Tenacity, Generosity and Service to Others
Fogo de Chão CEO Barry McGowan’s Passport to Success.

  • 1. A very international audience reads this newsletter. What do you want people who may be unfamiliar with Fogo de Chão to know?
  • Fogo de Chão was founded in Porto Alegre in 1979 and was the gathering place for local leaders to share their culture with important guests. An incredible part of our story is that we came to the U.S. at the suggestion of former US President George H.W. Bush, a longtime fan of the brand. We taught his White House Chef to make chimichurri. The President discovered Fogo when visit-ing Brazil and said we should bring this experience to the US.
    Our business is rooted in personal connections. We make sure to meet guest demands to the best of our ability and we do not want to limit their experience. If there are ten people at a table, each one may have a unique experience - that's what differentiates our hospitality and way of cooking. We've created an operating model that starts with serving and accommodating every guest.
    Our demographics are surprising for a 40-year old brand with 54 locations around the world. Our guests are 46% Millennial, 23% GenX, 23% Boomer and 42% female. We're much more than a steakhouse: We’re a gathering place for colleagues, friends and family, and a place where people can celebrate and connect.
  • 2. It's rumored that you will do anything within your power to ensure your guests are happy. To what lengths have you gone and why?
  • Our care for people is genuine. I was with a guest who wanted an avocado cream dessert, a Bra-zilian dish that was not on the menu. We ran out to the store, got the ingredients, and made it for the guest right then. We treat guests as if we had invited them into our home. By focusing on what we love, which is serving others, we also increase loyalty.
    We host groups and international guests who are vegetarian and our gaucho chefs can easily accommodate them. Some vegetarian dishes generate our best reviews. We've created vegetari-an entrees and options and have a larger flexitarian following than we imagined.
    We focus on what the guest would like. Our service is rooted in the cultural traditions of Southern Brazil, which are primarily from Italian immigrants. Italians welcome guests with food and drink, offering wine, an aperitif, antipasto, etc. We are always searching for ways to surprise and delight our guests.
  • 3. What role does wine play at Fogo and how does VIK fit in it?
  • Our wine list is our window to the world. We reformulated our list a few years ago to focus on South American wine to showcase our roots. In fact, approximately 65% of our wines are South American. VIK is at the top of our South American wine strategy. We love the winery because its rooted in South America and we are proud of our heritage.
    We share much in common with VIK. VIK offers so much richness, quality, and value in their wines and we can relate to how we pour our tradition into the food and service we provide at Fogo. Before our partnership with VIK, we set out on a journey to find winemakers about whom we could tell stories. We chose VIK's Winemaker Cristian Vallejo to kick off this winemaker series. Cristian’s knowledge and passion for his wines creates a sense of magic in the wine-tastings and staff-trainings.
  • 4. Fogo asked VIK to make a tribute wine called Eulila for your Chief Culture Officer. Tell us about that.
  • Selma Oliveira was our first General Manager in the US at our location in Addison, TX. She is the matriarch of our company and our Chief Culture Officer. The founders of Fogo met her when they arrived to Dallas, TX to find a location for the first US restaurant. Selma was the front desk man-ager and the only person who spoke Portuguese at the Marriott where they stayed during this time. Born and raised in Brazil, Selma knew about Fogo and how big of an opportunity this was to bring the famous Brazilian restaurant to the US. For nine months they looked for a location to open a Fogo and during this time Selma taught them how to speak English and helped set up their business practices. When the founders opened the Addison, TX location in 1997, the found-ers officially asked Selma to join their team as General Manager.
    To honor her contributions to Fogo’s success we asked VIK to make a wine as a tribute to her. Cristian Vallejo created ‘Eulila’, a beautiful red blend, and presented it to her at our General Man-ager Conference this year. The wine celebrates her values, shares her story and can be enjoyed by guests at all of our restaurants. Selma will always be a critical part of the company’s story and this wine communicates that to a much wider audience.
  • 5. You've managed restaurants for 35 years. What drew you to this industry, and what is the best advice you’ve received and given?
  • My story is an immigrant's story: I was born in Germany, raised in Ireland, and am a naturalized American. Restaurants are a natural employment choice for many immigrants, and I thrived being busy, multi-tasking, solving problems, and pleasing people in the restaurants I worked in.
    I am strong in finance, but my best scholarships were art. I wanted to study photography, art and filmmaking. I came to the U.S., earned a degree, but I made more money in hospitality as a bar-tender and server. Even before earning my degree, I was given many opportunities. Many highly successful people in the restaurant industry don't have college degrees. Restaurants measure your success by your tenacity, your soul, your generosity, and your service to others.
    American Restaurateur Norman Brinker taught me to always give your people the benefit of the doubt. Trust your people. Go into every situation assuming people have good intentions and are doing their best. Know that as a leader; it is up to you to figure out how you can help them to do better by seeing their strengths and what they can bring to the team.
    I teach my team to own their personal accountability and understand their strengths. I empower them to take on new challenges. Leaders fail when they don’t step up and take on a new chal-lenge. If I show people what they can do and the capacity they have to grow, I create a team which is not afraid to take on the biggest challenges.


Puro Vik is like living in a dream inside the vineyard. When you stay in our new transparent glass bungalows you’ll be immersed in majestic nature while delighting in luxury comforts, and exquisite art and design-centric experiences. Read why top magazines are celebrating these stunning glass houses…

“Watch the sun rise and set over the rolling hills all around you from the comfort of your own glass villa…” Elle

“…jaw dropping views of the landscape. Each home has balconies with tubs overlooking the pan-oramas and its own décor theme from Japanese art and 18th century France to the glass of Dale Chihuly…” Forbes

“…Miesian-like casas [inserted] into the tree-line, orienting the glass walls and al fresco bathtubs outward towards greenery and majestic 180-degree views of the Millahue Valley below and the Andes in the distance…” Wallpaper


The muse of creativity takes many forms. This month’s muse is the book The Ago-ny & the Ecstasy by Irving Stone. The masterful story of Michelangelo Buonarroti’s exceptional life coincides perfectly with the completion of VIK Retreat’s latest property, Galeria Vik Milano, Italy.


Knowledge increases pleasure. Deepen your wine appreciation learning new terms.

Veraison (verr-ray-zohn) is one of the most important stage’s in a grapevine’s life cycle. This French term means the onset of ripening and has been adopted into English wine terminology. Veraison is the period in the life of a berry when it transitions from growing to ripening and it is marked by a change in color.

At VIK veraison starts at the end of January. During veraison tannins ripen and astringent malic acid is metabolized making the berries more balanced in flavor. As sugar levels rise the berries begin to express the varietal flavor characteristics. Harvest usually occurs 60-90 days later, de-pending on the varietal, the location and the wine style.

Contacto de prensa

Para información y material de prensa por favor contactarse por email a:

Consultas Estados Unidos

[email protected]

Marybeth Bentwood[email protected]

US:+1 323 401 3098

Consultas Globales

[email protected]