Frank Bonanno’s award-winning restaurants and reputation as a chef, restaurateur, and mentor reflect his food-centered upbringing and commitment to culinary excellence.
“I had a great childhood,” says Frank Bonanno. “Most of who I am today was shaped by food experiences—in restaurants, at home, with family and friends. I think I could trace every great happiness in my life to a correlating meal.” The aroma of pastries and pastas from his Sicilian grandmother permeated Bonanno’s New Jersey home, where he and his mother experimented to Julia Child and The Galloping Gourmet piped in to a tiny kitchen television. Weekends, his parents would take him to New York City, where they’d explore wildly diverse restaurants, and Frank honed not only a deep appreciation for satisfying meals, but service to match.
Ultimately, Frank graduated from the University of Denver School of Finance, an education he followed up with a second degree in Culinary Arts from the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, NY.
Frank Bonanno’s restaurants have become the most fertile training grounds for upcoming restaurateurs and chefs in the western United States. Since Mizuna’s inception in 2001, thirteen of our restaurant family members have gone directly from an experience working alongside Frank to opening a restaurant of their own.
Frank gives site chefs the freedom to explore ingredients, to participate in menu items, and to creatively work toward rendering the exotic into the familiar. Frank’s front of house operations reflect that balance of creative collaboration and professionalism, working together to create Bonanno Concepts, a chef driven family dedicated to satisfying meals, outstanding service, education, and community.
Emily Schwartz is the Bonanno Concepts Director of Operations. She graduated from Colorado State University with a focus on Business Marketing, but it turns out nuts and bolts are her thing, because Emily is a systems nerd. She choreographs the structures that keep our businesses running. Some mornings she’s knee deep in ink cartridges, other days she’s fielding meetings with Eat Denver or working toward structuring new venues–but every day she is the invisible force that maintains our strength. May The Schwartz be with you.
Nick Gray is a Colorado Native. That means something in these parts. A graduate of the University of Colorado Leeds School of Business, Nick is the Bonanno President & Financial Director. He runs all finance and accounting operations across the Bonanno Concepts family, and seeks out new businesses and new business opportunities. Nick is also in charge of office snacks. He is an athlete and a gentleman.
Liza Zimmerman is our Director of Sales & Partnerships. Liza comes to us from Miami of Ohio by way of Aspen, and we’ve discovered that if you bring Liza a pie, she’s your friend for life (not just any pie, she shouts from across the room “Peanut Butter!”). She is a creative perfectionist and you’d be lucky to have her tackle your event.
Adam Hodak is co-owner of Green Russell and Beverage Director of Bonanno Concepts. Adam provides ongoing spirits education to some 300 team members, creates seasonal drinks menus for each restaurant, and competes in local and national bar competitions. Adam has a deep knowledge of cocktail history, bar haunts, beers, local producers, geography, politics, chess, and Monopoly.
Erika Jensen is our Front of House Director, in charge of developing the happy, motivated teams that make us look so darn good. She oversees manager hiring and training, and in a nutshell, you could say that Erika’s the boss of the bosses. Or just The Boss.