Yorgo Koutsogiorgas is President and CEO of Giordano’s. Koutsogiogas leads the Chicago-based company, which operates 25 company-owned restaurants, as well as 31 franchised restaurants in Illinois, Indiana, Minnesota and Florida.
Mediterranean roots—in culture and cuisine
Koutsogiorgas was born in Athens, Greece, and following his graduation from the University of Athens (with a B.A. degree in Economics) moved to the U.S. in 1980 to pursue graduate studies at Southern Methodist University (SMU), in Dallas, Texas. He graduated in 1982 with a M.A. degree in Public Administration.
His career in the restaurant industry began when he was recruited by the Greek Islands Restaurant Company in Chicago. Koutsogiorgas rose through the ranks quickly and became Managing Partner. He led the Greek Islands Restaurant Company in expanding its operations beyond its original location in Chicago and doubled its sales during his five year tenure with the company.
Yorgo Koutsogiorgas President & CEO Leader at Lettuce Entertain You Enterprises In 1989, Koutsogiorgas joined Lettuce Entertain You Enterprises (LEYE) – a multi-concept restaurant company — to lead the development team of a new concept, Papagus Greek Taverna. The restaurant opened in 1991 in Chicago’s River North neighborhood. Koutsogiorgas became the driving force in developing a second location. He was instrumental in establishing Papagus Greek Taverna as the leading ethnic restaurant within the LEYE group. Chicago Tribune called Papagus the “Best Greek restaurant in Chicago,” and Esquire magazine hailed Papagus as one of the “Best 25 Restaurants in the United States.”
In early 1994, Koutsogiorgas was appointed Managing Partner and Vice President of Operations of LEYE. Later that same year, he joined the senior management team of Maggiano’s Little Italy, a LEYE restaurant which was being positioned for multi-unit growth. He served as Vice President of Operations, with a focus on growing the concept. Koutsogiorgas was instrumental in developing a strong culture for Maggiano’s, which served as the foundation for Maggiano’s Little Italy’s subsequent (and continued) growth.
Expert in hospitality, talent retention, sales and concepting
In 1996, Brinker International, a publicly owned restaurant corporation (NYSE-EAT) with headquarters in Dallas, Texas, acquired Maggiano’s Little Italy. Under this new ownership, Koutsogiorgas was appointed Senior Vice President of Operations and Chief People Officer of Maggiano’s Little Italy. During his tenure with Brinker International, Maggiano’s grew to 28 restaurants in locations from coast to coast and annual sales exceeded $250 million.
At the time of his departure in 2004, Koutsogiorgas had led Maggiano’s Little Italy to earn one of the best employee retention records in the industry. The restaurant group was recognized nationally and received acclaim for its “Best People Practices” every year during his tenure.
In 2004, Koutsogiorgas joined forces with three restaurant industry veterans with whom he had worked throughout his years at LEYE and Brinker International, and co-founded Go Roma, a quick casual restaurant with a menu featuring made-from-scratch pizza, pasta, salads, sandwiches and popular Italian specialties. The first restaurant opened in Warrenville, Ill., in March 2004, and it was followed by the opening of a second restaurant in July 2004, in Northbrook, Ill. In early 2005, GESD Capital Partners, LLC, a private equity group based in San Francisco, Calif., acquired the company. Koutsogiorgas served as President and COO of Go Roma and expanded operations to include six restaurants in the greater Chicago area. Under his leadership, the restaurant group received media and peer attention and accolades for its high-quality of food, service, and focus on hospitality. In 2006, The Nation’s Restaurant News recognized Go Roma as a ‘Hot Concept.’
In 2007, Koutsogiorgas was given the responsibility to lead the operations and growth of Austin Entertainment Center, LP, a family entertainment company in the portfolio of companies of GESD Capital Partners, LLC. He served as President and COO of Austin Entertainment Center, LP, until February 2012.
In February 2012, Koutsogiorgas was appointed by Victory Park Capital Advisors, the private equity company which had recently acquired Giordano’s, to the position of President and CEO.