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In Memoriam

A Tribute to Bob Zappatelli

1959 – 2009

The Woodlands (Houston), Texas, June 3, 2009 … Bob Zappatelli, Benchmark Hospitality’s beloved Vice President of Food and Beverage, unexpectedly and peacefully passed away Sunday, May 31st, 2009.  His loss is profoundly felt by all who knew him. 

Bob Zappatelli was a great man, an inspiring leader, and a devoted friend.  He expertly served the people and customers of Benchmark Hospitality International for 15 years and in a multitude of capacities.  These included as Executive Chef, Director of Food & Beverage, General Manager, Corporate Food & Beverage Director, and eventually Vice President of Food & Beverage -- Benchmark’s first!  During these years, Bob oversaw the opening or re-concepting of 50 restaurants and lounges. 

“Bob’s contributions to Benchmark Hospitality were innumerable and absolutely invaluable,” said Burt Cabañas, chairman and chief executive officer.  “He has left an indelible imprint on our company and on all of the lives he touched.  He is profoundly missed.”

At every step along his career path, Bob Zappatelli mentored his staff, developed cutting-edge culinary teams, created innovative dining experiences for guests, and helped his team members grow and develop as master chefs, food & beverage directors, experts in hotel & resort operations, and masters in customer service.

To know Bob Zappatelli was to love him.  A generous man and always the educator, Bob never said no … rather, he’d meet a unique challenge head on with “I think we can do that,” and then proceed to do so with style, taste, and an immense amount of perseverance and enthusiasm.  No one carried on quite like Bob carried on!

A New Jersey native, the Garden State never really left Bob, as he would fondly reflect upon.  This immensely talented, marvelously gifted man could talk the language of New Jersey’s neighborhoods and then eloquently discuss with New York’s most sophisticated gourmands the intricacies of fine cuisine prepared by his chefs at the nation’s temple to the culinary arts, the James Beard House in Manhattan.

Much like James Beard, Bob Zappatelli lived large and at full throttle.  He loved his craft, adored his team of gifted culinary experts, relished teaching, and was invigorated by the joy of bringing disparate people together in a common understanding and appreciation through the sharing of great food, drink and conversation.

Bob Zappatelli was a great man, a devoted husband, a superb chef, a benevolent mentor and an excellent vice president!  He is irreplaceable and is sorely missed.  And if he were still with us, he’d gather us around, prepare a superb dinner, serve an excellent wine, and discuss the pleasures of pairing fine food and wine all the while regaling us with his razor-sharp observations of where dining in America is trending now and in the future.  That’s what Bob was about … celebrating the present with a keen eye to tomorrow.

For a complete Biography of Bob Zappatelli, please reference:

To reference and share in a special Tribute Blog to Bob Zappatelli, please visit:

Scholarship Fund in the Name of Bob Zappatelli - In honor of Bob Zappatelli and his significant contributions to the food and beverage profession, Benchmark Hospitality International is establishing a scholarship fund in his name, with specific details to follow at a later date.


Ken Ellens
Ken Ellens Communications 
201-758-2864 / 201-758-2865-Fax


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