Publico Kitchen & Tap has been brought to you by the outstanding talents of three leading restauranteurs, Robert McCarthy, Michael Duganier, and Stan Panos. With their long and diverse careers in the hospitality industry and even the design and construction fields, they have the right combination of experience and expertise to deliver dynamic food, beverage & entertainment in a creative & unique atmosphere.
Mr. McCarthy’s long and distinguished career began as a busboy/dishwasher at a family-owned restaurant and bar on the Upper East Side of Manhattan in 1977. In 1978 Mr. McCarthy made his first foray in to business ownership by opening a retail business as purveyor of fine wines and liquors on New York’s Upper West Side. Following a 5-year stint of owning the business and with his lease expiring, Mr. McCarthy determined he wanted to learn the corporate restaurant business from the ground up.
In 1983, Mr. McCarthy joined the El Torito restaurant group as a bartender, quickly working his way up the ranks from assistant manager to General Manager. In 1986, Mr. McCarthy left New York for Florida, where he joined the largest and most successful nightclub company in the USA, McFaddin Ventures. While in training at the corporate office in Houston, Mr. McCarthy was asked to remain in Houston. During his time there, Mr. McCarthy was involved in numerous successful nightclub concepts. He was also involved in training senior management from Duskin Foods in Japan, who had recently franchised a nightclub concept. Mr. McCarthy then helped design, create, open and operate a new nightclub in Houston that became very successful and was a growth vehicle for the company.
Mr. McCarthy then left Houston to open and operate clubs in Minneapolis and Atlanta. While in Atlanta in 1989, Mr. McCarthy was recruited to join the Walt Disney Company in Orlando. Mr. McCarthy oversaw the operation of high-volume restaurant concepts in the Resort Division for WDW. His successful nightclub background became valuable when he was asked to join a special team to re-concept and re-brand Disney’s nighttime entertainment complex, Pleasure Island, which was failing. For the next 3 years, Mr. McCarthy and his team successfully reconceived Pleasure Island and turned it into what Michael Eisner (Disney Chairman) called a “shining example of what the Disney company was all about."
Restless after the success at Pleasure Island, Mr. McCarthy decided to pursue new challenges and left Disney to head up operations for a company developing mall-based entertainment complexes, “America Live!” These complexes ranged in size from 45,000 sq. ft. to 78,000 sq. ft., encompassing multiple restaurant and nightclub entertainment options with volume of up to $28 million.
As America Live! was preparing to be purchased by Jillian’s Entertainment, Mr. McCarthy was approached by a former co-worker at Disney to head-up a food and beverage division for a large real estate development company, Turnberry Associates. One project was a brand new Hilton Hotel in Nashville. Mr. McCarthy decided to put a new sports restaurant in the hotel branded by the Pro-Bowl running back for the NFL Tennessee Titans, Eddie George. This restaurant proved to be very successful and profitable, leading to a long relationship with Mr. George.
In 2005, Mr. McCarthy was one of three founding partners of a restaurant company focused on creating athlete-branded, casual sports restaurants. These restaurants included EDDIE GEORGE’S GRILLE 27 in Columbus, OH, and JEROME BETTIS GRILLE 36 in Pittsburgh, PA. The success of these restaurants lead to their company (g3) to be approved by the NFL as the first restaurant company to co-brand with them and represent their $10 billion product. The first two locations opened in 2011, the Indianapolis Colts Grille and the Houston Texans Grille. Mr. McCarthy currently resides in the Fort Lauderdale, FL area.
Mr. Duganier began his restaurant career as a dishwasher/busboy at a family-owned restaurant and bar in Western New York called Alex’s Place. In 1998 Mr. Duganier attended the Pennsylvania Culinary Institute, graduating salutatorian of his class with a degree in Hospitality Management with a 3.93 GPA.
After graduation Mr. Duganier was recruited by the Gaylord Entertainment Co. to join their food and beverage team at the Opryland Hotel and Resort in Nashville, TN. Here Mr. Duganier was in charge of the largest beverage/alcohol account in the south east of America. After achieving success at the Opryland Resort, Mr. Duganier decided to pursue new challenges and to learn the restaurant business from entrepreneurial operators where he knew his scope of responsibilities would be broader and more challenging.
After first joining RDG Restaurant Group out of Chicago and opening their fresh seafood restaurant in Destin, FL, Mr. Duganier was the first person hired by a new start-up restaurant company focused on opening higher-end casual, athlete-branded sports restaurants (g3). Mr. Duganier quickly rose through the ranks from assistant manager, general manager, and area manager to director of operations. Mr. Duganier played a key role in developing the concept and establishing strong relationships with athletes and the NFL.
Mr. Duganier has successfully overseen all aspects of the restaurant business, including but not limited to financials, marketing and advertising, menu development, management development, and event/banquet sales. Mr. Duganier currently resides in Atlanta, GA and you can expect to see him each time you visit Publico ATL.
Mr. Panos has a long, diverse career in both the food and beverage industry and home design and construction. Mr. Panos’s career began in the construction industry in Little Rock, AR in 1975. Soon after, Mr. Panos decided to pursue his passion for the restaurant industry. He began as an oyster shucker and quickly was promoted to manager.
With success, Mr. Panos decided to pursue a 20 year career which included stints in hotels, restaurants and nightclubs. Mr. Panos oversaw all aspects of restaurant operations in high-volume operations throughout the Gulf Coast and Southwest. He has been a kitchen manager, maître d’, general manager, nightclub manager, and more. All of these diverse experiences lead him to join the Walt Disney Company in 1990, where he participated in the successful re-conception and re-branding of Disney’s Pleasure Island. After a successful stint at Pleasure Island, Mr. Panos oversaw banquet operations at the Walt Disney Contemporary Resort. Following his marriage in 1992, Mr. Panos left Disney in 1993 and began a new career learning and selling restaurant equipment.
With the birth of his twin sons in 1998, Mr. Panos returned to the construction business. After first running a construction placement company, Mr. Panos committed his time and energies to his children and family and became a stay-at-home dad, raising his three sons.
When his sons were old enough to begin attending school, Mr. Panos began working as a skilled carpenter for a Florida homebuilder, leading to Mr. Panos starting his own home building/remodeling company. In 2014 Mr. Panos decided to return to his first love, the restaurant business and along with his friend of 25 years, he and Mike Duganier began All In Restaurant Group. Mr. Panos currently resides in Columbia, SC.