With nearly three decades of experience covering all facets of the restaurant industry, Art Mendoza brings a wealth of talent, insight and knowledge to Oak + Char. The native Californian studied Architectural Engineering and Design, and began his career with the Marriott Corp. in the newly developed Great America theme park division. Over the next decade, Mendoza worked within the hospitality industry in Development and Project Management, overseeing concept, design and construction of numerous units around the country.
In 1990, Mendoza joined Chili’s Inc. (now Brinker international) and quickly moved up within the company to Area Director, overseeing multiple units across the Midwest. While there, Mendoza was tapped by Lettuce Entertain You, Enterprises (LEYE) founder and CEO Richard Melman to act as liaison between LEYE and Brinker in menu development and training. He next transferred to the Corner Bakery division, joining the team when they had just 14 outlets in place, and grew the division to 56 units across five states and D.C., generating over 60% of the company’s $150 million in sales.
Mendoza accepted a partnership with LEYE in 2004 and was named V.P. Operations for the Shanghai Circus and Wow Bao division, responsible for the growth strategies and evolution of the department. After five years, he began consulting, working within restaurant operations, design, marketing and expansion, and while doing so, came across an opportunity with JNK Concepts. In 2010, Mendoza accepted the COO position at JNK, overhauling all aspects of food and service at Bombay Spice, Los Taquitos, Puro Gelato, Nobuo at Teeter House, and Roka Akor – opening both Bombay Spice and Roka Akor in Chicago. He next opened up the 18,000 square foot restaurant and nightclub Untitled, where in addition to his operational responsibilities, grew their beverage program to house the largest collection of American whiskies in the world. Mendoza is also a Senior Vice President in the real estate development firm BlitzLake.
Mendoza co-founded MBL Hospitality in 2014, where he and his partners plan to bring unique and exciting concepts to Chicago’s thriving restaurant scene. In his free time, he enjoys playing golf, traveling with his family, and hitting the open road on his Harley. Mendoza and his family live in the Naperville suburb of Chicago.