George McKerrow Jr. is a 40-year veteran of the restaurant business with a history of success in both fine dining and casual concepts. Nation’s Restaurant News has called him a “dinner-house legend” and credits him with giving “birth to an entire casual-dining segment” more than 20 years ago when he founded LongHorn Steakhouse Inc.
McKerrow entered the restaurant business as a teenager. After graduating from Ohio State University with a B.S. in political science, he bought the Log Cabin Supper Club in West Virginia. He joined the Victoria’s Station restaurant chain in 1974 and was a Southeast regional manager when he left the company in 1980.
He opened the first LongHorn Steakhouse as a neighborhood restaurant in 1981, a time when Atlanta had few choices in casual dining. He successfully evolved that single location into RARE Hospitality International, which owns LongHorn Steakhouse and The Capital Grille and was sold to Darden Restaurants in October 2007. McKerrow retired from RARE Hospitality in 2000. He co-founded We’re Cookin’ Inc. in 1996 with Atlanta chef Gerry Klaskala and Ron San Martin, the former CFO of LongHorn. The restaurant group now has two award-winning, fine dining restaurants in Atlanta: Aria and Canoe. In addition to serving on the board of directors for the National Restaurant Association (1997-2003) and the Culinary Institute of America (1996-2002) McKerrow received the first Lifetime Achievement Award from the Georgia Restaurant Association in 2007 for his years of service to Georgia’s restaurant industry. In October 2008, he was inducted into The Atlanta Hospitality Hall of Fame by the Atlanta Convention & Visitors Bureau.
Along with his partner, media entrepreneur, philanthropist and environmentalist Ted Turner, McKerrow founded Ted’s Montana Grill (www.tedsmontanagrill.com) in January 2002, and serves as chief executive officer of the restaurant company. Based in Atlanta, Ted’s Montana Grill is a classic American grill serving made-from-scratch dishes in an eco-friendly environment. The company currently has 46 locations in 16 states.
In this episode of Inside the Winners’ Circle, George talks about Ted’s Montana Grill and the company’s commitment to Mother Earth.