Foodservice Equipment Reports

Remembering Pat Murray

We lost a good friend a couple of weeks ago. Pat Murray was the second great patriarch of the Murray family to earn a living from foodservice and to pass that legacy on to his children. His father, Art, started a restaurant in downtown Minneapolis in 1933, during the depth of the Great Depression. It continues in operation today as Murray’s Steakhouse, and in fact, is in the middle of being renovated. Art also started Service Ideas in 1946.

Both businesses were pushed forward by Pat and his wife Joyce and then by their children. They were and are very good business people. The fact that the Murrays were restaurant operators lent them a unique perspective on the marketplace. The steakhouse thrived over the decades. And Pat was one of the first tabletop suppliers to roam the world in search of products. He sourced items from Germany and Japan and Korea. When China opened up, Service Ideas was one of the very first American foodservice companies to pioneer sourcing there.

But while the sources of his company’s products were global, the values of his businesses were solidly those of the American Midwest: loyalty to customers, suppliers and channel partners; a focus on value and family values; an inherent trust in humanity; and friendliness, pure and simple.

I’ve been fortunate to spend quite a bit of time with the Murray family. They’ve had me speak at their sales meetings. I’ve played golf with Pat at Pinehurst. My colleague Pat Elliott and I almost always dine at Murray’s on our trips to visit daughter Tina Brandt, who now runs Service Ideas. We know Joyce and all the kids. We know how much they will miss their husband and father. We will too.

But when one thinks about what most of us try to do in our lives, to raise good kids, to work to give them a decent life, to pass on some core values, I think we’ll all agree that Pat Murray was a very successful man, indeed. Peace to all.


Robin Ashton