Co-Founder of Boka Restaurant Group
After opening 20 restaurants & bars over two decades, James Beard nominated restaurateur Rob has become one of the nation's most successful owner/operators. Rob, along with partner Kevin Boehm have not only built a successful restaurant group, but have established a restaurant culture built on great chefs, inspired hospitality, and amazing design.
A native of Vancouver, B.C., Katz moved to Chicago in 1987 to work at the Chicago Board of Options Exchange, one of the world's busiest trading pits, but quickly became involved in the bar and nightclub business. He opened 4 highly successful bars and nightclubs in the 1990's, including Katacomb, Elbo Room, and Waterloo, the latter two establishing him as one of the pioneers of live music in Lincoln Park. In 2002, Katz partnered with Boehm and the two established Boka Restaurant Group. The pair would open 13 restaurants in less than 13 years: Boka (2003), Landmark (2005), Perennial (2008), Girl & the Goat (2010), GT Fish & Oyster (2011), Perennial Virant (2011), Balena(2012), Elaine's Coffee Call (2012), The J. Parker (2012), Little Goat Bread (2012), Little Goat Diner (2013), Momotaro (2014), Swift and Sons (2015) and Cold Storage(2016) and establish themselves as one of the great chef-driven groups in the country.
They are also opening two restaurants in late 2015, early 2016: Duck Duck Goat and GT Prime.
The groups many accolades include "3 stars" for Boka, Perennial, Girl & the Goat, GT Fish & Oyster, Perennial Virant, Balena, and Momotaro from the Chicago Tribune. A Michelin Star 2011-2015 for Boka. "Food and Wine's Best New Chef's" for Boka's Giuseppe Tentori, Perennial Virant's Paul Virant, and Girl & the Goat's Stephanie Izard. Restaurant of the Year for Girl & the Goat in Chicago Tribune, Metromix, and Eater, and "National Chef of the Year" at the Eater Awards in New York. Restaurant of the Year for GT Fish in 2011 in the Chicago Tribune. A James Beard nomination for Girl and the Goat for Best New Restaurant in 2011, and a James Beard win for Stephanie Izard for Best Chef Great Lakes in 2013. Restaurant of the Year at the Jean Banchet Awards and Chef of the Year for Lee Wolen at the Banchet's and the Tribune in 2014. Restaurant of the Year for Momotaro in both Chicago Magazine and Chicago Social in 2015.
Boehm and Katz won Restaurateurs of the Year from Time Out Chicago in 2010, the Chicago Tribune in 2011, were named Empire Builders of the Year by Eater National in 2011. They were James Beard semi-finalists for Best Restaurateur in America in 2015, and finalists in 2016. Boka Restaurant Group was named one of the RH25 in Restaurant Hospitality Magazine in 2013.
Katz sits on the board of Chicago Children’s Choir, dabbles in real estate, and often speaks on restaurant panels around the country. Rob lives in Roscoe Village with his wife Kathleen and their two children, Jamieson and Shelby, who provide a constant source of entertainment and inspiration.