FOUNDER AND CHAIRMAN OF THE BOARD -
LETTUCE ENTERTAIN YOU ENTERPRISES, INC.
Richard Melman is a Chicago native and second generation restaurateur who learned the business from his father. It has been his life’s work, beginning in a family owned restaurant, and later as a teenager in fast food eateries, a soda fountain and selling restaurant supplies.
Enter Jerry A. Orzoff, a man who immediately and unconditionally believed in Melman’s ability to create and run restaurants. In 1971, the two opened R.J. Grunts, a hip burger joint that – after a slow start – soon became one of the hottest restaurants in Chicago. Food was presented differently and with a sense of humor, creating a youthful and fun restaurant – and a forerunner in a trend that was to sweep the country.
Melman and Orzoff continued to develop restaurant concepts together until Orzoff’s death in 1981, after which Melman soldiered on with other talented and creative partners. Today the Lettuce organization comprises over 50 restaurants in America and Japan.
“You can’t be 1000% better than your competition, but you can be 1% better in a thousand different ways.”
- Rich Melman
Through his relationship with Orzoff, Melman formulated a philosophy based on the importance of partners, sharing responsibilities and profits, and developing and growing together. He is not interested in being the biggest or the richest restauranteur, but in being the best he can be. Accordingly, ICON LLC – founded in 1999 – focuses on concepts that are indisputably “best-in-class.”
Melman’s personal life revolves around his family. He and his wife Martha have been married for thirty-six years, and have three children.
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