PRESIDENT / CEO
“That was yesterday - now how are we going to make it better today?”
Mark Hammond is the CEO and CFO of Larkin’s Restaurants, including Larkin’s on the Lake, Larkin’s on the River, Larkin’s Carolina Grill, The Bayfront Bar & Grill, Larkin’s Catering & Events and Grill Marks.
Growing up in California, Mark developed his penchant for enjoying food, wine and time with friends during family trips to Napa Valley. While obtaining his commercial pilot’s license and aeronautical engineering degree, he took a part time job frying taco shells at a local Taco Bell. Little did he know, that first job would lead to a life-long career in the restaurant business. He soon traded his enjoyment of flying for his passion for food, wine and the opportunity to work for the largest Taco Bell franchisee. Through several mergers and acquisitions, Mark propelled his career through a variety of positions including multi-unit management and corporate training and development during his 20 years in what were the restaurant divisions of Pepsi-Co, now Yum Brands.
In late 1998, Mark decided to go on his own and leverage his vast restaurant expertise by opening his first restaurant in North Carolina. Purchasing an existing operation, he re-branded the business with new décor, new menu and a new name. The revenue doubled in its second year of operation and continued an upward trend ever since. Mark has retained the current management for over 12 years, delivering annual bottom line growth with increasing guest satisfaction.
Water skiing to work was fun, but after several years of having a great management team in place, it was time to move on to another challenge. Mark soon opened another restaurant and catering company in South Carolina. Again, he put together a great management team and grew the award-winning business to new heights. Having a deeply engrained, multi-concept nature, he decided to branch out further and developed a new concept: Grill Marks— a sophisticated burger joint in Greenville and Columbia SC.
Mark has become the foundation of the company and has created a culture that leverages an entrepreneurial spirit to the benefit of the guest, the team members and the bottom line. He is always there whenever and wherever he is needed and his philanthropic efforts help others everyday. Whether through chartable organizations, or helping team members in his own company, Mark’s greatest enjoyment is helping others succeed beyond their own limits.