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Fast-rising restaurant exec receives prestigious honor from alma mater

Dan Stone, COO of Front Burner Brands and a Business Observer 40 Under 40 honoree, has been lauded by Penn State University.

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Dan Stone, a Business Observer 40 Under 40 honoree in 2014, has received one of the top awards given to alumni by his alma mater, Penn State University.

A longtime executive with Front Burner Brands — the company that operates restaurant concepts such as The Melting Pot and Oronzo, a new fast-casual Italian eatery developed by Dan Bavaro, another Business Observer 40 Under 40 honoree — Stone was one of just three recipients of the Penn State Hotel & Restaurant Society’s Alumni Industry Achievement Award. He’s the second-youngest Penn State alumnus to receive the honor, which, according to a news release, recognizes graduates who have shown “consistent career progression and leadership” in the hospitality industry.

Stone graduated from Penn State in 1999 with a degree in hotel, restaurant and institutional management. He returned to campus Oct. 13 to receive the award and, as part of the society’s Alumni in the Classroom program, he has agreed to teach several hospitality courses. Class topics, the release states, will include legal issues, strategic management, human resource management and entrepreneurship in the hospitality industry.

“We are very pleased to announce this recognition of Dan’s achievements and his continued inspiration of our industry’s future leaders,” Front Burner Brands board chairman and CEO Bob Johnston states in the release. “It’s important to note that Dan did not pursue this award but was independently selected by the Hotel & Restaurant Society.”

Currently serving as the company’s chief operating and development officer, Stone joined Front Burner Brands in 2006. He also boasts experience in the hotel industry, having served as assistant general manager and director of human resources for Winegardner & Hammons, a hotel management company, prior to being hired at Front Burner Brands.

In addition to his degree from Penn State, Stone received certified franchise executive certification from the International Franchise Association in 2010 and a leadership certificate from Cornell University in 2019. Stone has served on the board of directors of the Blossom Montessori School for the Deaf in Clearwater since 2008.

“I’m humbled and thrilled by this award. I’ve always been proud of the education I received at Penn State, which has one of the nation’s top hospitality programs,” Stone states in the release. “So, to have them not only recognize my achievements but also allow me to give back is a great honor.”


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