James Beard nominated restaurateur Rob Katz, one of America's most respected and celebrated restaurateurs, is the co-founder behind the Boka Restaurant Group, which operates Boka, Balena, Perennial, Girl & the Goat, Boka Catering Group, GT Fish & Oyster, Elaine's Coffee Call, The J. Parker Lounge and Little Goat, and Momotaro. Over the last 20 years, Katz has owned and operated 17 successful, establishments, the first of which were pioneering music establishments in Lincoln Park.
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 Elbo Room, Katacomb, and Waterloo. In 2003, Katz partnered with Kevin Boehm and opened Boka, the first of 13 restaurants they would open in Chicago. The company has now grown to over 1200 employees.
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, and were James Beard semi-finalists for Best Restaurateur in 2015. Boka Restaurant Group was named one of the RH25 in Restaurant Hospitality Magazine in 2013.
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.