Vice President, Strategy & Culinary
Garrett Kern joined Portillo's in 2019, bringing with him strategy and operations expertise combined with years of experience in the hospitality industry and a passion for food and beverage. And, importantly, he's always loved cooking and eating; he even dreamt of becoming a chef and restaurant owner as a child.
Garrett entered the restaurant industry via working in professional kitchens, eventually managing both front- and back-of-house operations in Chicago's fine-dining scene. He then sharpened his business acumen via a variety of F&B-focused roles in the hotel industry across a portfolio in Chicago, New York, and Florida.
Following these positions in hospitality, Garrett honed his skills in management consulting with Bain & Company in both Boston and Chicago, working across a broad spectrum of industries and functions with a focus on retail brand strategy and commercial due diligence. Time in consulting gave him the skills to create effective growth strategies via a synthesis of market trends, data, and qualitative insight – all viewed through very customer-centric lens.
But he couldn't stay away from the restaurant industry for long. Garrett was drawn to Portillo's for its fantastic leadership team. And, as a Chicagoland native, he was excited to be part of a brand that he adored and grew up with.
Garrett received a B.A. in history from the University of Michigan and an MBA from The University of Chicago's Booth School of Business. Garrett enjoys spending time cooking, woodworking, and gardening at home in Chicagoland, where he lives with his wife and his dog.
Favorite Portillo's Menu Item: Chicago-style hot dog