CEO, PARTNER VACA GROUP
WHY: Runs two of OC’s top high-end restaurants, Laguna Beach’s Broadway, Costa Mesa’s Vaca. Third location, The Hall: Global Eatery, a food hall in South Coast Plaza, launched at end of 2019.
RECENT: With Chef Amar Santana, Business Journal’s Restaurateurs of the Year for 2020.
NOTABLE: “We looked at the mall and said, ‘What do they need?’” said Labbate, and “we created two fastcasual concepts,” and a third space “for those who want a full dining experience.”
QUOTABLE: On pandemic’s impact on restaurant industry, says there’s a light at the end of the tunnel, “but I don’t know what that light looks like. I hope things get back to normal, but it will take a while. The consumer’s pattern of consumption has changed.”