- ·Co-owner, Founding Farmers, Farmers Fishers Bakers, Farmers & Distillers
- ·Founder, Our Last Straw
- ·Founder, Vucurevich Simons Advisory Group
Dan Simons speaks and teaches food and the hospitality business from direct experience. His strengths are founded in his ability to lead and direct teams while focusing on systems that deliver profitability.
In 2004, Dan co-founded Vucurevich Simons Advisory Group (VSAG) with his mentor and business partner Michael Vucurevich and built a team of passionate restaurant industry veterans with the proven ability to take businesses to the next level. In 2008, Dan and Mike spearheaded the development of Founding Farmers for VSAG client, the North Dakota Farmers Union.
Under Dan’s direction, Founding Farmers, which now lives under the Farmers Restaurant Group (FRG) umbrella, has flourished as one of the greenest restaurants in the U.S. and the first LEED Gold Certified upscale, full-service restaurant in the country. Within three years of its opening, Founding Farmers DC became OpenTable’s most-booked restaurant in the U.S. and still holds that honor today. In 2011, a sister restaurant was born: MoCo’s Founding Farmers opened in Potomac, MD to great success. A true visionary, Dan further expanded the FRG brand with the opening of Farmers Fishers Bakers in the fall of 2012.The newest location of Founding Farmers opened in February of 2015 in the fast-growing metropolis of Tysons, Virginia.FRG closed out the 2016 year with the opening of Farmers & Distillers restaurant and Founding Spirits Distillery, and in 2017/2018 opened Founding Farmers King of Prussia in Pennsylvania, the first out of market location for the collection of restaurants, and then Founding Farmers Reston Station in Virginia.
Prior to founding VSAG, Dan developed his operational foundation at high-volume restaurants like The Cheesecake Factory and T.G.I. Friday's, which he then applied to the eatZi's Market & Bakery brand, helping to take it to a $65 million/year hybrid restaurant-retail operation.
Dan's operational expertise comes from on-the-ground experience and a passion for guest services, notable concepts, exceptional operations and bottom-line success. With a passion for leadership and the development of industry talent, Dan is a frequent panelist and speaker at industry and educational events. He has participated in the FranklinCovey Leadership Symposium and teaches an annual 7-week workshop at The George Washington University School of Business in Washington, D.C., where he is able to impart his business practices and lessons learned to students as they prepare to embark on their own careers.
Dan is passionate about sustainability and the health of the planet, both at home as well as in the restaurants.He founded Our Last Straw, a non-profit dedicated to reducing single use plastic waste from the DMV region, starting with plastic straws in bars, restaurants, and hotels.This is a business built and business led coalition that has been successful in their efforts thus far, working in partnership with the DOEE and other governmental agencies, and plan to continue to push to reduce plastic waste in various other ways in the future.One step (and straw) at a time.
Born and raised in Lynnfield, Massachusetts, Dan studied international business at GW, and in 2010 founded The Scholarship for Sustainable Hospitality, an annual gift funded at the university by Founding Farmers, The Farm, and VSAG. In 2012, Dan was the recipient of the annual The George Washington University’s School of Business prestigious “Business Gives Back Distinguished Alumni Award” for his commitment to sustainability and social responsibility practices.
Dan and his wife live in Maryland with their three sons and share an affinity for world travel and exploring hospitality concepts wherever they go.