Hart School of Hospitality, Sport and Recreation Management

JMU Alumnus and Benefactor GJ Hart Wins Foodservice Industry Award

by Karen Doss Bowman

GJ Hart wins the Silver Plate Award - 2017

SUMMARY: JMU alumnus GJ Hart, who gave $3 million in 2015 to name the Hart School of Hospitality, Sport and Recreation Management, has received a 2017 Silver Plate Award from the International Foodservice Manufacturers Association.

G.J. Hart, executive chairman and chief executive officer of California Pizza Kitchen (CPK), has received the 2017 Silver Plate Award in the “Chain Full Service” category from the International Foodservice Manufacturers Association (IFMA). Hart, a JMU alumnus (pictured above, second from right), was recognized for his leadership and vision at the 32-year-old restaurant brand.  

The annual IFMA Gold and Silver Plate Awards, presented in May, recognize the nation’s top foodservice operators. Silver Plate winners are nominated by IFMA members and industry leaders, and selected by a panel that includes national trade press, foodservice experts, and past Gold and Silver Plate winners.                        

Since joining CPK in August 2011, Hart has guided the 32-year-old restaurant brand through comprehensive changes designed to boost sales and customer loyalty, including a transformation of menu offerings to include globally inspired entrees and seasonal selections. Hart has been recognized for turning around a declining brand through his innovative leadership style, characterized by his commitment to establishing a collaborative corporate culture that thrives on employee engagement. Since late 2016, CPK has achieved an average of $633 million annual sales and an average of 11.5 million pizzas served each day. The company, which has nearly 300 restaurants in 16 countries, employs around 14,000 people. 

GJ Hart wins the 2017 Silver Plate AwardHart also is known for his commitment to philanthropy. Under his leadership, CPK has established the Inspired Acts community restoration and renewal program and the Kindness Fund, supported by employees to provide financial assistance to fellow employees who experience personal crises resulting in financial emergencies. He and his wife, Heather, gave $3 million to JMU in 2015 to name the Hart School of Hospitality, Sport and Recreation Management.  

“On behalf of the Hart School, I extend heartfelt congratulations to G.J. Hart for this honor,” says Michael J. O'Fallon, director and J.W. and Alice S. Marriott Foundation Professor of the Hart School of Hospitality, Sport and Recreation Management. “The financial support G.J. and Heather have given to our school has made a significant impact on many of our students over the past two years. Thanks to G.J and Heather, our students now have the ability to travel to conferences and tradeshows, and have other experiential learning opportunities that enhance their understanding of the hospitality, sport and recreation industries. These unique experiences and opportunities, in combination with excellent classroom instruction, give Hart School students a distinct advantage making them more marketable to industry professionals.”

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Published: Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Last Updated: Wednesday, January 2, 2019

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