Executive Vice President
Lettuce Entertain You Enterprises and Managing Partner, Wow Bao
Geoff Alexander has been wining and dining Chicago's discerning palate the Lettuce Entertain You Enterprises Inc. ® (LEYE) way since May 1993 - a career he began merely nine days after his college graduation.
Since then Alexander has worked with some of the most notable concept's in LEYE's ever-burgeoning local, national and international portfolio, including Mity Nice Grill; Shaw's Crab House; Big Bowl (eight locations locally and nationally); Vong's Thai KitchenTM(VTK) named one of "Chicago's Top 20 New Restaurants," (Chicago magazine, May 2002), Frankie's Scaloppine at the 900 Shops on North Michigan Avenue and now Wow Bao, a concept focusing on steamed Asian buns.
Alexander's career kicked into high gear when he joined the Big Bowl team in 1995, at which time he quickly evolved as General Manager for the division's first location, situated in the heart of Chicago's River North. Under his leadership which included everything from staff screening, hiring and training to purchasing, menu development, promotion and advertising, the restaurant's sales swiftly grew and catapulted this concept into one of the company's prized jewels.
Throughout the following six years, Alexander's role with Big Bowl, which was subsequently bought by Brinker International, included the opening and managerial operations for seven additional locations, both locally and nationally. Alexander's expertise was utilized in a multitude of areas, from site planning, construction and build-out to staff supervision for teams of to 70 people.
In May 2001 Alexander moved on to serve as General Manager for Vong, a high-profile up-scale Thai/French establishment co-developed by LEYE and one of the country's most celebrated chefs, Jean-Georges Vongerichten, whose original Vong was born in New York City. While Vong/Chicago wowed the critics across both coasts, the restaurant proved too exclusive for Chicago's informal Midwestern roots. At this time, the restaurant closed for refashioning, which was handled by a team comprised of Alexander; Kevin Brown, President, LEYE; and Chef Vongerichten.
A complete makeover ensued, which included everything from cosmetic remodeling to menu re-development and staff training. The restaurant re-opened as Vong's Thai KitchenTM (VTK) in September 2001.
Three years later, Alexander spearheaded the creation of Shanghai Circus (now Big Bowl Chinese Express) inside seven Byerly's and Lund's grocery stores in the Minnesota market. These Asian-inspired kiosks feature made to order take home meals to shoppers.
From there Alexander went on to tackle a new challenge, re-concepting Tucci Bennuch, a much-loved but tired Italian concept in the 900 North Michigan Avenue building. In November 2007, Frankie's Pizza and Scaloppine was born, as Alexander worked tirelessly on the construction, menu, planning and all other facets of the restaurant. Frankie's is now a Michigan Avenue favorite, frequented by locals and tourists alike, with the occasional celebrity sighting.
Not content to relax on the success of his former concepts, in January 2009, Alexander took the position of President of Wow Bao. Wow Bao, which features Steamed Bao (meat or vegetable filled "hot Asian buns") a popular portable snack throughout Asia, has quickly become a favorite with Chicagoans. In this new role, Alexander's focus is on expanding the concept to other areas of Chicago and beyond, putting it on par with other quick-serve, fresh dining experiences.
Alexander has also revolutionized the way diners interact with restaurants by being a leader in restaurant technologies and the use of social media. Under Alexander's guidance, Wow Bao has implemented on-line ordering from iPhones, Droids and computer desktops for pick-up orders, bicycle delivery and domestic shipping. He has also installed self-ordering kiosks for guest ordering at each location. Aside from pioneering the @baomouth Twitterfeed into a well respected Chicago Social Media influencer, Alexander partnered with Foursquare to have Wow Bao as one of its first Chicago restaurants offerings. Wow Bao has also flourished through both a text messaging program, and mobile gift card platform that Alexander created.
He is now a widely sought after speaker on the subject of social media and restaurant technologies having presented at the Foodservice Technology, Conference and Showcase (FSTEC) in Long Beach, CA, Northwestern University's Kellogg School of Management, and multiple times at the annual National Restaurant Show in Chicago.
Geoff is a Steering Committee member of the National Restaurant Association's Fast Casual Industry Council (FCIC), an Advisory Board Member to Social Media Week Chicago, and an Advisory Board Member for the Advanced Commerce & Mobile Retail Services Summit (RAMP)
He resides in Chicago with his family.