Racks Downtown Eatery and Tavern

Name: Gary Rack

Age: 57

Education: Bachelor’s degree in marketing from the University of South Florida

About your company: GR Restaurant Management Group, based in Deerfield Beach, is the parent company for Table 42 Italian Kitchen + Wine Bar (Royal Palm Place, Boca Raton), RACKS Downtown Eatery + Tavern (Mizner Park, Boca Raton), and RACKS Italian Kitchen (North Miami Beach). I run GR Restaurant Management Group very much like a family. I believe in coaching and training my employees to understand that hard work, dedication, integrity and honesty will lead them on the road to financial success, freedom and stability. We have 120 employees and revenue of $12 million.

Your first paying work: Delivering newspapers, a dishwasher in a Fort Lauderdale restaurant and a bag boy at Publix Super Markets Inc.

Your first break in the business: When I expressed the desire to open my first restaurant, Videl never held me back from chasing my dreams of being a restaurateur. I attribute my success to my close-knit family – my wife and twin sons, Adam and Anthony.

Best business book you’ve read: Acres of Diamonds by Russell Conwell, which my father gave me when I graduated from college. The premise is that one need not look elsewhere for opportunity, achievement or fortune. I keep it on my desk for inspiration.

Best business advice you ever got: Believe in yourself and trust your own judgment.

What you tell young people about your business: No matter what you do or what path life takes you on, you must be totally happy with yourself and feel excited to wake up every morning and start another day as if it’s the first day of the rest of your life.

Best smartphone app: Being able to control the music in all three of my restaurants from my iPhone no matter where I am.

What do you know now that you wish you had known when you started your career? Every employee is motivated differently. Every person needs to be handled differently so as to maximize their potential on a daily basis.

Every successful person grows from failure. Is there a failure you can share, and what did you learn from it?

When I first opened a new steel factory in Chicago at the age of 27, I lost our entire life savings and nearly our first home. This taught me to never depend on anyone who isn’t totally committed to the success of your venture.

Does the restaurant business have anything in common with the steel business?

It’s very similar because you are providing a service and or product to the public. You’re providing customer service to your guests and supplying a product whether its food or a pre-fabricated steel building. You also have to train — employee training as well as recruit, motivate and develop key people from within the organization for their future advancement.

What is the most important trait you look for when hiring?

I look for integrity and, most importantly, the burning desire to succeed. That is something that cannot be taught; you either have it or you don’t. It is often instilled through one’s upbringing.