Together the co-founders have implemented and led the casual dining segment by innovating and pioneering an evolution of high service and high quality product and by establishing an organization founded on a culture that keeps its people, the customer and the community a priority. 

JOHN

COOPER

PARTNER 

brings 40 years of full service restaurant experience and has led various restaurant businesses at an executive level for the past 24 years. John most recently served as President of Bonefish Grill, Inc.. Prior to that he was the President of Zazarac Restaurant, Inc. and an equity Partner with Outback Steakhouse having developed and operated 13 restaurants. He plays a vital role in overall strategic and operational direction of the company.  

TRUDY

COOPER

PARTNER

has been in the industry for more than 40 years. She began a lifelong dedication to people and the industry as she joined Bennigan's leading and organizing training teams during a period of high expansion. After her time there, she joined forces with Bob Basham and Chris Sullivan who together developed, opened & operated 18 Chili's restaurants. The team along with Tim Gannon went on to found the first Outback here in Tampa, Fl. As co-founder and Senior VP for Outback, Trudy has extensive experience in operations, marketing, and brand design. 

 

CHRIS

ARREOLA

PARTNER 

started his career 20 years ago as a "Bloomin" onion cook with Outback Steakhouse to gain experience prior to attending culinary school. While never making it to culinary school, Chris quickly advanced through the kitchen to become a Food Tech for the North Florida area as well as a back of the house new store opening coordinator where he was responsible for opening over 75 restaurants. Soon after Chris decided to join Outback Intl. Where he was responsible for the development of Outback Steakhouse in 22 different countries. This led Chris to becoming a Managing Partner in Libson, Portugal. Chris was given the opportunity to join Bonefish Grill, Inc. where he spent the last 14 years as a VP of Training and Development helping to expand the concept to over 208 locations.

 

CHRIS

PONTE

EXECUTIVE CHEF & PARTNER 

with much experience and training behind him, Ponte began investigating opportunities to create his own culinary legacy. When he began looking for a geographical locale to open his first restaurant, his fondness for Florida and his West Coast connections led him to the Tampa Bay area where he opened Cafe Ponte in 2002. Ponte has brought with him exceptional dished ranging from Asian to Italian with lessons from classic European cuisine, all with spectacular presentation and great taste. 

MICHELLE
 

PONTE

PARTNER 

has a background in marketing and sales. Her sucessful entrepreneurial venture in retail sales has been foundational to her contribution to the success of Cafe Ponte. Michelle has been instrumental in developing and executing the marketing strategy of Cafe Ponte and On Swann. Through her example and positive leadership both Chris and Michelle impact the lives of many they have touched over years in the business. Michelle has led countless community and charitable efforts with the blessings of Cafe Ponte to contribute meaningfully to the community. 


Photography by R. Archambault