The Florida Restaurant & Lodging Association has honored Bonefish Grill President John Cooper with its 2011 Restaurateur Hall of Fame Award. The Hall of Fame award is recognized as the association’s most prestigious annual award and the criteria for selection includes a personal record of industry achievement over a period of at least 20 years. Only those nominees who have attained career distinctions of the highest level and are held in high esteem for their distinguished service to their industry, community, charitable organizations and family are considered. Tim Curci, co-founder of Bonefish Grill was also honored.
An industry veteran, Cooper started his restaurant and management career with Steak ‘n Ale in 1974. He later joined Bennigan’s restaurants in 1978 where he was responsible for the operations in West Central Florida. His career with Outback Steakhouse began in 1988. As Joint Venture Partner, Cooper developed the 13 store Orlando market. In 1999, he moved on to serve as President of Zazarac, a subsidiary of Outback, specializing in Louisiana cuisine.
In 2001, Cooper joined Bonefish Grill Founders, Tim Curci and Chris Parker, in taking their vision to the next level. As President, Cooper’s leadership has grown the successful concept from two restaurants to 158 today.
Mr. Cooper has served on the Boards of Directors for several charitable organizations including the Outback Steakhouse/Orlando Magic Youth Foundation Golf Tournament where he chaired the Advisory Committee for six years. He has also provided leadership to fundraising endeavors for Hospice of Central, Florida Children’s Miracle Network, United Way, The Boggy Creek Gang, Take Stock in Children, Russell Home, Habitat for Humanity, Orlando Museum of Art, Second Harvest Food Bank and the Boys and Girls Clubs of Central Florida. He also served on the Board of Directors for the Central Florida Restaurant Association for three terms.
“I am deeply honored to be recognized by the Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association and thank them for their support to our industry.” Cooper stated. “Thirty-seven years ago I applied as a bus boy at Steak and Ale in Tampa. Little did I know that it was not only one of the first successful casual dining chain restaurants in the country, but an incubator for some of the most influential and talented people in the restaurant industry”.
The award was presented to Cooper at the Installation Gala & Awards Ceremony held in Destin, Florida last week.