SBJ/February 6-12, 2017/Champions

Levy’s mantra: Family first but keep identity

The foundation of Levy Restaurants was built on the concept of “family first,” says Andy Lansing, the company’s president and CEO.

“It sounds trite, but it’s really true,” Lansing said. “We talk about family, about passion, about restaurants. They’re the cornerstones of the company. Larry originally set the culture.”

During the company’s 40-year history, though, Larry Levy’s children were excluded from his work “family.” It’s something he did on purpose. Levy didn’t want his four boys — stepsons Steve, Andy and Bob Florsheim, and son Ari — working for Levy Restaurants.

Part of it was the disagreement Larry and his brother Mark had over the company’s future in the 1990s (see related story). Larry didn’t want the extended family to go through a similar painful experience. In addition, he preferred that his sons carve their own niche in the working world.

His plan worked out. They’re all successful in other businesses. Steve, 51, managing partner of a law firm, and Ari, 36, a hedge fund trader, both live in Chicago. Bob, 41, is a screenwriter in Hollywood, and Andy, 48, owns a restaurant in Napa Valley.

“I told them whatever you want to do, I’ll be supportive, but you can’t come to work full time for the company,” Larry said. “I wanted them to have their own identity. ”

Despite his mandate, Levy’s sense of family remains intact. During all those years of traveling coast to coast pursuing sports accounts, he never worked on weekends. He would take the red-eye to be home in time for breakfast with his children.

“When I was in Chicago [doing business], I wouldn’t go to dinner with anybody else, or I would go to one of our restaurants with my family,” he said. “I’m definitely a family man.”

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