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 Sir Rocco Forte, Steve Rushmore and S. Truett Cathy to be Inducted into
the Hospitality Hall of Honor at University of Houston’s Conrad N. Hilton
College of Hotel and Restaurant Management

HOUSTON— Sir Rocco Forte, chairman of The Rocco Forte Collection, Steve Rushmore, chairman and founder of HVS, and S. Truett Cathy, founder and chairman of Chick-fil-A Inc., will take their place among other giants of hospitality during the annual induction ceremony at the University of Houston’s Conrad N. Hilton College of Hotel and Restaurant Management on October 15. Since 1996, the Hilton College has been home to the Hospitality Hall of Honor, which recognizes excellence in hospitality leadership. 

Sir Rocco Forte

Steve Rushmore

S. Truett Cathy

In becoming members of this elite group, Forte, Rushmore and Cathy join 43 previous inductees who represent the pinnacle of the hospitality industry. Past inductees include such industry luminaries as J.W. Marriott, Ray Kroc, Howard Johnson, Ernest and Julio Gallo, Walt Disney and Conrad N. Hilton, as well has his sons, Barron and Eric Hilton. 

“The Hospitality Hall of Honor provides a vehicle for all of us to remember the icons of our industry, and to allow our memories of them and their accomplishments to live on,” said Thomas W. Lattin, a professor at the Hilton College and the managing director of the Hospitality Hall of Honor. “It also provides the College with national and international exposure and an opportunity to establish relationships with industry leaders.” 

The event has grown from its inception as a gala dinner and induction ceremony into a week-long affair featuring “Think Tank” sessions and roundtable discussions with Hall of Honor members, allowing students the chance to interact with industry heavyweights. These sessions serve not only as excellent networking opportunities, but also as extensions of classroom learning and as springboards for new ideas and fresh perspectives. The event, which is managed by a student board of directors, also includes an industry luncheon and a reunion dinner for former inductees. 

“I think the unique aspect of Hall of Honor is that it brings a number of the top leaders from the various sectors of the industry together, in one place, to have a dialogue with our students,” said John Bowen, dean of the Hilton College. “The other exciting thing is that our students are running the event. That gives them a lot of real world opportunities. ” 

About the Inductees 

S. Truett Cathy is founder and chairman of Chick-fil-A, Inc. Cathy started the business in 1946, when he and his brother, Ben, opened an Atlanta diner known as The Dwarf Grill (later renamed The Dwarf House). Through the years, that restaurant prospered and led Cathy to further the success of his business. In 1967, Cathy founded and opened the first Chick-fil-A restaurant in Atlanta's Greenbriar Shopping Center. Today, Chick-fil-A is the second-largest quick-service chicken restaurant chain in the United States based on annual sales.

In 2006, Cathy celebrated his 60th anniversary in the restaurant business with industry-wide recognition; a local celebration at his first restaurant, The Dwarf House, in Hapeville, Georgia; and the opening of the third Truett's Grill location—a concept the chain first introduced in 1996 to recognize Cathy's then-50th anniversary in the restaurant industry. In 2007, Cathy celebrated another exciting milestone—the 40th Anniversary of the Chick-fil-A restaurant chain.

Currently, there are more than 1,380 Chick-fil-A restaurants in 37 states and Washington, D.C. Remarkably, Cathy has led Chick-fil-A on an unparalleled record of 40 consecutive years of annual sales increases. Cathy's approach is largely driven by personal satisfaction and a sense of obligation to the community and its young people.

His WinShape Foundation, founded in 1984, grew from his desire to "shape winners" by helping young people succeed in life through scholarships and other youth-support programs. The foundation annually awards 20 to 30 students wishing to attend Berry College with scholarships up to $32,000 that are jointly funded by WinShape and Berry. In addition, through its Leadership Scholarship Program, the Chick-fil-A chain has given more than $23.3 million in $1,000 scholarships to Chick-fil-A restaurant employees since 1973. This year the company will award more than $1.4 million in scholarships to its restaurant team members.

As part of his WinShape Homes program, a long-term care program for foster children, eight foster care homes have been started in Georgia, two in Tennessee and one each in Alabama and Brazil that are operated by Cathy and the WinShape Foundation. These homes, accommodating up to 12 children with two full-time foster parents, provide long-term care for foster children with a positive family environment. Another core component distinguishing WinShape programs is WinShape Camps. It was founded in 1985 as residential, two-week summer camps to impact young people and families through experiences which enhance their Christian faith, character and relationships. More than 1,900 campers from throughout the country attend WinShape Camps annually.

