First Watch CEO Earns Gold Plate Award

Chris Tomasso worked his way up at the brand, starting out as chief marketing officer in 2006.

IFMA
Winner of the IFMA 2024 Gold Plate Award, Chris Tomasso, president and CEO of First Watch Restaurant Group with his wife, Melissa Tomasso.

The International Foodservice Manufacturers Association held its annual Gold & Silver Plate Awards Celebration this past Saturday and Chris Tomasso, president and CEO of First Watch Restaurant Group, earned the 2024 Gold Plate Award.

Tomasso was nominated in the “Chain, Full Service” category by Ecolab, Rich Products Corp., and Royal Cup Coffee & Tea and selected from the nine honorees who took home 2024 Silver Plate Awards. The awards recognize industry excellence.

Tomasso was named CEO of First Watch Restaurants in 2018, after serving as president since 2015 and chief marketing officer from 2006 to 2015. Prior to joining First Watch, Tomasso led strategic branding and marketing for national and international brands such as Cracker Barrel and Hard Rock Cafe Int’l.

Tomasso was introduced at the awards ceremony by chairman of the First Watch Restaurant Group Ralph Alvarez. “I first met Chris in 2017 when with a private equity firm, we were looking to acquire First Watch,” he says in the release. “It was an easy decision after that meeting; you invest in people, not just businesses, and I felt with Chris and Ken Pendery (late co-founder of First Watch) that we had the right leaders to run the business.”

In accepting the Gold Plate, Tomasso says, “I ended up in the restaurant industry and it got in my blood. Everybody in this room knows that once it’s in your blood, it’s in your blood. I love what I do every day and I consider myself to be so lucky to lead this great company.”

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