Today we’d like to introduce you to Burt Rapoport.
Burt, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
I am a third generation restaurateur. I grew up in my families Jewish restaurant in New York that my grandfather and the father owned and operated for over 50 years. I did everything from bussing tables, dishwashing, serving, cooking you name it. After high school, I went off to college at Arizona State University where I earned a degree in marketing. I worked at various restaurants through my college years.
In 1972 I started working as a bartender at a new restaurant chain called Victoria Station. This is where I first Dennis Max. Soon we both were promoted to Assistant Managers in LA and by 1977 I was in charge of operations for eight of their restaurants on the east coast. In 1978 an opportunity came about for Dennis and I to move to Miami and become co-owners of a new Mexican restaurant. So we made the move but the opportunity never materialized.
So in 1980 Dennis and I (with other investors) opened Raffles Bar & Grille in South Florida and it was an overnight success. By 1985 we had 6 locations but sold the company and went our separate ways for a few years. In 1989 we reunited with Open Prezzo in Boca Raton. Prezzo was the first restaurant to introduce wood-fired pizza to South Florida! We spent the 90’s building up our restaurant roster. We had 13 locations that extended from Miami to Orlando.
By 2000 we sold all of the restaurants, except for Max’s Grille which is still in Mizner Park Boca Raton today, and went our separate ways again. Now I operate 4 restaurants under Rapoport’s Restaurant Group – Henry’s (which opened in 2000), Deck 84 (2010), Burt & Max’s (2012) and now the rebirth of Prezzo which opened in December of 2017.
Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
The restaurant industry is a bumpy road. Being undercapitalized is the biggest reason. It affects site selection, the build our package, and if a restaurant starts off slow and/or over budget, you can be doomed before you get going.
Please tell us about Rapoport’s Restaurant Group.
People have come to expect quality if they know it’s a Rapoport’s Restaurant Group restaurant. We are recognized for our dedication to providing high-quality cuisine for a good value, a warm and welcoming ambiance and truly attentive service at all of our restaurants.
Our biggest achievement is being awarded the Southeast Regional DREAM big Small Business of the Year Award by the United States Chamber of Commerce in 2013. With that, we also earned the Community of Excellence Award, which is awarded to one small business out of hundreds across the nation that demonstrate support for their local community.
As a company, we believe strongly in giving back to the people that we serve every day. It’s very gratifying to see how much it’s appreciated.
If you had to go back in time and start over, would you have done anything differently?
If I were to start over, I would have put together a group of mentors and people that I respect to help make difficult decisions and bounce ideas off of. Sometimes it’s lonely at the top.
- Deck 84 – $20-$30 (per person check average)
- Henry’s – $20-$30
- Burt & Max’s – $20-$30
- Prezzo – $20-$30
- Address: 1000 Clint Moore Rd. #108 Boca Raton, FL 33487
- Website: www.rapoportsrg.com
- Phone: 561-826-1790
- Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/rapoportsrg/
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/rapoportsrg/