June 7, 2012
Russ Bendel to be honored with lifetime achievement award Friday
The California Restaurant Association (CRA) Los Angeles chapter will present the Elizabeth Burns Lifetime Achievement Award to Russ Bendel, president and CEO of the Habit Burger Grill, at its annual dinner reception Friday.
“This industry owes Russ a debt of gratitude for his leadership,” said Jot Condie, CRA president + CEO. “He has attained a lifetime of achievement in half a lifetime. So, it stands to reason that this was just a warm-up act. I can’t wait for the encore.”
Few people in California’s restaurant industry have more experience than Bendel, who has held leadership roles in dozens of renowned restaurant ventures. Before taking the helm at Habit Burger, he served as CEO of both The Cheesecake Factory and Mimi’s Café. In addition, Bendel has held executive positions in high-visibility restaurant ventures such as Outback Steakhouse, El Torito and Panda Express.
“It is truly an honor to receive this acknowledgement,” said Bendel, a past chairman of the CRA board of directors. “It’s humbling to be recognized by my partners and peers who have taught me so much about this business.”
Bendel has been recognized for his philanthropic efforts, as well as his work in the restaurant industry, including being named 2004 Restaurateur of the Year in Orange County, and accepting a Creative Partnership Award from UCLA in 2005.
“Russ’s leadership is an example of how restaurant leaders can step forward to leverage their companies’ success to make a real difference in the industry,” said Alycia Harshfield, executive director of the CRA Educational Foundation. “CRAEF has found a steadfast supporter in Russ, and his commitment is changing the lives of students across California.”
Bendel sits on the board of the Culinary School at the Art Institute of Los Angeles and the advisory board for the Collins School of Hospitality Management at California State Polytechnic University, Pomona.
The 15th annual Elizabeth Burns Lifetime Achievement Award Dinner will be held at the Hotel Casa Del Mar in Santa Monica. A portion of the proceeds from the dinner will be used to support the CRA Educational Foundation and ProStart programs in the Los Angeles area.