Steve Lieber and Gary Rack
Steve Lieber's Bio:
Steve Lieber came aboard Coal Mine Pizza February 1st 2007 as General Manager after meeting with steel entrepreneur Gary Rack and quickly realizing they shared a similar passion for the restaurant industry and expectation for growth and success. Lieber quickly proved himself to be an integral part of the Coal Mine team, and since his introduction he has been instrumental in perfecting the Coal Mine concept, improving customer service and streamlining staff efficiency. His steadfast determination and dedication to team precision has helped him lead Coal Mine to the viable franchise concept that it is today, expediting kitchen turnaround times, boosting annual sales and greatly elevating the overall guest experience.
Born July 1, 1961, Steve Lieber grew up in Brooklyn, NY as he tells it, “with pizza in the blood.” His love for cooking was passed down from his doting Jewish grandmothers, mother and two sisters, all of whom were (and are) great cooks. At a young age he realized he inherited a passion for the culinary arts, and he began his early career working in bagel shops in the Catskill Mountains, later graduating to The Raleigh and The Concord Hotels as a busboy and waiter.
Although Lieber opted to go to Sullivan County Community College, a school known for its solid Hotel and Restaurant Management program, he chose to study chemistry, wanting instead to become a doctor like several family members before him. Before long, Florida Atlantic University in Boca Raton, FL recruited him for their Chemistry program, perpetuating his move to Florida. Ironically, what he soon realized was that there was much chemistry in creating recipes, and his love for cooking never wavered. It didn’t take long for Lieber to recognize his true dream was not to study medicine after all, but to work in kitchens exploring the chemistry of food and ways to perfect it.
Over the years, Lieber established himself working in high volume restaurants that posed many challenges and soon found great success as an Opening General Manager, a position that saw him traveling quite a bit. His father’s lifelong career working for the New York State Health Department made such an impact on Steve that restaurant cleanliness has always been of paramount importance to him. So much so in fact, that he won highly coveted Merit Awards for clean restaurants for Terrace Café and Garden Café at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C.; awards which continue to be a testament to his father’s influence.
Lieber’s efforts at The Cheesecake Factory in Washington, D.C. earned him a prime position as the Opening Team Specialist for The Cheesecake Factory in Boca Raton, FL. Known for his consistency of execution, he built a solid reputation for himself as a seasoned and well-respected Opening GM, and was soon hired as General Manager for Brewzzi’s in Boca Raton, Shore Restaurant & Beach Bar in Delray Beach and Vic & Angelo’s in Palm Beach Gardens.
A self-described “pizza fanatic,” Steve regularly travels the globe to attend conventions and further his knowledge of the industry to perfect techniques and capitalize on the latest in pizza trends. His ultimate goal for Coal Mine? To continue to roll out successful locations in viable markets nationwide, and to have Coal Mine ‘go for the gold’ at the International Pizza Championships in Naples, Italy in 2010.
Lieber currently resides in Deerfield Beach, FL.
Gary Rack's Bio:
Self-made entrepreneur Gary Rack is a family man with a passion for living life to the fullest, enjoying quality time with family and friends along with great wine and exceptional pizza. Rack is also a thoroughly accomplished business leader with a genuine dedication and commitment to empower his employees at the GR Restaurant Management Group, parent company for Coal Mine Pizza, to succeed at all levels.
Founder of US Buildings, one of the North America’s largest manufacturers and marketers of pre-fabricated metal buildings in North America with worldwide distribution, Rack has always attributed his life’s success back to his close-knit family - his wife Videl and twins sons Adam and Anthony, both now age 29.
It’s also why he chooses to run his restaurant, Coal Mine Pizza, very much like a family of its own.
Rack explains, “There is no greater reward than to watch your employees succeed to the point where you’ve bettered their lives, their financial ability and their quality of living. At Coal Mine Pizza, we believe in coaching and training employees to understand that hard work, dedication, integrity and honesty will lead them to the road of financial success, freedom and stability within our company,” he adds.
The idea of starting a coal-oven fired pizza concept first occurred to Rack while vacationing in the South of France with wife Videl in the summer of 2004. During a discussion about post-retirement desires, Gary explained to Videl that his dream was to someday open a restaurant or bar where he could stay close to where the action was.
Videl first laughed at Rack’s desire to start a new business. They had finally reached the point of being freed from all work related commitments. Everything in their lives was running so smoothly. Their sons, both acclaimed attorneys, were now successfully running the family business, enabling the Racks to pursue their passion for traveling the world. Still, there was something about opening a restaurant close to home that Rack couldn’t shake off.
Coal Mine Pizza was later conceptualized in March 2006. The goal was to establish a contemporary, neighborhood family pizza restaurant where Rack could gather with his friends and family to enjoy life’s simplest pleasures - fine wine, great pizza and most importantly the company of each other. Each member of the Rack family collaborated on perfecting the concept. One of the twins thought of the name Coal Mine Pizza, paying homage to the old-school New York coal-fired pizza. Wife Videl then designed the federally registered Coal Mine Pizza logo which has become a regular fixture at the restaurant.
Finding the right spot was the next step. It took nearly a year before Rack and Videl decided on the new Royal Palm Place in Boca Raton. Staying close to their home in east Boca Raton was a top priority. Staffing Coal Mine Pizza became an even harder task; Gary and Videl wanted the perfect staff that they could develop into a family of its own.
The Racks’ passion and knowledge of wine was also integrated into the Coal Mine concept. Gary and Videl, fine wine enthusiasts who have amassed a 5,000 bottle private wine collection, incorporated rare vintages into the Coal Mine Pizza menu which local customers have grown to love.
Today, Coal Mine Pizza has become synonymous with delivering the best pizza in South Florida. The refreshing modern pizza bistro + bar concept has become the place to spot the ‘who’s who’ of Boca Raton from families to young professionals.
Coal Mine Pizza is currently valued at an estimated $2.5 million. Via GR Restaurant Management, LLC Coal Mine Pizza and a new concept launching in Aventura this November, RACKS, will expand locations nationally to Dallas by the end of 2009.
As part of Gary and Videl’s commitment to the local community, Coal Mine Pizza regularly contributes to Hospice by The Sea, SOS Children’s Village, Toys for Tots, and various other cancer awareness and children’s charities. Additionally, they are corporate sponsors of Lynn University Men’s Basketball, as well as of several local elementary, middle and high schools.