In 2003, Cathy helped his son and daughter-in-law, Bubba and Cindy, celebrate the opening of WinShape Retreat, a high-end retreat and conference facility also located on the Mountain Campus of Berry College. The multi-use facility hosts marriage-enrichment retreats along with business and church-related conferences, and in summer months, houses WinShape Camp for girls.

Cathy built his life and business based on hard work, humanity and biblical principles. Based on these principles, all of Chick-fil-A's restaurants operate with a "Closed-on-Sunday" policy-without exception. When not managing his company, Cathy donates his time to community efforts and teaches a Sunday school class to 13-year-old boys, as he has done for more than 50 years.

Cathy has received countless awards over the years, including: The Cecil B. Day Ethics Award (2007); The Silver Buffalo Award presented by the Boy Scouts of America (2007); the Tom Landry Excellence of Character Award (2007); the Greater Dallas FCA Lifetime Achievement Award from the National Poultry & Food Distributors Association (2005); the Norman Vincent & Ruth Stafford Peale Humanitarian Award (2003); the Catalyst Lifetime Achievement Award from Injoy/John Maxwell (2003); the Georgia Sports Hall of Fame-Chairman's Award (2003); the Ernst & Young-Entrepreneur of the Year Lifetime Achievement Award (2000); and the Horatio Alger Award-Horatio Alger Association, Washington, D.C. (1989). He also is the author of It's Easier to Succeed Than to Fail (Thomas Nelson Publishing, 1989); Eat Mor Chikin: Inspire More People (Looking Glass Books, 2002); It's Better to Build Boys Than Mend Men (Looking Glass Books, 2004); How Did You Do It, Truett? (Looking Glass Books, 2007); and is co-author of The Generosity Factor with Ken Blanchard (Zondervan Publishing, 2002).

In addition to presiding over one of the most successful restaurant chains in America, Cathy is a dedicated husband, father and grandfather. His two sons, Dan and Don ("Bubba"), have both followed their father in learning the business from the ground up. Dan became president of Chick-fil-A in August 2001 and Bubba is senior vice president of Chick-fil-A, Inc., president of the Chick-fil-A Dwarf House division, and vice president of the WinShape Foundation. His daughter, Trudy Cathy White, serves as the Girl's Director with Winshape Camps. In 2006, Cathy welcomed the third generation of Cathy family members to the business. That year, two of his grandsons, Andrew Cathy and Mark Cathy, opened new restaurants in St. Petersburg, Florida, and San Marcos, California, respectively. In 2007, Andrew joined his cousin in California as human relations consultant for the chain's West Coast Operations. A third Truett Cathy grandson joined the chain in early 2008, when John White opened a new restaurant in Raleigh, North Carolina. Cathy and his wife, Jeannette, have 12 grandchildren, three great-grandchildren (as of January 2008) and more than 150 "foster grandchildren." 

Sir Rocco Forte is chairman of The Rocco Forte Collection, the luxury hotel company that he founded in 1996. The aim of the company is to create a collection of luxury hotels in key European destinations. Each of the hotels has its own personality, reflecting its location and nationality. As members of The Rocco Forte Collection, these hotels share a high priority for stylish design and attention to detail, exemplary levels of service delivery and the latest technology. All have exercise facilities and several have sizeable spas and health clubs. The restaurants within the hotels have their own identity and serve food of the highest standard to both guests and local residents.

To date, The Rocco Forte Collection includes Hotel Amigo in Brussels; Hotel Astoria in St. Petersburg; The Balmoral in Edinburgh; Brown's Hotel in London; Hotel de Russie in Rome; The Lowry Hotel in Manchester; Hotel Savoy in Florence; Villa Kennedy in Frankfurt; Hotel de Rome in Berlin; Le Richemond in Geneva and The Charles Hotel in Munich.

A new hotel in Prague is under development and will open November 2008. In addition, two golf resort and spas are being built—one in Sicily, opening in 2009 and one in Marrakech, opening 2010—plus management contracts have recently been signed to manage new properties in Abu Dhabi and Jeddah, both also due to open in 2010. The Angleterre Hotel in St. Petersburg, a four-star sister hotel to Hotel Astoria, is managed by the company but is branded separately. The company has won dozens of awards for both its service and the design of its hotels, which is overseen by Sir Rocco's sister, Olga Polizzi.

Sir Rocco joined Forte Plc in 1969, becoming CEO in 1983 and chairman in 1992, when he succeeded his father Lord Charles Forte who founded the company in 1934. During his time at Forte, Sir Rocco had responsibility for more than 800 hotels, 1,000 restaurants and almost 100,000 employees in 50 countries around the world. As chairman, Sir Rocco transformed Forte from a UK operation to an international hotel player based on the Meridien chain and a collection of luxury hotels including the George V in Paris, the Sandy Lane in Barbados, the Ritz in Madrid and the Plaza Athenee in New York. Forte Plc was sold in 1996 following a hostile take-over bid and has since been broken up.

