At its annual board meeting, held at the Union League Club of Chicago, the Illinois Restaurant Association (IRA) elected Dan Costello as chairman of the board. Costello, who served previously as first vice chairman, is the president of Home Run Inn Restaurant Group, and replaces outgoing chairman Patrick Donelly of the Hyatt Regency Chicago. The IRA also named its annual award recipients in three categories: Restaurateur of the Year, Sara Rowe ProStart Company of the Year, and Vendor of the Year.
“As we enter an important year for the industry, we are pleased to elect Dan Costello as chairman of the board,” says Sam Toia, Illinois Restaurant Association president and CEO. “With a career in restaurants that spans nearly 30 years, his expertise and vision will greatly contribute to a productive year for our industry statewide.”
Costello is a fourth-generation family member serving in management and leadership roles within the business and family council of Home Run Inn Pizza—a 70-year-old company created by his grandfather, an Italian farmer who immigrated to the U.S. in the 1920s. As president, Costello directs the company’s restaurant division and is responsible for day-to-day operations, leading more than 500 employees in running one of Chicago’s most recognizable pizza brands. He also spearheads the continued definition and development of Home Run Inn’s overall brand strategy.
In addition to his work with the Illinois Restaurant Association, Costello serves on the advisory board of the Management Association of Illinois, as a steering committee member for the Illinois Business Immigration Coalition, on the advisory board for North Lawndale College Prep, and an active member and board member for the Chicagoland chapter of the Young Presidents’ Organization. He is an alumnus of the University of Notre Dame with a degree in physics and biology and earned his MBA from the University of Chicago Booth School of Business.
“I am honored to step into this significant role with the Illinois Restaurant Association,” Costello says. “The IRA serves as an extension of every restaurant in the state. Sam Toia and his team work tirelessly to ensure that our industry is in the conversation with local, state and federal lawmakers, and they demonstrate their passion for our industry and its talents through annual events like Chicago Gourmet. They are a resource for ‘all things restaurants,’ and I look forward to continuing to champion their important work in the year ahead.”
In addition to the installation of its 2016 Board and Officers, the IRA also applauded its annual award recipients in three esteemed categories:
Restaurateur of the Year was awarded to Sam Sanchez, owner of John Barleycorn, Moe’s Cantina, and Old Crow Smokehouse. Sanchez advocated heavily for the Culinary and Hospitality Modernization Act, which updated Illinois’ 1934 Liquor Control Act into a balanced, pragmatic public policy that will help promote a dynamic hospitality industry in Illinois. Sanchez is also extremely active in matters of immigration reform, particularly with respect to the Temporary Visitor Driver’s License program (TVDL). A TVDL allows undocumented immigrants to drive themselves to work and school without fear of breaking the law. In January 2016, Secretary of State Jesse White held a press conference with Sanchez, Sam Toia, and Erendira Rendon (another IRA member active in the cause) to celebrate the successes of the program—nearly 200,000 individuals licensed and insured, and to announce the winning “no appointment” policy, which takes effect July 1.
Vendor of the Year was awarded to United Healthcare. Accepted by vice president Clinton Wolf, this award recognizes an IRA member for its outstanding commitment and customer service to the hospitality industry.
Sara Rowe ProStart Company of the Year was awarded to Eurest—A Division of Compass Group for its unwavering support of the future of the hospitality industry. ProStart is a national school-to-careers program that prepares high school students for employment in foodservice and hospitality management. ProStart in Illinois is administered by the Illinois Restaurant Association Educational Foundation to over 4,000 students at 62 schools. The foundation provides work readiness training and connects students with industry professionals through job shadowing and internships to help hone their skills. Eurest Central States Division president Jim Kallas accepted the award.