R. J. Melman prepares Lettuce Entertain You for the next generation with virtual restaurant brands
Meet the technology innovators on Nation’s Restaurant News’ 2020 Power List
R.J. Melman is well prepared for the task of leading Lettuce Entertain You Enterprises, or LEYE, into the future. After all, he grew up with the Chicago-based multi-concept group. The 38-year-old son of LEYE founder Richard Melman has been president of the company since 2017 and is pioneering its path into the future.
One example is the recent launch of a delivery-only restaurant brand in partnership with Grubhub and Whole30.
Whole30, a healthy lifestyle brand, is the face of the virtual restaurant, which is currently operating only in Chicago. LEYE is partnering with Grubhub to handle delivery logistics, while Whole30 and LEYE chefs collaborate on a large menu of grain, legumes, and sugar- and dairy-free meals. Entrées such as roasted chicken tikka masala can range in price from $13.95 to $22.95, while side dishes such as cauliflower rice cost $5.95.
The concept operates two ghost kitchens in Chicago with lunch and dinner delivery available Monday through Saturday and dinner delivery on Sunday.
Even with more than 130 restaurants in the LEYE portfolio, R.J. Melman is pushing boundaries and expanding what a restaurant concept can be in 2020.
Working his way up in the family-owned business, he opened 13 restaurant and nightclub concepts with his siblings before taking on the president role. His mandate has been to engage guests and use technology to strengthen the LEYE brand.