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Landy F. Labadie, 26  

South Florida CEO,  Sept, 2006  by Yeleny Suarez

Current Position: Director of operations, Chispa Restaurants LLC

Background: Born and raised in New Jersey, Labadie graduated from Florida State University in 2003 with a degree in economics. "While in school I worked in every nightclub in Tallahassee, ... from working the door, to VIP manager, to general manager at Sloppy Joe's and Fat Tuesdays," he says. In 2003, Emilio and Gloria Estefan hired Labadie to manage Bongos Cuban Cafe at Bayside Marketplace. Four months later, he left to join Chispa as assignment manager, becoming general manager in 2004, and moving up to director of operations early this year. Labadie is an active volunteer for Amigos for Kids and a member of the Cuban American National Foundation.

The Future: In five to 10 years, Labadie sees himself running Pharmed Group Corp., The ASTRI Group, or another one of Chispa owners' Carlos de Cespedes or Mike Tomas' companies. "There is a possibility of opening up my own, but I am sure they would be a big part of it," he adds.

An Opportunity Grabbed: A friend and politician whose name Labadie would not disclose recommended him to Chispa's owners. "I left Bongos on good terms," he says. "But Chispa was a better opportunity because they were growing.'

The Career that might have been: Labadie interned with financial services firm Morgan Stanley in New Jersey and was offered a job as a financial advisor in Tallahassee at the same time the Estefans made him an offer. "[Restaurant management] was something I loved doing so I just kept on at it," he says.

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