Blog / September 20, 2019
Veteran Chef Matt McMillin On The Essential Ingredients of Scaling A Restaurant Group
Matt McMillin, chef of Chicago-based Cooper’s Hawk Winery & Restaurant, has dedicated his life to creating new culinary experiences. Since joining Cooper’s Hawk in 2010, McMillin has helped Founder & CEO Tim McEnery to scale their restaurant and retail operation to over $340 million in annual revenue. All the while, the pair has maintained the restaurant’s founding ethic of seasonally-inspired foods and fine wine. Prior to Cooper’s Hawk, McMillin spent 15 years as a partner in the Lettuce Entertain You restaurant group, opening a number of concepts including Big Bowl, Ben Pao, Mity Nice Grill, Shaw’s Crab House and Vong’s Thai Kitchen. He’s also worked with French restaurants like Carlos, Le Francais, and Café Provencal. In addition to co-authoring the cookbook Big Bowl Noodles and Rice, he served as a judge on the Thanksgiving edition of Throwdown! with Bobby Flay and appeared on numerous national cooking segments. We sat down with McMillin to learn how he’s been able to conceptualize, execute, and expand his diverse culinary visions over the course of a thirty-year career. Here, in his own words, are the most important lessons he’s learned about scaling a restaurant group.