Rich Melman on failure

Honored for a lifetime of creating successful restaurant concepts, Lettuce Entertain You founder Rich Melman offered some candid comments at Monday’s James Beard Awards about the stumbles he’s taken along the way.

“I've probably made more mistakes than anyone in the room because I've tried ideas,” said Melman, who has hatched such concepts as Maggiano’s, Corner Bakery Cafe, Wildfire and Wao Bao. “Don't waste energy trying to cover up your failures. Just learn from them and move on.”

“There's never a time I don't hustle,” he explained after accepting the James Beard Foundation’s Lifetime Achievement Award from his children, who have followed their father into the restaurant business. “I've also learned that I'm going to fail sometimes.”

A key to ultimately succeeding, he suggested, is dealing with the right people. “You can’t make a bad deal with a good person,” he said. “And you can’t make a good deal with a bad person.”

He also noted, “The star of the team is the team … the people who work with me.”

Past winners of the Lifetime Achievement Award include Wolfgang Puck, Sirio Maccioni, Kevin Zraly and Ella Brennan.


More from our partners