CEO AND PRINC I PAL , JOSE PH R ICHARD GROUP
Working as a 15-year-old Red Robin busboy was Ryan Moreno's humble first step to becoming a hospitality entrepreneur. His Surrey-headquartered company, Joseph Richard Group (JRG), founded with best friend André Bourque in 2009, operates restaurants, pubs, liquor stores and a hotel in 21 locations in B.C. and Alberta.
Moreno began his first business after he and Bourque got jobs slinging drinks at nightclubs. Bartending schools weren't adequately training people for real-life work: while Moreno tossed bottles like Tom Cruise in the 1988 movie Cocktail, his rookie co-workers struggled with the basics. So the two friends built their own course, and after the first class they had $10,000 cash in their hands. “Holy cow, we created this out of nothing,” Moreno recalls thinking.
The first restaurant he opened in 2002 failed. “I didn't do the homework,” Moreno explains. He does it now, focusing on providing exceptional guest experiences. JRG, which has more locations in the works, recently launched a hiring drive to grow from about 950 employees to 1,000.