The Texas Restaurant Association (TRA) announced the appointment of Joe Monastero to Chief Strategy and Operations Officer. TRA represents the state’s $70 billion restaurant industry with more than 50,000 locations and 1.4 million jobs across the state. After consulting with the Association across a number of projects, including crisis management during the COVID-19 pandemic, Monastero brings decades of expertise in the restaurant industry and international business experience to the Association’s leadership team.
In this role, Monastero works with the President and CEO to craft the long-term strategy of the organization, leads Membership and Member Engagement, and the efforts of the Texas Restaurant Association Education Foundation (TRAEF), the 501(c)3 not-for-profit workforce development arm of the TRA. He also oversees the conferences and events team responsible for the Association's annual TRA Marketplace, the nation’s second largest foodservice education conference and tradeshow.
“With his drive, determination, and experience, we’re excited to have Joe join the team, and know he will be a huge asset to the TRA and Texas restaurant industry, said Dr. Emily Williams Knight, President and CEO of the Texas Restaurant Association and Education Foundation. “His tenacity to get things done and passion to support restaurants has already had a big impact through the establishment of the TX Restaurant Relief Fund initiative and the $2.2 million raised so far for Texas independent restaurants and their employees.”
Monastero was literally born into the restaurant industry, eldest son of Joe Monastero, Sr., Co-Founder of Monastero’s Ristorante, one of Chicago’s oldest Italian restaurants for 55 years until the family closed their operations in 2017. Monastero grew up immersed in every aspect of the business, becoming President/General Manager in 2003 and additionally Executive Chef in 2006. Later he opened his own full-scale event planning and production company.
Prior to joining the TRA, Monastero spent a decade in various international higher education executive roles including global marketing, business development, strategic planning, and international enrollment management. Monastero formed global strategic partnerships to enhance the student experience, expanding programs and student recruitment internationally across more than 30 countries. He oversaw a key strategic relationship with China Ready & Accredited®, a public-private partnership with the Chinese National Tourism Administration, along with the program’s introduction into the U.S. He also managed the establishment of the first U.S. branch campus location of a foreign university.
“Joining the Texas Restaurant Association and Education Foundation team is like coming home,” said Monastero. “The restaurant industry is in my blood, and there’s no place I feel more energized than around others passionate about hospitality. Restaurants are the backdrop in which we live our lives, and in this unprecedented time it feels good to be able to help and support Texas restaurants. We must do all we can to help them survive this crisis and come back even stronger.”
Monastero is also very active in the community, currently serving as a Board Trustee for the Catering Executives Club of America after serving as Chairman and two terms as President, is the Chairman of the Milan Committee of Chicago Sister Cities International, the Treasurer of the Bel Canto Foundation for Young Opera Singers, and board member of several organizations including the Sicilian American Cultural Association and the Scuola Italiana Enrico Fermi, and a member of Les Amis D’Escoffier Society. In 2015, he was awarded Chef of the Year by the Chicago Chapter of the American Culinary Federation, and in 2019, recognizing his dedication to and long-time support of the Italian community, its culture, and reputation, the Republic of Italy bestowed upon Monastero an order of chivalry, Cavaliere dal Ordine Stella D’Italia (OSI).
About the Texas Restaurant Association
The Texas Restaurant Association was formed in 1937 to serve as the advocate in Texas and the indispensable resource for the foodservice industry. Today, as a leading business association, TRA represents the state’s $70 billion restaurant industry, which is comprised of more than 50,000 locations and a workforce of 1.4 million employees. Along with the Texas Restaurant Association Education Foundation, the Association protects, advances, and educates the growing industry.
About the Texas Restaurant Association Education Foundation
Established in 1994 by the Texas Restaurant Association (TRA), the Texas Restaurant Association Education Foundation (TRAEF) is a 501(c)3 not for profit organization focused on providing the necessary resources to help restaurateurs confront educational and labor challenges with the latest innovations in education, technology, and training. It is the workforce development arm of the TRA.
The Foundation’s mission is to provide educational opportunities to build and maintain a strong professional foodservice workforce in Texas. The organization’s flagship program is Texas ProStart, an industry-based, two-year high school culinary arts and restaurant management curriculum. Texas ProStart is currently in more than 150 Texas high schools, reaching more than 15,000 students annually. The Foundation has partnered with KidsFit to bring students real-world culinary experience and encourage restaurants to offer an expanded menu with options that are child-friendly yet healthy. In collaboration with Feeding Texas, the TRAEF is working to expand training preparation for a variety of populations to find a career in the restaurant industry.