Restaurants: Mesa Grill, Bar Americain, Bobby Flay Steak, four Bobby’s Burger Palaces
Headquarters: BOLD FOOD, New York City
What he’s done: At age 25, Kretchmer swapped a career in real estate to open Mesa Grill with Bobby Flay. He’s been Flay’s “behind-the-scenes” partner for 19 years now, nurturing new concepts and slowly growing the established brands. “We were careful about building a sturdy foundation before we expanded,” he says. In the last year, the duo went into acceleration mode, launching all four burger locations, but “we had the idea and people in place long before to make sure we could execute it properly. Now it’s time to take a breath, evaluate and refine before the next growth spurt.”
Why we like him: Kretchmer believes that making employees happy is equally important to making guests happy. “We hire based more on personality than experience and facilitate employee growth,” he explains. Although Flay is very much in charge of the culinary side, Kretchmer contributes his expertise at the bar—especially the tequila selection.
When he’s not working: Making pizza from his own recipes has been a passion since Kretchmer was a teenager. “It helps me forget about everything else,” he says.
Last words: “Selling food, drink and hospitality is so much more gratifying than selling space in office parks. You never get bored in this business.”