Chief Executive Officer
Snooze, AM Eatery
Industry: Restaurants/ Hospitality
David Birzon’s love for the food industry began in 1989 when he started as an evening prep cook and baker at Paradise Bakery in Aspen, Colorado. “I was surprised to find extraordinary joy in my position, serving up homemade ice cream and cookies to Aspen locals,” said Birzon.
While working closely with the bakery’s owners, Birzon helped build the nationally-known brand that proudly grew a strong collaborative culture and industry leading results and economics during his 23-year tenure. “After successfully selling Paradise Bakery to Panera Bread in 2007, I spent four years as a senior vice president at Panera and as president of the Paradise Bakery brand, where I was responsible for both company and franchised locations,” he said.
However, when he heard about an innovative breakfast concept named Snooze, he was immediately blown away by how differentiated and clever the concept was from anything he had seen before and knew he had to be part of its operations. By 2012, he had become the CEO of Snooze. Under Birzon’s leadership, Snooze has grown to more than 42 restaurants across six states with 1,800 employees.
Birzon now leads one of the most successful and recognized brands in the hospitality industry today. According to his colleagues, his specialty is working with founders through private equity transactions and using size and scale to make companies and their cultures more refined and evolved.
David is a self-described "culture guy" who has only worked at two different companies in 31 years, leading both through successful private equity transactions after building them past the $100M revenue mark.
More importantly, Birzon believes his most successful contribution to his industry are the many individuals he has mentored with his own experiences and reflections. They now hold senior leadership and C-level positions at other businesses.
“One of the ways we plan to remain influential in our industry is to lead and teach,” he said. “If you do both of those things every day, you’ll learn every day.”
Birzon’s commitment to systematic improvement through learning has certainly led to success in the hospitality industry and recognition nationwide. Snooze was named a Colorado Environmental Gold Leader from 2011-2019 and was also recognized as a “Breakout Brand” and one of the “50 Fastest Growing Companies.” Birzon has been honored with keynote speaker positions and was named the Entrepreneur of the Year Winner in 2018.
He believes strongly that putting people first significantly and positively impacts decision making. “If you put money first in a decision-making process, you’ll likely get it wrong,” he said. Putting people first profoundly changes the dynamic and you will get it right every time.
For getting it right throughout his career in the hospitality industry, Birzon has been named a Titan of industry.
Leadership lesson learned:
If you put money first in a decision-making process, you'll likely get it wrong. If you put people first, you'll likely get it right
Everything will be good in the end.
If things are not good, it's not the end.
David considers himself to be an excellent hula-hooper and keeps a professional hula hoop on the wall of his office in case anyone wants to challenge this claim. He is known to bust out the "hoop" at employee events and parties.