Sir Rocco was knighted in December 1994 for services to the UK tourism industry and received the highest Italian accolade, the Gran Croce dell'Ordine al Merito della Republicca Italiana, for his entrepreneurial merits and strong links with Italy in March 2005. He was president of the British Hospitality Association (the main trade body for the UK hotel and catering industry) from 1991 to 1996. He was also a member of the Executive Committee of the World Travel & Tourism Council and chaired the appeals to send the English teams to the Commonwealth Games for many years. He is currently Principal Patron of the charity Hospitality Action.

Born in Bournemouth on January 18, 1945, Sir Rocco was educated at Downside School in England and went on to read modern languages at Pembroke College, Oxford. After graduating, he qualified as a Chartered Accountant in 1969, later becoming a Fellow of the Institute of Chartered Accountants in 1979. Sir Rocco married Lady Aliai Forte in 1986 and they have three children—Lydia, Irene and Charles.

Sir Rocco is a keen sportsman and in 2001, 2002, 2003 and 2007 represented Britain within his age group at the World Triathlon Championships. In July 2005, he took part in his first Iron Man event in Klagenfurt in Austria, finishing in 11 hours and 40 minutes, making him second in his age group. Prior to his triathlon achievements, Sir Rocco also ran many marathons raising significant amounts for charity. His other interests include shooting and golf. He and Lady Forte are both Trustees of the London Symphony Orchestra. 

Steve Rushmore is the president and founder of HVS, a global hospitality consulting organization with more than 25 offices around the world. He directs the worldwide operation of this firm and is responsible for future office expansion and new product development. Rushmore has provided consultation services for more than 12,000 hotels throughout the world during his 40-year career and specializes in complex issues involving hotel feasibility, valuations and financing. He was one of the creators of the Microtel concept and was instrumental in its IPO. Rushmore is also a partner in HEI Hospitality, LLC, a hotel investment fund, which makes him one of the few hospitality consultants who actually invests in and owns hotels.

HVS, which Rushmore founded in 1980, has provided consulting services for thousands of clients in all 50 states and more than 60 foreign countries. Its professional staff of more than 350 industry specialists offers a wide range of services, including market feasibility studies, valuations, strategic analyses, development planning and litigation support. Through its divisions, HVS supplies unique hotel consulting expertise in the areas of executive search, food and beverage operations, gaming, technology, hotel operations, asset management, marketing, interior design, parking, golf and investment counseling. HVS is the industry's primary source of hotel sales information. Its databases contain information on more than 12,500 hotel transactions and thousands of financial statements. HVS is also the most comprehensive source of hotel compensation data.

As a leading authority and prolific author on the topic of hotel feasibility studies and appraisals, Rushmore has written all five textbooks and two seminars for the Appraisal Institute covering this subject. He has also authored three reference books on hotel investing and has published more than 300 articles. He writes a column for Hotels magazine and is widely quoted by major business and professional publications. Rushmore lectures extensively on hotel trends and has taught hundreds of classes and seminars to more than 20,000 industry professionals.

Rushmore earned a Bachelor of Science degree from the Cornell Hotel School and an MBA from the University of Buffalo. He holds MAI and FRICS appraisal designations and is a certified hotel administrator (CHA). He is a member of numerous hotel industry committees, including IREFAC and the NYU Hotel Investment Conference. In 1999, Rushmore was recognized by the New York chapter of the Cornell Hotel Society as "Hotelie of the Year." In his free time, he enjoys skiing, diving and sailing. He holds a commercial pilot's license with multi-engine instrument rating, collects hotel key tags, and is one of the foremost authorities on regional dining-see 

The 13th annual Hospitality Hall of Honor is slated for October. 15. The reception begins at 6 p.m., followed by the induction ceremony and dinner at 7 p.m. Think Tank sessions run October 14 and 15. For more information on both, or for ticket information, contact Robin Wagner at 713-743-2487 or

For more information on the Hospitality Hall of Honor and the UH Conrad N. Hilton College of Hotel and Restaurant Management, visit our website at:

About the University of Houston 
The University of Houston, Texas’ premier metropolitan research and teaching institution, is home to more than 40 research centers and institutes and sponsors more than 300 partnerships with corporate, civic and governmental entities. UH, the most diverse research university in the country, stands at the forefront of education, research and service with more than 35,000 students.


University of Houston’s Conrad N. Hilton College
of Hotel and Restaurant Management



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