The Power 20

This year's 20 elite leaders of the restaurant industry

The Power 20

Nate Weir

Scratch cooking from local ingredients is imprinted in Nate Weir’s DNA. “I grew up in Haiti as a missionary’s kid, and my earliest food experience is going to the open markets with my mom. There were no packaged foods … everything had to be made fresh from scratch,” he says.

The Power 20

Alex Adler

Alex Adler had never worked in restaurants when he decided in 2011 to launch an elevated taco concept called Puesto. “I was a home cook my whole life,” Adler says. “I just had this crazy idea. We are Mexican-American, our parents are from Mexico. … When we started thinking about Puesto, we saw Mexican food and tacos, especially, being an afterthought.” The chain evolved from a fast casual to a full-service concept, which now has six units in California with three slated to open this year. As a young leader, Adler says he “grew on the job.” But one of his biggest takeaways so far has been in how he hires new talent. “What makes a great leader is being able to focus on what other people’s past has been,” Adler says. “I want people to come in with their previous experience and really educate us, and for us to be receptive about that. A lot of people miss on that point, and that’s been essential.”

Anna Greenberg has been part of the Bartaco family for the past 13 years, working her ways up from bartender, to manager, to the corporate office.

After serving as a director in the Hyatt Hotels CorporationCorp., Stacey Murray made the leap to the restaurant business in 2016.

Recipes can be revised, marketing plans can be rewritten, management teams can be rebuilt. But resetting a corporate culture, the strategic foundation for any and every change, is like sculpting a statue out of smoke.

“Bill Long joined Snooze three years ago and had an immediate impact on both our business and the Denver community,” says CEO David Birzon.

Sweetgreen is among the most digitally savvy restaurant brands, often cited for its willingness to be a pioneer and trial new tech advances, processes and more. Dan Beranek, a former dDirector of dDigital for Starbucks, is one of those leading the charge for the growing fast casual, focusing on driving the best digital experience for both diners and employees. “It goes back to being customer obsessed,” Beranek said at the FSTEC cConference last fall. “That drives everything we do. We have to remove friction from not just customers getting the food, but for our team too.”

Marcus Byrd was merely a fan of fast-casual Mexican chain Dos Toros when he sent a LinkedIn message to the emerging chain’s CEO. A coffee date meeting led to Byrd becoming the brand’s fourth corporate employee when the concept had just four units and was making about $10 million annually. Now, Dos Toros pulls in nearly $60 million a year and was recently acquired by Chopt.

Founding Just Salad in his 20s, Nick Kenner built a growing fast-casual brand that has seen 30 consecutive months of same-store sales growth, with 2019 comp sales up 18%.

Last August, the New York Times called Marguerite Mariscal the “secret sauce” behind the growing Momofuku Group restaurant empire.

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