The Collins School of Hospitality Management
Class of '01, Hotel and Restaurant Management
The Cellar Restaurant
Restaurateur Ryan Dudley's early culinary experiences were not gastronomic delights, but were fairly standard for children in Southern California —hot dogs, baked beans, and macaroni and cheese. Raised mostly in Fullerton by his father, Dudley's first job in the restaurant business was standard for California teens. At the age of 15, he began working for Paul Codispotti at Giovanni's Pizza.
“I worked for Paul for six years, starting as a dishwasher and working my way up,” he says. “I often think I learned more about running a restaurant from Paul than anyone else.”
By the time Dudley enrolled at Fullerton College , his career path was long decided. He would one day own his own restaurant. After obtaining his associate's degree from Fullerton College , he enrolled in Cal Poly Pomona's hospitality management program. Memorable university moments included having the opportunity to cook for Julia Childs, when she was on campus to receive an honorary doctorate in 2000, and working alongside some of the world's greatest chefs prior to the 2000 Harvest Auction. During his senior year, his fellow students honored him with the prestigious Richard A. and Nancy Murbach Endowment Scholarship in Free Enterprise, which is awarded quarterly to an outstanding student in catering management.
“It was a great honor,” says Dudley , “especially because it was awarded by my peers.”
Upon graduation, he was hired into Lawry's Restaurant's management training program. After working in Beverly Hills and at Five Crowns in Newport Beach , he was named general manager of Lawry's Carvery in 2002. By 2004, Dudley bought The Cellar Restaurant in Fullerton , one of the top establishments in Orange County . Since 1969, The Cellar has been lauded for serving only the freshest and best French cuisine. Dudley has continued the tradition of excellence, and restaurant publications compliment his ability to bring a fresh approach while still maintaining a European aura of excellence.
“We have an incredible management team in place,” he says. “This restaurant is a dream come true for me.”
Since becoming proprietor, Dudley has established medical benefits for his staff, broken the restaurant's all-time sales numbers after the first year, and then proceeded to double his sales volume in two years. In 2006, The Cellar was honored with the AAA Four Diamond Award, the Wine Spectators Grand Award and Restaurant of the Year.
Dudley is director and board member of the Fullerton Chamber of Commerce and is the honorary co-chair of the 2007 Toast to Learning Wine Auction. He has donated food and money to the Fullerton police and fire associations, the Fullerton Museum , the Boys and Girls Club, and the YMCA. Dudley has also established scholarships for students from the elementary to the university level. At Cal Poly Pomona, he participates in The Collins School recruitment fairs, mentors and hires students from the hospitality program and will be a professor for a day in 2007.
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