Steven R. Sponder has extensive restaurant ownership experience and a 30+ year track record of success. His restaurant ownership and concept creation history has included a variety of cuisines and service styles including the following concepts: NN Burger®, Fast-Casual Chef-Crafted Burger restaurants in Virginia. • Sublime®, Fine-dining Organic and Vegan cuisine in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. • The Palace Grill®, Contemporary New Orleans cuisine in Santa Barbara, California. • Cafe Orleans®, Fast-Casual New Orleans cuisine in Santa Barbara, California. • Palazzio®, Family-style Italian cuisine in Montecito, California. • Orleans Express®, QSR Cajun cuisine (in partnership with Panda Express®) in Honolulu, Hawaii. In addition to being a partner, Sponder served as a Concept Advisor to Panda Express® (The world’s largest Asian restaurant company). He also created the concept for the C&O Trattoria®, Family-style Italian cuisine restaurants in California.
Sponder is respected by his industry peers. His entrepreneurial endeavors have been featured in national business and consumer publications including USA Today®, The New York Times®, Bon Appetit® and GOURMET Magazine®. The Nation’s Restaurant News® presented Sponder with a Marketing Excellence award and credits him with creating a “Team-Service” system used in restaurants throughout the world to improve efficiency, increase sales and enhance guest service. Over the years, the innovative restaurant concepts Sponder has created have served millions of guests – including 5 U.S. Presidents.
In addition to developing restaurants, Sponder founded two innovative Technology companies – one selected for a content partnership with Microsoft® Corporation and another backed by U.S. and European Venture Capitalists and selected for a partnership with AOL-Time Warner® before being acquired. He has negotiated and formed strategic partnerships with global companies including Microsoft®, Oracle®, GE® and IBM®. In his partnership with Microsoft®, his E-Commerce technology solution for the Foodservice Industry was singled out by Microsoft® co-founder Bill Gates and demonstrated by Mr. Gates during keynote presentations. Microsoft’s Board of Directors subsequently identified Sponder as one of their most valued joint-venture content partners.
Sponder has served on numerous Boards including President of The Florida Restaurant & Lodging Association (FRLA) Broward County Chapter as well as the Board of Directors of the Palm Beach county FRLA chapter. In addition, he served as the Santa Barbara County Chapter President of the California Restaurant Association. He has also served on the following Boards at Florida Atlantic University: (FAU) College of Business Board of Directors (Strategy Committee Chair), FAU Foundation Board, FAU Information Technology Operations Management (ITOM) Board, FAU College of Engineering & Computer Science (Industry Advisory Council), Recipient of the FAU Board of Trustees Community Service Award, FAU Business Plan Competition Judge. Having founded and owned eight successful restaurants and two innovative Information Technology companies – Mr. Sponder is an entrepreneur who’s “been-there-and-done-that.”