Today on Business Rockstars, Ken Rutkowski talks with Co-Founder of Outback Steakhouse, Inc. Tim Gannon, who is an extremely successful businessman, great sportsman and a staunch polo sponsor. He is the creator of the “Bloomin’ Onion” recipe, and many of the other dishes on Outback’s menu.
An alumnus of Florida State University, he studied art history and dreamed of being a museum curator which took him to Florence, Italy, where he became a tour guide for an art gallery. He then went to Aspen, Colorado where he developed his passion for food and cooking. The French chef at the Four Seasons Hotel had offered to train him to be his assistant.
Over the next 14 years he worked at Steak & Ale for Norman Brinker, and then Al Copeland hired Tim to help operate his Copeland’s Cajun Cafe’ in New Orleans. In 1987 Tim sold his saddle for $250.00 and arrived in Tampa with $37.00 in his pocket when Bob Basham and Chris Sullivan asked him to become their partner and launch a new restaurant concept that became known as Outback Steakhouse.
In 1994, Inc. Magazine named Tim Gannon Entrepreneur of the Year. In 1999, The Florida Restaurant Association honored him with its “Lifetime Achievement Award.” In the year 2000, Tim received an honorary Doctorate Degree in Business Administration and Food Service Management from Johnson & Wales University. He is also a member of the Tampa Bay Chamber of Commerce Business Hall of Fame. In 2009 he was inducted into the U.S. Business Hall of Fame along with his partners Chris Sullivan and Bob Basham. In 2011 he launched “Kettle Comfort, Cooking for America” based in West Palm Beach which is Chef inspired food that will be delivered to thousands of hungry or nutrition deprived people each day but at year end 2012 this was dissolved due to economic pressures.
His favorite past time was playing polo of which he had his own team, Outback Polo. Since 1992 he has been an active polo player and one of the greatest sponsors of the game. In 2001 Outback Polo won their third US Open in a row, which no other polo team has ever done. Tim Gannon also led his team in being the first team ever to hold five US championships (1995, 1996, 1999, 2000 and 2001). He has played high goal polo in the U.S., England, Spain, Argentina, Dubai and Uruguay. In 1999, he received the USPA Sponsor of the Year award for his contribution to polo. He is now very involved with tennis along with his wife, Christie.
In 2012 he started the South Florida Franchise of the new PDQ concept which was founded by his Outback partner, Bob Basham.
His other passion is his family; wife, Christie, and five children, Christopher, Kathleen, Blake, Bettina and JT.