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March 15, 2010

Mark Dougherty Named 2010 Restaurateur of the Year

Mark Dougherty, owner and operator of Mark’s East Side in Appleton, was recently named Restaurateur of the Year by the Wisconsin Restaurant Association.  The Restaurateur of the Year is the industry’s top honor and is given to only one restaurant operator each year.  Dougherty was announced as the winner at the Association’s annual Awards Dinner, held at the Grain Exchange in Milwaukee on March 9th in conjunction with the Wisconsin Restaurant Expo. 

Dougherty’s popular Appleton restaurant, Mark’s East Side, has been family owned and operated since 1967 when his father Bill purchased it and called it Chef Bill’s.  The restaurant is well known for their authentic German fare, steaks and daily made-from-scratch specials.  Loyal customers appreciate the attention to detail, friendly service and quality, fresh ingredients.  Customers also look forward to the restaurant’s festive St. Patrick’s Day celebration and special menu.

The Restaurateur of the Year award is given to an operator who demonstrates participation and service to the restaurant association, success within their own restaurant and participation in community activities.  The winner is selected at a private meeting of past Restaurateur of the Year recipients and kept a secret until the official announcement at the Awards Dinner.

Dougherty has worked in foodservice for over 30 years, assuming management responsibilities at Mark’s East Side in 1982 after graduating from UW Oshkosh with a business degree.  In 1987 he took over the restaurant, which was recently named “Best Fish Fry” by Fox Cities Magazine. 

Very supportive of WRA at both the chapter and state levels, Dougherty has held many positions on the chapter board since 1982.  Prior to joining the state board in 1993 he had been a long-time volunteer at the annual Wisconsin Restaurant Expo.  On the state board he chaired many committees and served as Chairman of the Board in 2003.  As Chairman he made an impact with his efficient and informed leadership, combined with his trademark sense of humor. Dougherty traveled to Washington, D.C. several times as part of the Wisconsin delegation for the National Restaurant Association Public Affairs Conference.  He became a leading proponent of the statewide smoking ban which WRA supported and was helpful with the association’s efforts to help shape a smoke free law that leveled the playing field for all businesses.

Dougherty was named Big Four Chapter Outstanding Restaurateur of the Year (OROY) in 1990.  Dougherty and Mark’s East Side manager Rhoda Steffel were presented the WRA Education Foundation’s Restaurateur Award at the 2007 Celebration of Excellence.

Dougherty and fellow Wisconsin Restaurant Association Big Four Chapter members Steve Davis and Mark Landreman were founders of the LEC (Legislative Education Council) Shootout – a sporting clays fundraiser that has proven to be a successful and popular annual event.  He continues to be involved in the Shootout by serving on the event committee and recruiting shooters and sponsors.

A hands-on operator, he still manages to be active in his community and spend quality time with his wife Lori and two sons Will and Riley.

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Since 1933, the Wisconsin Restaurant Association has been dedicated to the promotion, protection and improvement of the foodservice industry.

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Wisconsin Restaurant Association • 2801 Fish Hatchery Rd. • Madison, WI 53713 • Tel: 608.270.9950 • Toll Free: 800.589.3211 • FAX: 608.270.9960