Frank Guidara is a life-long restaurateur.
He was born and raised just outside of Boston and graduated from the Restaurant and Hotel School at the University of Massachusetts. His first job out of college was with Sky Chefs, catering meals on American Airlines. When the Vietnam War started, he enlisted in the Army and did a tour as an infantry officer. That was his first encounter with real adversity, where he was sent into combat and won multiple bronze stars for heroic service.
After leaving the military, he went on to work with Ground Round, where he climbed the ranks, ultimately becoming Vice President of the restaurant group. It was there, in 1984, that he had his second encounter with adversity – his wife Janet was diagnosed with Brain Cancer. She slowly deteriorated over the next 17 years, ultimately becoming a quadriplegic and passing in 2001. During that time that he took care of her, he raised his son Will (founder and owner of Make it Nice Hospitality Group which includes The NoMad Hotels and the award winning Eleven Madison Park) and he continued to pursue his career.
In 1986, he went to work with Restaurant Associates, again rising through the organization until he ultimately became President. In his ten years with the company, Guidara developed and managed a host of fine dining and foodservice concepts- including the food and beverage operations at Lincoln Center, Rockefeller Center, The US Open and many more. From there, he went on to lead The Wolfgang Puck Food Company as the President and CEO. During his time there he doubled the size of the company and restored it to multi-million-dollar profitability.
In 2001, Guidara became President & CEO of Au Bon Pain where he led an extraordinary turn-around of the business through a chain-wide remodel program, expanded menu offerings, and upgrades to the food and operational systems, benchmarks for the company’s ultimate success. From there, he took over operations at Pizzeria UNO as President & CEO. He once again focused on a culture of hospitality and quality food while nurturing an environment of teaching and learning. Under his leadership, the company was voted the Healthiest Chain in America.
Around that same time, he had his third encounter with significant adversity- he was diagnosed with Pancreatic Cancer, and given a 5.4% survival rate. Through changes to his diet, lifestyle and the embracing of new medical procedures, against all odds, he survived the deadly disease.
Through his extraordinary career and the way he embraced each encounter with adversity, Guidara has mastered incredible lessons in leadership. He travels worldwide guiding, advising and inspiring through consulting work and public speaking- most notably in his electrifying talk “Adversity is a Terrible Thing to Waste” helping individuals become better versions of themselves and motivating teams to work together to more seamlessly overcome whatever obstacles they might face.
Frank has served as an advisor on the University of Massachusetts Board of Hospitality and Tourism Management, was the keynote speakers at The Welcome Conference in NYC, is a trustee for the Boston Children Museum, was Chairman of the Massachusetts Restaurant Associates, and currently serves as a member of the Nutrition Roundtable for the Harvard School of Public Health.
He currently lives in Nahant, an island North of Boston, with his wife Juliette.