Co-Founder of Boka Restaurant Group
After opening 20 successful restaurants over two decades, James Beard award-winning restaurateur Rob Katz has become one of the nation’s most successful owner/operators. Katz, 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 busies trading pits, but quickly became involved in the bar and nightclub business. He opened four 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 Kevin Boehm, and the two would open 16 restaurants together in less than 15 years.
The restaurants and chefs have garnered many accolades, including Michelin stars, James Beard nominations & wins, Food and Wine’s “Best New Chefs,” and one “Iron Chef.” Currently, seven of Boka Restaurant Group’s establishments are included in Chicago Tribune food critic Phil Vettel’s Top 50 Restaurants in Chicago list.
Katz, along with Boehm, won Restaurateur of the Year in TimeOut Chicago in 2010, the Chicago Tribune in 2011, and was Eater National’s Empire Builders of the Year in 2012. They have been James Beard Finalists for Best Restaurateur in America in 2016, 2017, & 2018 and New City Chicago ranked them #1 in 2017 in its annual list of the 50 most powerful influencers on the Chicago dining scene. In 2019, Katz and Boehm won the James Beard Award for ‘Outstanding Restaurateur.’
Katz sits on the board of Chicago Children’s Choir, dabbles in real estate, and often speaks on restaurant panels around the country. He currently lives in Roscoe Village with his wife Kathleen, and their two children Jamison and Shelby, who provide a constant source of entertainment and inspiration.