Students in the Hospitality Administration and Culinary Arts programs at Berkshire Community College in Pittsfield, MA, have a secret weapon in their career education quest: the Jonathan Edwards Library.
Students in the Hospitality Administration and Culinary Arts programs at Berkshire Community College in Pittsfield, MA, have a secret weapon in their career education quest: the Jonathan Edwards Library. The hallmark of this particular library is the tireless, personal attention each knowledge-seeker receives from the reference librarians on staff. I may be a bit biased, however. The Director of the Jonathan Edwards Library is my big sister, Nancy Walker.
So I was only partially surprised when, on my last visit to her house, my sister pulled out a few issues of Restaurant Business (we called it RB back then) from the early '90s, when I was Editorial Director and writing columns exactly like this one. In fact, Nancy had boxed up every single issue of RB with my picture in it just in case I hadn't saved any (I hadn't). This simple act of cleaning out a library's storage room placed Restaurant Business squarely back in my life; a few months later, I was offered the chance to rejoin the magazine as Vice President and Group Publisher for Restaurant Business, FoodService Director, and ID. Nancy called it purging. I call it prophetic (cue the "Twilight Zone" music).
There were a few "Groundhog Day" moments at the NRA Show in Chicago last month, as I couldn't shake the feeling that I had gone to bed and woken up in the same place with the same Restaurant Business T-shirt on. My thanks to the many readers, advertisers, and staff who made it a far more welcoming feeling than Bill Murray's experience in the movie.
But it is not the same day, nor will the next few months be quiet, comfortable, or repetitive. Let me update you on changes past and future:
Since my last tour of duty with this magazine, I've been fortunate to spend time on the creative edge of foodservice information services, most recently in academia, developing a consulting group at the Culinary Institute of America. In my spare time, I received a certificate in Menu Research & Development from the CIA.
This is Peter Romeo's last issue as Editor of Restaurant Business. As Peter explained to me, he is chasing a lifelong dream to start his own company. Peter's next byline will be seen in Nation's Restaurant News, his new company's first client. We will sorely miss Peter, but we also realize how fortunate we are to have benefited from his knowledge and leadership for 12 years. Thank you, Peter.
Thanks also to other alums who helped build our brands, including many close friends and mentors: Jeff Berlind, Jess Grossberg, Dave Stafford, Mike Wigell, Tom Lenberg, Walter Schruntek, Bill Anderson, Caroline Perkins, Jim Bertholdt, Jim Scarpa and Tom Strenk.
Replacing Peter as Interim Editor is Ralph Raffio, a former Editor-in-Chief of Restaurant Business. It is a small world indeed—it was Ralph who first hired Peter 12 years ago. Ralph is rejoining our Creative Director, Beth Meyers, who has been with RB for 19 years.
Our new owner is Ideal Media LLC, a privately held, fast-growth company based in Chicago. Ideal has a very similar culture to Bill Communications, which some of you may remember as the family-run owners of Restaurant Business in the 1970s and '80s. As entrepreneurs, we can assure you that the status quo will never be quite good enough to serve you, and that we will always place your interests ahead of shareholders, stock price, and quarterly earnings. It may be our name on the door, but we are simply stewards of brands that belong to you.
Restaurant Business will be relaunched this fall, drawing on its current strengths and factoring in the many market changes since its last redesign. I hope to hear from each of you who has an opinion about what to do with your magazine.
Thirty-three years after washing my first dish in a lobster pound in Maine, I am humbled and excited to be rejoining the men and women of Restaurant Business, FoodService Director, and ID as they craft the magazines that will be your secret weapon. It is a responsibility that will require tireless work. My big sister sets a pretty high bar.