His introduction to the restaurant business came as the beverage and entertainment manager for the Chanhassen Dinner Theatres and the St. James Hotel in Red Wing, Minn. While at the St. James Hotel, Kostroski participated in the restoration of this historic hotel property.
In 1980, Kostroski teamed with Restaurant Resource Group, Inc. (RRG) and helped plan the 1981 opening of the Twin Cities’ first Northern Italian restaurant, Pronto Ristorante. Kostroski also was co-creator of Figlio’s, the Italian bistro that opened in 1984 in the Uptown area of Minneapolis.
Kostroski and partner Robin Getman created InterACT Group, a management, consulting and training firm in 1986. Through InterACT, Kostroski consulted with John Dayton and Stephan Pyles on the 1987 opening of Tejas and Goodfellow’s restaurants in Minneapolis. In 1990, Kostroski became a partner with Routh Street Investments-North (RSI-North), the company in charge of operating the two restaurants. In the fall of 1994, Kostroski again teamed with Dayton and Mark Haugen to form Cuisine Concepts.
Kostroski is a co-owner of Cuisine Concepts, which includes Bar Abilene in Uptown Minneapolis, Tejas at 50th and France in Edina, the Franklin Street Bakery in Minneapolis, and the consulting division of Cuisine Concepts.
In addition to his extensive business experience, Kostroski is active in numerous trade and legislative organizations. He has chaired the Joint Legislative Committee for the Hotel, Resort and Restaurant Association, which sets legislative policy for the hospitality industry in Minnesota. He was a 14-year member of the board and past president of the Minnesota Restaurant Association (MRA), and has chaired the MRA’s Communications, Joint Education and Membership Committees.
Kostroski has served on the board of directors of the Upper Midwest Hospitality Association and is a key contact for the National Restaurant Association.
A highly successful fund-raiser, he has served on the board of directors for Share Our Strength (SOS), a national organization of chefs and restaurateurs that support regional, national and international hunger relief agencies. He has served on the national board of the End Hunger Network, which was founded in 1983 by Jeff Bridges, and has chaired the Minnesota Taste of the Nation, which raised more than $1 million in the initial 10 years for hunger relief. Locally, he has served as a member of the board for the Second Harvest St. Paul Food Bank.
In 1992, Kostroski chaired the Restaurant Committee for the Super Bowl XXVI Task Force, as well as creating and producing the first Taste of the NFL, an annual event that brings top chefs and alumni players from each of the NFL cities to the Super Bowl host city for a fun-filled, food-sampling gala. The 2008 Taste of the NFL will be held Saturday, February 2nd at the Phoenix Convention Center. Proceeds from the 1992 Taste of the NFL topped $90,000. Subsequent Taste of the NFL events have followed each year in the host city at the Super Bowl. To date, in excess of $6 million dollars has been raised for hunger relief through this event. Kostroski also was one of the principals in establishing the “Jam Against Hunger” events at the Mall of America.
Kostroski also has been active in the downtown Minneapolis business community. He is a member of the board of the Greater Minneapolis Convention and Visitor Association (GMCVA), served on the board of the Minneapolis Downtown Council, and served as a member of the Council’s Downtown Marketing Committee. As a member of the latter committee, Kostroski, in 1992, helped create and orchestrate Holidazzle, a series of downtown holiday parades, presented nightly each year during the holiday season.
His success, industry involvement and dedication to the community have brought Kostroski national recognition. In 1992, he was named “Marketer of the Year” by Hospitality Management magazine and “National Retailer of the Month” by Beverage Media magazine. Sullivan College presented Kostroski with the 1993 “Great American Restaurateur Award” given to an “outstanding restaurateur who, through a distinguished career in the industry, has exemplified education to quality food preparations, service and consistency.” In 1996, he was named “Business Person of the Year” by the Edina Chamber of Commerce and was selected for a national Distinguished Service Award by Foodchain, a network of hunger relief programs in the United States and Canada. In 1997, Ernst & Young honored Kostroski with the “Entrepreneur of the Year” award in the Socially Responsible category. In 1999, he received America’s Second Harvest Hunger’s Hope Award. In 2002, he received the Pope John XXIII Humanitarian Award from Viterbo University, La Crosse, Wis. That same year, he received the Vanguard Award from Hospitality magazine and the Minnesota Vikings Quarterback Club Award for outstanding community service.
In 2004, he earned the “Cornerstone Humanitarian of the Year” award from the National Restaurant Association as a result of the success of TNFL. In March 2005, Kostroski was named Restaurateur of the Year in Minneapolis by Mpls. St. Paul Magazine.
Kostroski resides in Edina with his wife Eda. He has two daughters, Lya and Judith, and a son, Peter. He is active in the Edina community and has served on the board of directors for the Edina Soccer Association and is past chair of the Edina Chamber of Commerce. Kostroski also serves on the board of directors of the 50th & France Business Association.
Affiliations, Associations and Awards
Minnesota Restaurateur of the Year, Minneapolis – St. Paul Magazine, March 2005
National Humanitarian Award, National Restaurant Association, May 2004
Vanguard Award, Hospitality Management Magazine, June, 2002
Pope John XXIII Humanitarian Award, Viterbo University, April, 2002
Community Quarterback Award, Minnesota Vikings, 2002
American Second Harvest, Hunger’s Hope Award, 1999
Leonard E. Lindquist Community Service Award, July 1999
Distinguished Alumni Award, Pacelli High School May 1999
Company of the Millennium Award, April 1999
Humanitarian Award, American Legion Auxiliary, 1998
San Diego Hunger Coalition Leadership Award, 1998
Entrepreneur of the Year Award, 1997
UPS Foundation Distinguished Service Award, 1996
Edina Business Person of the Year, 1996, Edina Chamber of Commerce
State Delegate, White House Conference on Travel & Tourism, 1995
Distinguished Service Award, City of St. Paul, 1993
Great American Restaurateur Award, Sullivan College, March 1993
National Retailer of the Month, Beverage Media magazine, summer, 1992
Marketer of the Year, Hospitality Management magazine, summer, 1992
Board Member, Greater Minneapolis Convention and Visitors Association
Board Member, 50th & France Business Association
Founder & National Chair, Taste of the NFL
Honorary Chair, OXFAM Hunger Banquet
Member, Minnesota Vikings Advisory Council
Advisor, Twin Cities Second Harvest St. Paul Food Bank
Key Contact, National Restaurant Association
Past Chair, Edina Chamber of Commerce
Past Member, Food Service and Management Advisory Board, New England Culinary Institute
Past Board Member, Hospitality Minnesota Association
Past National Board Member, The End Hunger Network
Past Chair, Joint Legislative Committee, Upper Midwest Hospitality Association
Past Board Member, Minnesota Chamber of Commerce
Past National Board Member, Share Our Strength (SOS)
Past Board Member, Minneapolis Downtown Council
Past Board Member, Minnesota Tourism Council
Member, Minneapolis Downtown Marketing Committee
Founding Member, Holidazzle Parade
Restaurant Chairman, 1992 Super Bowl Task Force Committee
Chair, Restaurant Committee, 1992 Final Four Host Committee