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Stephen Judge hired as Gibson's new COO

The former Hard Rock Cafe president will oversee his Chicago-based employer's national expansion.
Gibsons COO
Photograph courtesy of Gibsons Restaurant Group

Casual dining veteran Stephen Judge has been named COO of Gibsons Restaurant Group, parent of the Gibson’s Bar & Steakhouse concept and an array of other high-volume operations in the Chicago area.

Judge will report to Stephen Lombardo, chairman of the family-run Gibsons group. Lombardo said the new hire will be responsible in part for navigating the group as it expands nationally.

Judge brings deep experience in running full-service restaurant chains and the high-end dining facilities of hotels and cruise ships.

He was most recently president of Hard Rock Cafes. Earlier, he served as CEO of Tony Roma’s parent Romacorp.; president of Bloomin’ Brands’ Bonefish Grill; president of Darden Restaurants’ Seasons 52; and VP of food and beverage for MGM Grand Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas.

A chef by training, Judge also led the food and beverage operations of Rosewood Hotels, the luxury group run by the Hunt family of Texas.   

“Stephen has a reputation across the industry as a successful operator of high-end, innovative restaurant concepts in both luxury and high-growth hospitality venues,” Lombardo said in a statement. “Throughout his career, he has introduced unique dining concepts to the hospitality industry with a focus on service excellence and culinary innovation.”

At least six Gibsons-run restaurants are included on Restaurant Business’ 2020 list of the nation’s 100 highest volume independent restaurants, as ranked by annual sales. Number 6 on the list is the Gibson’s Bar & Steakhouse in downtown Chicago, with 2019 revenues of $25.4 million.


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