Extreme Restaurateur Steve Schussler: October 28, 2010

About Steve Schussler:

Theme restaurant guru Steven Schussler has an eye for the interesting and a knack for creating restaurants that entertain as well as educate. Steven founded and created Rainforest Cafe, T-Rex, Yak & Yeti, Betty & Joe’s and Hot Dog Hall of Fame; and is currently Chairman of the Board of Schussler Creative, Inc., which designs and develops theatrical attractions, restaurants, and retail stores worldwide.

Click on the player below to hear Steve’s interview with Pam.

Current Schussler Creative Projects:

  • T-REX™, A Prehistoric Family Adventure™, A Place to Shop, Eat, Explore and Discover™, located at The Legends at Village West in Kansas City, Kansas. T-REX™ is also opening soon at Walt Disney World® Resort near Orlando Florida (October 14, 2008), and at The Legends at Sparks Marina (opening date to be announced). TREX ™ recreates the different environments in which dinosaurs existed and features lifesized dinosaurs, amazing special effects, and hands-on educational opportunities.
  • Yak & Yeti™ Restaurant, located inside Disney’s Animal Kingdom® Theme Park near Orlando, Florida, is an unique Asian-fusion restaurant and quick-service market which offers full-service table dining as well as quick-service food and a full-service bar set in an Indian village.
  • Schussler Creative’s new coffee & pastry concept, “Betty & Joe’s™, Baker & Coffee Maker™”, redefines the idea of a coffee house and is open at Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania. Betty & Joe’s™ features a menu with java concoctions, along with fresh baked, mouth-watering pastries including cakes, pies, tartlets and scones. Each barista is formerly trained in coffee preparation and is ready and able to suggest the perfect pairing between a java drink and pastry pick
  • Hot Dog Hall of Fame™: Frankly the Best Hot Dogs, Sausages, Dumplings, and French-Fries in the World! Hot Dog Hall of Fame is located at Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania and several other locations nationwide are in the works. Hot Dog Hall of Fame is the home of Paint Your Own Weiner™ – a trademarked interactive activity for children. In addition, The Art of Mustard™ is an artistic way for guests to taste a wide and varied selection of different mustards. Using the paint brushes as props, mustards are offered as paints on an artist’s pallet and painted onto the dogs themselves.

Schussler Creative Projects Under Development:

  • Orange County Choppers America’s RoadHouse™ – Bikes, Burgers and Barbecue
  • Aerobleu: The Spirit of Cool™
  • Zi™ Imperial Kitchen™ – Asian Antiquities and Culinary Art™
  • Winter Wonderland™
  • Sorcerer’s Kitchen: School of Wizardry, Food & Magic™
  • Musical Garden: A Living Work of Art, Food and Music™
  • Water, Fire & Ice™ – Polar Ultra Lounge™ – The Hottest Place on Ice™
  • Pizza Market™ – Italian Kitchen, Wine & Groceria™ – The Place to Ciao! ™

A creative type all his life, Schussler has a passion for conceiving concepts that appeal to the masses. He created several popular restaurant attractions including Blue Suede Shoes, Juke Box Junction, Peggy Sue’s, and The Rodeo. In addition, he is credited with developing Jukebox Saturday Night, a nostalgic restaurant and night club featuring a ’57 Chevy, a D.J. booth, and other memorabilia with locations in Minneapolis, Minnesota; Chicago, Illinois; Springfield, Illinois; Des Moines, Iowa; and San Francisco, California. While successful with these restaurants and nightclubs, Steven’s dream was to create a theme that attracted a variety of demographics from ages 3 to 103. Armed with a love of tropical birds and a burning desire to create an environmentally-friendly family adventure, he began developing the idea for Rainforest Café in the early ‘80s.

He had a difficult time persuading others of the plausibility of the idea. To help with the sales pitch, he spent half of a million dollars transforming his house into a rainforest and invited investors to experience the concept first-hand.

Fast forward to 1994, and his dream became reality when the first Rainforest Café opened at Mall of America. Since then, 42 restaurants have been added to the chain – 35 in the U.S. and eight overseas. Schussler sold the concept in 2000 but not before it received more than 40 awards in six years including: Fortune Magazine’s Top 100 Fastest Growing Companies in the U.S.A. (named to the list two consecutive years); Nation’s Restaurant News’ Hot Concept Award, Orlando Magazine’s Best Theme Restaurant; the National Retail Federation’s National Retailer of the Year; and Chicago Tribune’s Best Restaurant for Kids. In 2000, Schussler founded Schussler Creative, Inc., where he leads the creative vision and overall strategic direction of the organization.

Prior to entering the restaurant and entertainment arenas, Schussler held executive positions in the television and radio broadcast industry. He sold television time for ABC, CBS, and NBC.

Giving back to the community is also one of Steven Schussler’s passions and a very important part of his life. He is a member of the board of directors of Smile Network International, a not-for-profit organization that funds and conducts surgical missions with a focus on reconstructive surgery for children in developing countries. In June, 2002, Schussler led a mission to the State of Guerro in Mexico, and the mission successfully performed nine surgeries on children. Since that mission, Smile Network International has conducted several missions to the State of Guerro. As of today, the organization continues to put new smiles on the faces of many families and has performed over 235 surgeries. In addition to his work with Smile Network International, Schussler is a graduate of the FBI Citizen’s Academy. The Academy engages citizens in the process of protecting their communities and country. He has also been involved with several other charitable and civic organizations including the Leukemia Society, American Lung Association, Minneapolis Youth Connection, Lifeskills Center for Leadership, and Special Olympics.

For more about Steve visit www.SchusslerCreative.com and www.ItsAJungleInThereBook.com

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