Rick Bender
Co-Founder and Chief Operations Officer

Growing up in Central New York, Rick developed a rich appreciation for high quality local ingredients at a young age. He became fascinated with the area and dedicated himself to telling the stories of regional purveyors through food. Rick decided to pursue his passion at The Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, where he came to understand the bigger issues facing our food system today. Upon graduation, he moved to New York City and gained experience cooking at some of New York’s most reputable restaurants including Tabla, The Modern, and Jean-Georges at Columbus Circle. In 2011, Rick joined the culinary team for Google New York where he gained invaluable experience leading one of the world’s preeminent corporate food service programs. After six years, Rick decided to leave his role as Chef de Cuisine to create a restaurant that delivers food to the marketplace utilizing socially-conscious ingredients in a creative and approachable way.

 

Jon Mizrach
Co-Founder and President

Jon started his career in food service at a young age, working at catering halls and restaurants in his hometown of Marlboro, NJ. He went on to pursue his passion at SUNY Oneonta, where he received a bachelors degree in Food Service and Restaurant Management. In 2007, Jon joined Restaurant Associates (RA), the nation’s premier foodservice, restaurant, and catering company where he successfully managed some of New York City’s biggest corporate accounts including Princeton University, The New York Times, ABC/Disney, MTV, and Google. Through his time at RA, Jon developed a clear idea of what hospitality meant to him and sought a way to bring his years of expertise to a new audience. Jon’s dedication and passion lead to the development of Local Leaf, a quick-service restaurant and lifestyle brand that would embody his own philosophies on food combined with chef-crafted offerings and service excellence.

 

Solomon Choi
Co-Founder

Solomon is a seasoned food service industry leader and was raised on the philosophy that “passion brands” are built by engaging with consumers in ways that enrich their daily lives. Solomon brings 15 years of hospitality and foodservice management experience with managerial and executive roles at companies like Enterprise Car Company, Todai, and a restaurant group that launched eight Japanese restaurants and a Gelato franchise. In 2008, he relocated to New York to launch 16 Handles Frozen Yogurt, where the brand has since exploded into the leading frozen dessert franchise in the Greater NY market. Through smart marketing that merges grassroots, social and strong PR efforts, Solomon pioneered the concept into what is now over 40 operating locations across the East Coast and in the Middle East. Solomon has been featured on MSN, CNBC, Bloomberg News, ABC News, Fox Business, The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times, among many others.

 

Shaun Goodman
Co-Founder and Chief Financial Officer

Shaun’s first jobs included working at a catering hall and restaurants while growing up in his home town of Marlboro, New Jersey. He then went to Oneonta State College to pursue a degree in Accounting. While playing College Tennis for four years for the Red Dragons, Shaun was awarded “The Outstanding Achievement and Excellence Award” by the New York State Society of CPAs for his achievements in the Professional Accounting program. Shaun then went on to work in a midsize accounting firm in NYC while obtaining his CPA license in New York and New Jersey. He now heads operations at The Goodman CPA Group, an accounting firm that specializes in business management. Shaun brings a solid knowledge of running a business and love for food to the Local Leaf team.