“I am truly honored to have been chosen as the next owner of the Houston Rockets. This is a life-long dream come true,” said Fertitta, a native of Galveston and life-long resident of the Houston area. “Leslie Alexander has been one of the best owners in all of sports, and I thank him immensely for this opportunity. He has the heart of a champion. Lastly, out of respect for the NBA’s approval process, I can say no more other than I am overwhelmed with emotion to have this opportunity in my beloved city of Houston.”
“I am excited to welcome and pass the torch to Tilman. He is a Houstonian, business leader and committed to the success and excellence of the Rockets both on and off the basketball court,” said Leslie Alexander, the current Rockets owner. “I have personally known Tilman for over 24 years and don’t think I could have found anyone more capable of continuing the winning tradition of our Houston Rockets.”
Tilman Joseph Fertitta (born June 25, 1957) is an American businessman and television personality. He is the chairman, CEO, and sole owner of Landry’s, Inc., one of the largest restaurant corporations in the United States. Landry’s, Inc., is an American, privately owned, multi-brand dining/hospitality/entertainment/gaming corporation. Headquartered in Houston, Texas, Landry’s, Inc. owns and operates more than 500 restaurant/hotel/casino/entertainment destinations in 35 states and the District of Columbia. The company also owns and operates numerous international locations. In 2017, his REAL TIME NET WORTH as of 9/6/17 is $3.1 Billion. Forbes calls him the “World’s Richest Restaurateur”.
Tilman Fertitta is not just the “Billion Dollar Buyer,” but he is also the genius mind behind one of the world’s fastest growing empires. The key to his consistent financial growth is rooted in positioning his business to be relatively unaffected by economic downturns. He believes when the economy is looking up, people often tend to forget that it doesn’t always last; and at the same time, when money matters are looking doubtful, people tend to forget they will eventually improve. He has always been a cyclical player, building or acquiring new real estate, even when the time doesn’t seem to be the right one.
During the 10-year real estate recession, from 1986 to 1996, he took advantage of the economic situation, purchasing prime properties for less. Once the economy bounced back, he was ahead of the game. He believes that a strong business strategy is to invest even when the market is down.
Fertitta was born and raised in Galveston, Texas, several generations after his family had emigrated to Texas from Sicily, Italy. His father, Vic, owned a seafood restaurant on Galveston Island, and after school, Tilman would peel shrimp in his father’s restaurant. Fertitta attended Texas Tech University and the University of Houston, studying business administration and hospitality management. His first entrepreneurial experience involved selling and promoting Shaklee vitamins.
In the 1980s, Fertitta founded and ran a construction and development business, and developed his first major project, the Key Largo Hotel in Galveston.
Fertitta was a partner in the first Landry’s Restaurant, Landry’s Seafood, which opened its doors in the Houston suburb of Katy, Texas, in 1980. A year later, he helped open Willie G’s Seafood & Steaks, a more upscale restaurant in Uptown Houston.
In 1986, Fertitta gained controlling interests of both locations, and in 1988, became sole owner of Landry’s Restaurants. In 1993, he took Landry’s, Inc. public and the company grew quickly, adding concept after concept.
In 2010, Fertitta, who already owned the majority of Landry’s, Inc. stock, purchased all outstanding shares, becoming sole owner again. In 1993, the company was valued at approximately $30 million.
By 2011, the company’s value had skyrocketed to a value of more than $1.7 billion. As of 2013, the company, under the leadership of Fertitta, owns and operates more than 500 restaurant/entertainment/gaming/hospitality locations. In total, Landry’s, Inc. employs more than 50,000 people and controls $3.2 billion in assets.
His portfolio includes: The Golden Nugget Hotel and Casinos; Morton’s The Steakhouse; Rainforest Cafe; Bubba Gump Shrimp Co.; McCormick & Schmick’s Seafood & Steaks; Saltgrass Steak House; Claim Jumper; Chart House; The Oceanaire; Mastro’s Restaurants; Grotto Restaurants and Vic & Anthony’s Steakhouse.
Tilman’s many personal honors include: Entrepreneur of the Year Award from Ernst & Young and induction into the Texas Business Hall of Fame as the second-youngest inductee. In 2012, he was named Amusement Today’s Person of the Year, and in 2013, he was named Casino Journal’s Executive of the Year and one of restaurant news top executive almost yearly. Tilman debuted on Forbes 400 list in 2012.
