Tilman Joseph Fertitta is an American entrepreneur and television personality, who currently serves as the Chairman, Chief Executive Officer, and sole owner of Landry's, Inc., Co-Chairman and Chief Executive Officer at Landcadia Holdings, Inc., Chairman at Houston Children's Charity, Chairman at Golden Nugget, Inc., Chairman at Houston Police Foundation, Chief Executive Officer at The Oceanaire, Inc., and Chairman at University of Houston System Board of Regents. He is best known for his ownership of Landry's, Inc., which is one of the largest restaurant corporations in the United States. With a net worth exceeding $3 billion as of September 2017, he has been called the “World’s Richest Restaurateur” by ‘Forbes.’ The son of a small-time seafood restaurateur, he nurtured big ambitions from a young age. He started investing in the stock market when he was in high school and was well on his way to establish his own business by the time he reached his early twenties. With his hard work and determination, he managed to establish himself as one of the most successful restaurateurs in the United States. His business interests go well beyond the restaurant business—he signed a definitive agreement to purchase the NBA team, the Houston Rockets, for $2.2 billion in September 2017.
Childhood & Early Life
Tilman Joseph Fertitta was born in Galveston, Texas, on June 25, 1957. He has two siblings Victor Fertitta and Todd Fertitta. His father, Vic Fertitta, owned a seafood restaurant.
He was introduced to the restaurant business early on, thanks to his father’s occupation. As a young boy, he used to help out in the restaurant’s kitchen, peeling shrimps. He observed his father running the business and learned a lot of practical skills.
Blessed with an ambitious spirit, he started investing in the stock market when he was a high school student. After graduating from high school he enrolled at the Texas Tech University for his further studies. Later he went to the University of Houston to study business administration and hospitality management. He was not much academically inclined though, and was raring to start his business career while still at college.
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Tilman Fertitta knew from the very beginning that he wanted to open his own business. Thus at the young age of 23, he took out a bank loan of $6,000 to start his first business—a seaside hotel situated in Galveston. Soon he also became a partner in Landry's Seafood restaurant in 1980.
In 1986, he sold his hotel and bought a majority stake in Landry's. By way of this deal, he also became the company’s CEO and chairman. Within a few years he started purchasing restaurants in Kemah, Texas, outside of Houston, thereby expanding his business.
Alongside his restaurant business he also founded and ran a construction and development business in the 1980s. The first major project he developed was the Key Largo Hotel in Galveston.
Landry’s Inc. went public in 1993 and grew quickly thereafter. He acquired the Holiday Inn on the Beach in 2003 and the Hilton Galveston Island Resort in 2004. In 2005 he bought Golden Nugget Casinos and has since opened casinos in Biloxi, Mississippi, Atlantic City, New Jersey, and Lake Charles, Louisiana.
Tilman Fertitta, who already owned the majority of Landry's, Inc. stock, bought all its outstanding shares in 2010. The following year, the company’s value skyrocketed to more than $1.7 billion. By 2013, Landry's, Inc. owned and operated more than 500 restaurants, casinos, and hospitality locations. In addition, the company also owns several aquariums and amusement parks.
In 2016, it was announced that Tilman Fertitta would star in a reality TV show called ‘Billion Dollar Buyer.’ The show premiered on CNBC on March 22, 2016. The series follows the businessman as he travels through the country assessing potential hospitality products for his restaurants, casinos, and hotels. On each episode, he meets two contestants and by the end of the episode, decides if he wants to make any offers to either, both, or none of them.
He is an avid sports fan and was one of the original investors who helped create the Houston Texans as an NFL team. However, he later had to sell his franchise. For a long period of time he served as the director of the NBA team Houston Rockets.
It was during his tenure that the team won NBA titles during the 1993–94 and 1994–95 seasons. In September 2017, he signed a definitive agreement to purchase the Rockets for a whooping price of $2.2 billion—a record sale price for an NBA franchise.
Tilman Fertitta is best known as the sole owner of Landry's, Inc., a privately owned, multi-brand restaurant corporation, one of the largest in the United States. The company which owns and operates more than 500 restaurants, hotels, and casinos across international locations has amassed more than $3.5 billion in assets and rakes in over $3.4 billion in revenue.
He is also popular as the charismatic yet practical star of the reality TV show ‘Billion Dollar Buyer’ which started airing on the CNBC network in 2016. The series features the business mogul travelling across the country trying and testing new and innovative hospitality products for using in Landry's, Inc.’s hotels and casinos.
Awards & Achievements
Tilman Fertitta was inducted into the Texas Business Hall of Fame in 2004, becoming the second-youngest Texan to ever earn that distinction, behind only Michael Dell.
Tilman Fertitta has been married to Paige Fertitta since 1991. Paige is a smart, beautiful, and ambitious lady who has always supported her husband in his business endeavours. The couple has four children: Michael, Patrick, Blayne, and Blake. She is also a philanthropist who is actively engaged with the First Baptist Academy. She organizes events for the benefit of the Children’s Cancer Center at M.D. Anderson as well.
He actively supports several charitable organizations and is even the Chairman of the Board of the Houston Children's Charity. He is also a board member of the Texas Heart Institute and chairperson of the Houston Police Department’s Police Foundation.
Tilman Fertitta has an estimated net worth of $3.1 billion.