|Thompson Hospitality, L.P. was founded on October 2, 1992, when Warren M. Thompson, President and Chairman, purchased 31 Bob’s Big Boy restaurants from Marriott Corporation. Forming his own food service company was the realization of a childhood dream for Thompson, who was born and raised in Windsor, Virginia.
Warren Thompson learned at an early age the importance of hard work, focus and determination. He started his business career with a grass-cutting business at age 14, graduated to delivering and selling produce out of an old school bus at age 15, and, in his first leveraged buy-out at the ripe old age of 16, purchased the family hog-raising business from his father. After obtaining an MBA in 1983, Thompson began working in the hospitality industry. He remained for nearly 10 years until he formed his own company.
His parents, both educators, stressed the importance of education. As a result, the proceeds from the hog-raising business helped finance the education he received at Hampden-Sydney College, where he obtained a Bachelor of Arts degree in managerial economics in 1981.
Starting with a $100,000 personal investment, Warren Thompson pursued his vision by obtaining an additional $1.9 million in venture capital and $13.1 million in financing. Thompson then owned 56.4% of the newly-created Thompson Hospitality, LP and the remaining 43.6% was owned by limited partners.
With the purchase of 31 Bob’s Big Boy restaurants Thompson Hospitality was in business! The company began converting some of its Bob’s Big Boy restaurants to Shoney’s; and sold the unprofitable units to reduce debt. Thompson Hospitality continued to operate some of the existing franchised units for over 8 years. Additonally, the Company created and implemented proprietary restaurant concepts: America’s Best Diner, and T.J.’s Roadhouse Grill and Saloon.
The first concept created by the company, in December 1995, was America’s Best Diner, capitalizing on the demand for “comfort foods” as evidenced by the success of such operations as Silver Diner. Thompson Hospitality converted a Bob’s Big Boy restaurant in Arlington, Virginia.
Thompson Hospitality discovered quickly that developing concepts is far more involved than being a franchisee: menu and recipe development are just two of the responsibilities that a franchisee does not have. Thus, what began as purely a franchise operation evolved into a combination of franchised restaurants and proprietary brands.
In addition to the Shoney’s, Thompson Hospitality has continued to develop in-house restaurant concepts. The company has developed and operates, Obi Sushi, a Japanese restaurant in Reston, Virginia.
Even more significant to Thompson Hospitality’s growth than the creation of proprietary restaurants, was its entry into the contract food service arena. The company was awarded its first contract in November, 1993. Within a year, the Company was operating 13 contract accounts.
Despite operating several successful contract accounts since 1993, the company entered the contract food service “big leagues” in August 1995, when Morgan State University selected Thompson Hospitality as its provider of choice. The University relied on Thompson Hospitality, awarding an interim contract in August 1995 after terminating its contract with a competitor in year four of a five-year agreement. During the ensuing bid process one year later, the Company was awarded an eight-year contract based upon Thompson Hospitality’s ability to deliver upon its commitments. In 2004, Thompson Hospitality was again awarded Morgan State’s business for an additional ten years. Under Thompson Hospitality’s management, the foodservice program at Morgan State now exceeds $5M in annual revenue.
Today, with approximately 2,500 employees, Thompson Hospitality is one of the largest minority owned businesses in the United States and the largest minority owned foodservice Company in the world. From 1994 through 2006, Thompson Hospitality has been recognized by Black Enterprise Magazine as one of the country’s top 100 minority businesses in total revenue. Most recently, Thompson Hospitality was ranked #22 among its “BE 100” list.
Service to Virginia and other Communities
Thompson Hospitality possesses a strong commitment to being a good corporate citizen, as evidenced by its high level of community service. Thompson Hospitality also funds a yearly scholarship at each school where it provides contract food services.
In 1998, Thompson Hospitality conducted its first internship program at its headquarters; the program continues to this day. High school and college students are afforded the opportunity to learn “the business of business” in general, and the food service business in particular.
The culmination of the program for each intern was the preparation of a special project in an area of interest, and the presentation of that project to the Vice Presidents of the company.
1992 --> Founded as a restaurant company.
1993 --> Enters contract food service arena.
1994 --> Develops first proprietary restaurant concept.
1995 --> Transitions from restaurant focus to contract food service.
1997 --> Joint Venture partnership formed with Compass Group USA.
2001 --> Named "Top 10" Growth Company by Black Enterprise magazine.
2002 --> Top the $100 Million Sales level
2003 --> Acquired Campus Chefs, our 1st Acquisition
2004 --> Opened Obi Sushi, a Japanese Restaurant
2005 --> Opened Car Wash
2005 --> Consulting Division opened The Essential Grille
Today, Thompson Hospitality Corporation, along with its subsidiary, Thompson Hospitality Services, is among the nation's largest minority-owned businesses employing over 2500 associates, operating in 40 states and 4 foreign countries with annual revenue exceeding $150M.