By Alex Pasquariello
The chances are good you’ve dined with Frank Day.
He built a hot dog stand into an empire that included Old Chicago, ChopHouse and Rock Bottom. Today, his company Concept Restaurants, Inc. merges hospitality and food across the country; among its Colorado stalwarts are Denver’s Humboldt Farm Fish Wine, Ignite Kitchen + Cocktails and Stout Street Social and Boulder’s Spruce Farm & Fish, License No. 1 and The Corner Bar.
“Colorado’s hospitality industry has been formed by Day’s leadership,” said Christian Hardigree, J.D., dean of Metropolitan State University of Denver’s School of Hospitality.
But Day didn’t just build an empire, Hardigree said. He changed countless lives by nurturing the next generation of hospitality leaders.
“(Day) demonstrated how as an owner and operator you care about the whole-person development,” she said. “It’s not just about hiring someone and when they leave getting somebody else in. It’s really about mentoring them and taking them to the next level in their careers.”
Now, a generous gift by Gina and Frank Day to MSU Denver will infuse everything in its School of Hospitality with that brand of leadership, Hardigree said. It will establish the Day Leadership Endowment and the Gina and Frank Day Leadership Academy, which will create a 360-degree mentoring program incorporating leaders from Concept Restaurants, Sage Hospitality and Stonebridge Companies; and launch an Industry Professional Hospitality Online Leadership Certificate.
“People learn how to be effective leaders through the experience they gain from years on the job,” Frank Day said. “My goal is to give students a shortcut to that information by teaching them the mechanics of leadership while they are still in school, with the hope they will be better-equipped when they go into the field after graduation.”
Students who learn those lessons are better-prepared to create a positive environment where people can develop, grow and work together as a team, he said.
“The way to achieve your goal is to make it the goal of others,” Day said. “Leadership is the key to success.”
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