Gerard Centioli became fascinated with the restaurant industry at a young age. Some may say he was born with “burger in his blood” thanks to his dad’s innovative quick-service ideas. He started working in the kitchen when he was 9-years-old with his dad. Following graduation from Gonzaga University, Gerard went to work for his dad and began learning the business. He worked all aspects of the restaurant business including commissary, distribution, real estate and construction.
In 1983, Gill’s Enterprises merged into Collins Foods International in Los Angeles. Collins named Gerard regional vice president, enabling him to learn the corporate side of the quick-service business. In 1984, he was named Vice President of Administration of the Kentucky Fried Chicken Division of Collins Foods. By 1988, Gerard was named President and CEO of Ed Debevic’s Inc, which includes Lettuce Entertain You Enterprises, Inc. He was named President and CEO of the Tucci Division of LEYE in 1992 and became a member of LEYE Executive Committee in 1993.
Centioli was named President and CEO of the Maggiano’s/ Corner Bakery Division of LEYE in 1993. In 1995, the individual Maggiano’s and Corner Bakery entities were merged into a single corporation – Maggiano’s / Corner Bakery, Inc. and Gerard was named President and CEO.
Maggiano’s / Corner Bakery, Inc. ultimately merged into Brinker International, Inc. (NYSE: EAT) in August 1995. Centioli was named Senior Vice President of EAT and President and CEO of the Maggiano’s / Corner Bakery Division. In October 1995 he was elected to the Board of Directors of EAT and in January 1996, EAT formed the Italian Concepts Division which included Romano’s Macaroni Grill, Maggiano’s Little Italy and Corner Bakery and Centioli was named President and CEO of the Division. While under Gerard’s direction, Romano’s Macaroni Grill grew from 62 to 94 units, Maggiano’s Little Italy grew from inception to 10 units and the Corner Bakery grew from inception to 42 units. In April 1997 EAT formed the Emerging Concepts Division and named Centioli President and CEO.
In 1999, Gerard, Richard Melman and Michael Fox founded ICON LLC. ICON was formed to establish partnership with bona fide restaurant icons for the expressed purpose of multi-unit development. The first partnership was with Joe’s Stone Crab (Joe’s), and the second partnership was with Krispy Kreme Doughnuts (NYSE: KKD). While Gerard’s focus is ICON, he remains a Senior Partner of Lettuce Entertain You Enterprises, Inc. See complete biography at www.icon.com.
Gill A. Centioli
Gill A. Centioli was a fast-food innovator and once operated the sixth-largest KFC franchise in the world. The son of Italian immigrants, Gill dedicated his life to two things – people and food. His first restaurant, Gill’s Beachhead & Wheel Room, opened in 1945 and featured specialty ravioli made by his wife, Alma.
By the 1950s, Gill became intrigued with fast-food restaurants in California. He took a road trip to California and visited the McDonald brothers. He also became friends with Jim Collins, who would later operate the largest KFC franchise in the world.
Together Centioli and Collins learned the ins and outs of quick-service restaurants. Gill opened up the first drive-in the Northwest in 1953; called Gil’s Drive In (according to the family, one “L” was dropped from the name to save money on the neon sign).
In 1957 during a restaurant conference Gill met Colonel Harland Sanders, who was trying to convince operators to pay him a five-cent royalty to use his fried-chicken recipe. Centioli was impressed after tasting Sanders’ chicken and converted his three hamburger stands to Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC) stores. Centioli also introduced Collins to Colonel Sanders and Collins soon began opening KFC stores.
Centioli continued developing the concept and eventually expanded the franchise to 42 stores before selling it to Collins. In addition to the KFC franchise, Centioli also had four children with his wife. Three of his children including Gerard Centioli, are in the restaurant business. Phyllis and her husband, Bruce Biesold, own Merlino Fine Foods in Rainer Valley; Dorene Centioli-McTigue and her husband Terence once owned Pizzeria Pagliacci in Seattle and Gloria Sauro is a homemaker, the only Centioli who didn’t join the food business. Gill remained active in the food and beverage industry until his death on June 9, 1995
The Burgi Family
Joe and Betty Burgi have a long history with PICK-QUICK. Betty worked at PICK-QUICK as a teenager in 1952, serving grilled burgers and creamy milkshakes to hungry Fife crowds. In 1980, Joe and Betty became co-owners of PICK-QUICK until they took over full ownership in 1998. Today, Joe and Betty continue to run
PICK-QUICK with the help of their son Greg, daughter Cindi Nelson and son-in-law Dan Nelson. Keeping with the family tradition, Joe and Betty’s grandchildren,Emily Nelson and Dominic and Hannah Burgi, continue to plan for the future of PICK-QUICK.