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A letter from Tom Bené

Meet the new president and CEO of the National Restaurant Association.
Tom Bene NRA
Photo courtesy of National Restaurant Association

In light of all that has happened in our industry, in our communities, and in our businesses during this unprecedented time, I know it is sometimes hard to know what tomorrow brings. Having said that, I am confident that the passion, creativity, and entrepreneurial spirit that has made this industry great for so many years will enable us to emerge, once again, stronger, more cohesive and committed to serving our guests and our communities for the future. As a veteran of the restaurant and foodservice sector, I am certain that there is no other industry that will be more important or have more influence in this nation’s turnaround than our own.

As president and CEO of the National Restaurant Association, I am committed to engaging all parts of the restaurant and foodservice industry to come together as one—chains, independents and franchisees; suppliers, distributors, and operators; and the national and state restaurant associations—so that we may use our collective experience and knowledge to advance a thriving restaurant and foodservice community, while enhancing the quality of life for all.

The limitless opportunities our industry provides for everyone is what drew me to this position, especially at a time like this. The restaurant and foodservice industry is one of the only places I know where an employee can join the workforce in an entry-level role, just as I and many of you did, and work up to the most senior levels.  

Those of us in the restaurant industry are the prototype for servant leadership. It is rare to find a leader in our industry who hasn’t spent time in the kitchen of a restaurant washing dishes or in the dining room serving customers. These experiences shape who we are as leaders and help us to always remain humble while keeping our customers at the forefront of our decision making.

It is truly an honor to be given the opportunity to lead this industry into a new era. To me, that means listening intently to the needs of operators and serving our industry with the same passion, dedication and enthusiasm that restaurants serve their customers.

Warm regards,

Tom Bené

President & CEO, National Restaurant Association

About Tom Bené

Years in industry: 30-plus

First job in the industry: Dishwasher at Dixie Kitchen in Omaha, Neb., at age 14

Key positions

  • Sysco Corporation (2013-2020)
    • Chairman, President, and CEO (2018-2020)
    • EVP & President, Foodservice Operations (2015-2018)
    • EVP & Chief Commercial Officer (2013-2015)
  • PepsiCo, Inc. (1989-2013)
    • President, Foodservice (2011–2013)
    • President, North American Beverages (2009-2011)
    • SVP, Sales and Franchise Development, North American Beverages (2006-2009)
  • American Beverage Association Board (2008-2012)
    • Chair (2010-2012)
  • Women’s Foodservice Forum Board (2013-2018)
    • Executive Committee (2015-2017)

Hometown: Born in St. Louis, raised in Omaha, moving from Houston to Washington, D.C.

Most looking forward to: “Leveraging my industry knowledge and experience in partnership with the talented team of professionals at the Association and Foundation to create value for our members and ultimately make a difference for the industry.”

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