Craig Hofman

Hofman Hospitality Group President Craig Hofman

Hofman Hospitality Group President Craig Hofman has been in the restaurant business since the day he was born. This month, his long career is being recognized as he is named the 2013 City National Bank Entrepreneur of the Year.

According to the Long Beach Area Chamber of Commerce, Hofman will receive the award at an event and luncheon starting at 10:30 a.m. on Thursday, April 11, at the Hyatt Regency Long Beach.

“I was pretty excited to get the award, coming from my hometown,” Hofman, 61, said.

Hofman’s parents, Harold and Donna, started a burger stand in the 1940s in Long Beach. From there, the business grew, and Craig Hofman was born the same day his mother waited on the first customers at the family’s original Hof’s Hut on Sept. 16, 1951.

Hofman — who later studied business management at California State University, Long Beach — was just 12 years old when he took on his first real job at the restaurant as a soda jerk.

“I worked the soda fountain and made malts and flavored Cokes,” he recalled, adding that now his four children (aged between 26 and 35 years old) are employees at the company, carrying on a legacy that his father established almost 70 years ago.

Hofman Hospitality Group has grown to include four Hof’s Hut locations in Los Angeles and Orange counties as well as a network of five Hof’s Hut and 16 Lucille’s Smokehouse Bar-B-Que restaurants in California, Arizona and Nevada. More restaurant openings are planned soon, and Hofman recently announced that the company is the first franchisee of SPIN! Neapolitan Pizza.

Hofman speculated that he was chosen for the award because of the success of Hofman Hospitality Group and its expansion from one brand to another. He added that he is looking for a location in Long Beach to open a SPIN! Neapolitan Pizza.

“Yes, we’ve been successful, and I’d like to think because it’s our commitment to quality of service and quality of our food,” he said. “We are every day trying to improve and be the best we can be.”

The businessman added that he isn’t ready to retire anytime soon. Working with his wife and children out of the corporate office in Signal Hill keeps him excited about doing the “day-to-day” stuff at Hofman Hospitality Group.

Tickets are $45 per person, or group rates are available. To purchase tickets, visit www.lbchamber.com/eoty or call 432-7830.

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