Lettuce Entertain You Enterprises is a Chicago-based corporation that owns more than 100 restaurants nationwide. The restaurant business has been Richard Melman's life work, beginning with his early days in a family-owned restaurant and later as a teenager working in fast-food eateries and at a soda fountain and selling restaurant supplies.
In 1971, Melman and Jerry A. Orzoff opened R.J. Grunts, a hip successful burger joint in Chicago. Melman and Orzoff continued to develop restaurant concepts together until Orzoff's death in 1981. Through his relationship with Orzoff, Melman formulated a philosophy based on the importance of partners, of sharing responsibilities and profits with them and of developing and growing together.
Today approximately 6,000 people work for Lettuce Entertain You, and Melman has nearly 70 working partners, most of whom have come up through the organization. Melman's commitment now is to develop the young leaders of Lettuce to ensure that the company will be around for another 43 years.
Melman and his wife, Martha, of 39 years have three children who are successful restaurateurs themselves.