Lane Cardwell Q&A

Lane Cardwell ('77) (Photo by Ahna Hubnik)Lane Cardwell ('77 M.B.A)

Lessons learned at UNT: How to think like a business person. And that if you aren't constantly learning, then you are falling behind those with whom you compete. Also, to try and find one thing you know more about than anyone else in your company. At S&A, I focused on what the competition was doing. The senior people turned to me and then I became the person for new acquisitions and concept development.

Industry trends: The rise of "fast-casual" chain restaurants such as Panera Bread, Pei Wei and Zoe's Kitchen that don't offer table service but promise better quality food and atmospheres. It's a natural evolution. We like fast food for low prices, convenience and speed, but we like casual dining for the quality and service. Fast-casual gives us better quality but is faster and cheaper.

Charitable work: I'm a member of the Life Council of the North Texas Food Bank, and I've served on the advisory board for the No Kid Hungry effort of Share Our Strength, a national charity.

Favorite restaurant: Houston's in Addison. I go there every Sunday evening. It has the perfect ambiance and consistency in food, and it's a wonderful place to be a customer.

Favorite food: Hamburgers for casual, steak for celebrating and Tex-Mex for fun.

Cooking: My cooking talents are best demonstrated on a grill. I have attended three cooking schools for one week each -- the Culinary Institute in New York, and two in Mexico.

Travel: I travel for a living to visit restaurant companies. For pleasure, a scuba diving vacation is a favorite.

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