Entrepreneur teaches students recipe for business success

Tom Walter, CEO of Chicago-area Tasty Catering.

April 27, 2012

By Tim Belter ’13

Bradley students got a treat recently when Tasty Catering CEO Tom Walter spoke with them about managing successful businesses. Walter came to campus as part of a joint effort between two student groups: the hospitality leadership organization Fresh Slice and the Collegiate Entrepreneurship Organization.

Walter’s presentation, “Leaders are Revered, Managers are Tolerated,” emphasized the importance of creating a great work environment for employees by utilizing employee feedback and making them an important part of running the business. He also spoke to family and consumer sciences and business management classes.

“Employees have to feel valued, so they can value the customer,” said Dr. Kara Wolfe, an FCS professor who teaches a class that Walter visited. “Hospitality companies in particular need to believe in the idea of taking care of the employees who take care of the guests.”

Walter has helped start 29 companies since 1971, when he started the fast food restaurant Tasty Pup, which grew into Tasty Catering. He’s currently involved with nine successful companies, including five that were started from employee-submitted business plans. Crain’s Chicago Business recently named Tasty Catering the second-best place to work in Chicago.

The students also asked Walter questions on topics like leading a diverse workforce, what to look for when hiring and how to be a valuable employee.

“The students really connected with him,” said Dr. Wolfe. “They saw the importance of being a sincere, caring business manager.”