We are proud to be honoring Brad Martin this year with our "Innovator of the Industry" award.
Former CEO of Proffitt’s Department Store, Inc.
Mike began his restaurant career with Steak & Ale here in Knoxville, Tennessee in 1975. He continued in management with the Norman Brinker owned restaurant chain for seven more years. In 1982, he joined Bill Regas, members of his family, and friends Rick Federico and Kevin Thompson to create Grady’s Restaurant. Mike served as the first president of Grady’s. Over the next seven years Grady’s would open seven additional restaurants and merge with Brinker and the Chili’s group in 1989.
In 1992, Mike left Brinker and along with his brother Bo, Kevin Thompson, and others formed Connor Concepts, Inc. which has developed The Chop House and Connor's Steak and Seafood Restaurants. Mike is the CEO and majority partner. The first Chop House in Knoxville was opened at Franklin Square in Knoxville March, 1992. To date Connor Concepts has opened 13 Chop House restaurants and four Connor's Steak & Seafood in six states. A newest Connor's Steak & Seafood opened in Franklin, Tennessee Cool Springs Mall area in January, 2016.
Mike is married to Carol Connor, his wife of 40 years, and has four children; Mandy, Ryan, Brett, and Patrick. Mike serves as Chairman of the Finance Council for the Catholic Dioceses of East Tennessee, as is a long standing member of Retail, Hospitality, and Tourism Management Board of the University of Tennessee, and Cherokee Country Club Board. Mike was a member of the Leadership Knoxville class of 1990, founding member of Nucleus Knoxville, past vice chairman of the Tennessee Restaurant Association and was selected Tennessee Restaurateur of the year in 2003 by The Tennessee Restaurant Industry. Mike received the American Marketing Association Outstanding Marketing Professional of the Year in 2007. He was also the 2011 recipient of the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation Coleman Tomorrow Award. He was inducted into the Junior Achievement’s East Tennessee Business Hall of Fame in a ceremony in 2012.