ever-expanding enterprise includes 15 upscale restaurants spanning nine cities nationwide. In an industry where 85% of new restaurants fail within the first year of service, Mr. Stillman's 30-year track record is a recipe for success. The cosmetic salesman-turned- unconventional entrepreneur began his restaurant career in 1965 on a shoestring when he leveraged a $5,000 loan from his mother to launch the first T.G.I. Friday's in Manhattan. Conceived as a singles bar and restaurant, the T.G.I. Friday's concept proved contagious, with the subsequent expansion of the chain under Mr. Stillman's stewardship to 13 outlets. He sold his stake in 1976, but the business model still thrives today with more than 900 TGI Friday's worldwide. In 1977, Mr. Stillman jump-started a luxury line of eateries, now recognized as The Smith & Wollensky Restaurant Group, when he founded the celebrated New York steakhouse called Smith & Wollensky. In a chain reaction, he made a management decision to spread the success of Smith & Wollensky to six additional cities; the restaurant presently serves discerning diners in Philadelphia, Washington, DC, Miami Beach, New Orleans, Chicago, Las Vegas, Columbus and Dallas. The original Smith & Wollensky, named after two random residents listed in the Manhattan telephone directory, is one of the largest grossing restaurants in the country. The New York City location recorded $26.1 million in sales in 1999 and was ranked number three in Restaurants and Institutions' 1999 Top 100 list, the magazine's 16th annual ranking of independent restaurants by total food and beverage sales. Formerly known as The New York Restaurant Group, The Smith & Wollensky Restaurant Group has grown in its 20 years of existence to include the management of several other of the nation's renowned restaurants. With Smith & Wollensky at the collection's core, the group is currently composed of New York City restaurants Maloney & Porcelli (named after Mr Stillman's two New York State liquor license attorneys), The Post House, The Manhattan Ocean Club, Cit, ONEc.p.s., (opened in the old Edwardian Room of the Plaza Hotel) and Park Avenue Caf; and Mrs. Park's Tavern in Chicago. Profile
TWST: Would you bring us up to date on what's gone on at Smith &

Wollensky over the last year or so?

Mr. Stillman: It's a tale of two countries, or an eastern country

and a western