Founder & CEO
Cooper's Hawk Winery & Restaurants
The entrepreneurial spirit of Cooper’s Hawk Winery & Restaurant founder Tim McEnery, 34, has led him to the top of a self-made winery, restaurant and retail operation that has 2011 projected revenues of over $50 million. Blazing the trail of a cut-throat industry, McEnery has taken the well-researched and calculated path of creating a concept of tomorrow, for guests to enjoy today.
Starting out in hospitality at the age of 11 as a dishwasher, McEnery slowly worked his way through the ranks to become a restaurant manager by high school. He recalls the early days when he would drive around with his sport coat in his car and go directly from high school to work at the restaurant every night until close.
After receiving a bachelor’s degree in Restaurant and Hotel Management from Purdue University, McEnery was hired as the general manager of Green Gardens Country Club in the south suburbs of Chicago. Tasked with overseeing the club’s restaurant, banquet facilities and golf course operations, the 21-year-old McEnery quickly found himself succeeding at what people twice his age aimed to do. During the process, he had aspirations of something bigger and of his own doing. McEnery wanted to create an innovative dining experience that had much more to do with wine appreciation than solely the food. With that, he came up with the idea of what would become Cooper’s Hawk.
As a path to success, McEnery knew he needed to learn the wine business in addition to learning how larger corporations ran restaurants. He worked for Aramark in their specialty restaurant division for two years, and then moved on to a management position at Lynfred Winery, at the time, the oldest and largest winery in Illinois. There he learned about wine production, tasting room retail operations, and the intricate operational aspects of running a winery. And on top of 60 to 80 hour work weeks, McEnery spent nearly every moment outside of work developing his business plan for Cooper’s Hawk.
“I would wake up two hours before work every morning to work on my business plan, and at night I would make calls to potential investors, and continue developing all of the details,” says McEnery.
With the completed plan in hand, McEnery traversed the path of meeting, and being rejected by, twelve banks before finally getting one to commit to his project along with raising all the equity funds from investors. Finally, at the age of 29, Tim McEnery opened the first Cooper’s Hawk Winery & Restaurant in Orland Park, IL. Today, Cooper’s Hawk is a five unit winery, restaurant, and retail operation with four units in development for 2011. In 2010, the company had revenues of $31 million, and expects to surpass $50 million in 2011.