Tony Montero: Getting to Know Our New CEO
What is your full name and where were you born?
Antonio Eduardo Montero. I was born in New Jersey but grew up in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida.
Do you have any nicknames?
Everyone calls me Tony. Besides that, I’ve had two substantial nicknames throughout my life.
First, when I was a kid my nickname was “mango.” Thanks to getting my wisdom teeth pulled and my baseball coach; my mouth was so swollen at practice that my coach said it looked like I was eating a “mango.” The swelling went away but the nickname did not.
The second came from my time at Cheesecake Factory where the team called me “T-Mont.” This one was mainly out of necessity because there were so many people named Tony.
Tell us about your family:
I am blessed to have four kids and a beautiful wife, Chandra (born and raised Texan and UT Grad!!). We have been married for an amazing 18 years.
I have two kids who are now adults and out of the house. My oldest son’s name is Tyler. He is 25 and works as a Server and Bartender at Buffalo Wild Wings. My daughter Kayla is 21 and a Senior at Texas A@M (Go Aggies!!)
My two younger boys are Carson, 15 (almost 16!) and Jaxon, 11.
Everyone is excited for this new adventure of moving from Denver, Colorado to Austin, Texas. I will say that I am a very proud father and husband. I cannot wait to introduce my family to everyone here at Hai, Uchi, Uchiko and Top Knot!
What was your first job?
I started my first job when I was 12 years old (much different labor laws in the 70’s) as a dishwasher at a local restaurant in Florida. I was on a youthful quest to earn some extra spending money, and I saw a sign in the window “Help Wanted.” I remember asking for the job from the owner. Before he would hire me, I had to give proof of permission from my father. My dad did not object, and the rest is history. Since that day all of my jobs have been in some way connected to the restaurant industry.
What have been the pivotal points in your career in the restaurant industry?
Here are a few that are worth noting:
1) My first job in a restaurant as a dishwasher (see above).
2) When I was 18, I took over a valet company with a friend in Ft. Lauderdale. This laid a solid foundation for entrepreneurship.
3) Owning my own restaurants and learning what it takes to run a successful restaurant.
4) Starting with The Cheesecake Factory as a Manager and growing to a Regional Vice President.
5) Leaving Cheesecake to run the group of brewery restaurants for Craftworks.
6) Being hired as the CEO of Hai Hospitality!!!
Who or what inspires you?
The main thing that inspires me is helping to grow and teach people. I have always said that if I ever retire, I would like to be a school teacher and a baseball coach. It is a special feeling to participate in someone learning something new or achieving his or her goals.
Also, my Dad is a huge inspiration to me. I admire his entrepreneurial spirit and drive. He started his first business at the age of 19 and is still involved in many different businesses around the world to this day.
What are you reading right now?
I love to read and am a huge fan of reading. Currently, I’m not reading any book in particular, but I am reading all of our training materials for Uchi, Uchiko and Top Knot. I need all the help I can get for this intense menu test. This is my first time working this closely with Japanese cuisine and I need all the information I can get.
What is your spirit animal?
One of the animals I admire most is the horse. I have always stared in awe at the Thoroughbred in all its beauty and strength. Horses exude these characteristics and I like the idea of a work-horse. It is a great example of stamina and determination. You can see how hard a horse is working and it inspires me. I like to try an emulate that of a horse.