Joe Monastero thrives on his lifelong passion for the hospitality industry, using his unique set of skills and personal grit to take on challenges and advocate for Texas’ restaurant industry. After ten years away from the thick of it, working for several higher education companies including in culinary & hospitality education and then international student recruitment, Joe has ‘come home’, taking on the role of Chief Operating Officer of the Texas Restaurant Association (TRA) and Texas Restaurant Foundation (TRF) in 2019. As the second largest private employer in the State, with its more than 50,000 units’ 1.3 million employees generating more than $70 billion in gross revenue pre-COVID, the Texas restaurant industry’s leading source of protection, advocacy, and education is the TRA.
Raised immersed in his family’s 55-year-old Chicago restaurant, Monastero’s Ristorante & Private Dining, till they closed in 2017, Joe intimately knows all areas of the restaurant industry, having become President/General Manager in 2003 and additionally Executive Chef in 2006. He attributes his success and work ethic to the example set by his father and uncle, his keen analytical skills, creativity, and ability to assess problems and create solutions in real time. In 2005, he launched Joseph S. Monastero Private Events, a boutique event-planning firm customizing unique events for upscale clientele, orchestrating social and corporate events around the world, including a wedding set on a national reality television show. He donated his services and personally designed, planned and executed the 2007 Out & Open Gala to inaugurate the new Center on Halsted, Chicago’s first LGBT Community Center. The event raised over $1.5 million to create the Center’s endowment.
In 2010, he joined Kendall College’s Events Marketing Department and became an Adjunct Chef Instructor for the School of Culinary Arts. Kendall provided Joe an outlet to engage the next generation of culinary and hospitality professionals, passing on his knowledge and experience in restaurants, catering and event planning. In 2013, when Joe assumed the role of Director of Strategic Initiatives & Partnerships, and later as Director of Strategy & Global Development, he worked with Kendall’s President to create new opportunities for students and bring together industry partners to enhance the school and its educational experiences.
Along with Kendall’s President, Joe established Laureate Hospitality Business Education in 2014 as the group’s Director of Global Marketing & Business Development, creating innovative training solutions for corporate, government, and organizational clients, ranging from Marriott Corporate to the government of the Republic of Kazakhstan. In 2015, Joe took on a broader role as the Executive Director of Global Enrollment Strategy for Laureate Hospitality Education, working to ensure execution of enrollment and brand positioning strategies for the premium hospitality institutions of Laureate International Universities®. Joe oversaw the establishment of Les Roches Chicago, the first foreign higher education institution branch campus in the United States, which opened in August 2016.
In fall of 2016, Joe joined Study Group, serving first as the Global Head of Marketing for the Higher Education North America division to promote 15 university partners, building their brands globally and positioning Study Group as a leader in North America’s evolving pathway market. Then, as Vice-President of Partnerships, Higher Education North America, he managed each of the company’s client relationships and acted as interim Co-Managing Director for Higher Education North America until leaving the company to join the Texas Restaurant Association.
Joe is currently a Trustee for the Catering Executives Club of America Board after serving as Chairman and two terms as President, is Chairman of the Chicago Sister Cities International Milan Committee and a member of the Chicago Sister Cities International Committee of Chairs. Joe also sits on several boards, including the Sicilian American Cultural Association, the Scuola Italiana Enrico Fermi, Chicago’s first Italian bi-lingual elementary school, and is a member of Les Amis d’ Escoffier Society. In 2019, the Republic of Italy recognized his many years of dedicated service to the country and Italian-American community with an order of knighthood, Cavaliere dal Ordine Stella D’Italia (OSI).
Joe lives in Austin and holds a Bachelor’s in Business Administration (B.B.A.) from Loyola University Chicago with majors in both Marketing and International Business, and an Executive MBA in Global Leadership from Walden University.