Tim McEnery, founder and CEO, Cooper’s Hawk Winery & Restaurants

Retail and Consumer Products – Finalist

Tim McEnery always knew he wanted to be a restaurateur. Starting out in hospitality at the age of 11 as a dishwasher, he worked his way through the ranks to become a manager by high school.

After receiving a bachelor’s degree in restaurant and hotel management from Purdue University, McEnery was hired as a general manager of Green Gardens Country Club in the southern suburbs of Chicago. However, at the age of 21, he quickly found himself succeeding at what people twice his age aimed to do.

Then, after attending a wine tasting, McEnery spotted an opportunity when he discovered few wineries had restaurants. In 2005, he opened the first Cooper’s Hawk Winery & Restaurant and has expanded to eight locations with three to four additional units scheduled to open in 2012.

McEnery attributes much of his success to the Cooper’s Hawk Wine Club, a point-based loyalty program combined with a monthly wine club. He even hired an internal technology team to design proprietary software to manage the club.

McEnery also understands his employees need to be knowledgeable, so he created a wine training program. The program includes daily pre-service tasting sessions and daylong education courses. After completing the courses, Cooper’s Hawk helps employees prepare for the Introductory Sommelier Course held by the Court of Master Sommeliers.

Cooper’s Hawk is also involved in the community and has developed the Cooper’s Hawk Cares program that donates to various nonprofit organizations. McEnery hosts a Wine Club Golf Outing each year to support Chicagoland’s Keep on Keeping On Foundation, a nonprofit dedicated to assisting the local special needs community. The outing has raised more than $50,000 for the organization in three years.

How to reach: Cooper’s Hawk Winery & Restaurants, www.coopershawkwinery.com