Fertitta first built the Key Largo Hotel in Galveston, Texas to buy the rights to Landry’s. After acquiring restaurants under the company, Fertitta started focusing more on the hospitality division of Landry’s and acquired the San Luis Resort, Spa, & Conference Center in Galveston, Texas. He also partnered with the City of Galveston to build the conference center in 2004 inside the resort. Fertitta since acquired two additional hotels on the island, including the Holiday Inn On the Beach in 2003, and the Hilton Galveston Island Resort in 2004, which stands adjacent to his San Luis Resort. In 2015, Fertitta added the Villas at San Luis section of the hotel, which consists of ultra-luxury villas with direct access to both the beach and the hotel’s pool.
The Golden Nugget Atlantic City was previously called the Trump Marina. Fertitta purchased this casino from The Trump Organization after the casino went bankrupt. The Golden Nugget Lake Charles was bought after Fertitta found a license and resort land for sale from Pinnacle Entertainment, which owns the adjacent L’Auberge du Lac Resort. Fertitta stated he built the casino with the idea of having a casino in close proximity to his Houston hometown. After the first year proved the casino was successful, a new 300 room tower began construction on the property.
In addition to restaurants, hotels, and casinos, Landry’s also owns amusement parks, aquariums, and the Kemah Boardwalk. Landry’s, Inc. first acquired the Kemah Boardwalk in 1999. After acquiring the boardwalk, Fertitta added a few Landry’s restaurants, and a few rides. In 2007, he added the Boardwalk Bullet which is a high speed wooden roller coaster. He also added the Boardwalk Fanta Sea, which is a luxury yacht cruise service where guests ride along the Galveston Bay.
The marina on the boardwalk is the largest concentration of boats and yachts in Greater Houston, as well as one of the largest in the nation. The boardwalk also includes an aquarium, which is under the same Landry’s line of aquarium restaurants with locations in Houston, Denver, and Nashville. Travel + Leisure magazine named the Kemah boardwalk a top 10 American boardwalk.
In 2000, Landry’s acquired the land on the 400 block of Bagby in Downtown Houston. The deal came from a proposal of the City of Houston to redevelop the fire station. After redeveloping the building, the aquarium added the shark tank and restaurant before opening in 2003.
Fertitta redeveloped the pleasure pier in Galveston, Texas, after the pier had closed after damages by Hurricane Ike. The pier reopened in 2012 as the Galveston Island Historic Pleasure Pier. The redeveloped pier includes an amusement park, Bubba Gump Shrimp Company restaurant, as well as shops.
During the process of building the Houston Texans as an NFL team, Fertitta was one of the original investors in creating the franchise. He then lasted as a partner for the Texans owner Bob McNair until 2008. Fertitta then had to sell his interest in the franchise, as he owns Golden Nugget casinos as part of Landry’s subsidiary. NFL rules state any staff member of a team can’t be associated with gambling. Both Fertitta and McNair were disappointed, as Fertitta was part of the franchise since the beginning, yet the team needed to comply with NFL rules.
In 2003, Fertitta bought the naming rights to the Crawford Boxes seating section of Minute Maid Park, calling it “Landry’s Crawford Boxes”. The term has become a commercial moniker during radio and television broadcasts. A Landry’s sign is placed above the section, along with many of the company’s subsidiaries. Traditionally, when a fan catches a home run, they are awarded a gift certificate to one of Landry’s restaurants. Landry’s promoters often visit the section and give away items such as T-shirts.
Fertitta served as the director of the Houston Rockets in the 1990s, during which the team won two NBA titles during the 1993–94 and 1994–95 seasons. On September 4, 2017, he agreed to purchase the Rockets from former owner Leslie Alexander for a price of $2.2 billion, a record sale price for an NBA franchise.
Fertitta partnered with Richard Handler and announced a special-purpose acquisition company. The company would be called Landcadia, a word mix between Fertitta’s Landry’s and Handler’s Leucadia. The company plans to raise as much as $300 million in initial public offering.
On January 12, 2016, it was announced that Fertitta would star in his own reality tv show titled Billion Dollar Buyer on CNBC. Billion Dollar Buyer premiered on March 22, 2016 at 10 P.M. Eastern Time. After receiving success during the first season, a second season was announced, featuring over twice as many episodes.
Fertitta devotes a significant amount of his time to community service and support of charitable organizations around Houston. Throughout the year, Fertitta and his wife Paige host a wide variety of fundraising events and galas at their home.
Fertitta is Chairman of the Board of the Houston Children’s Charity, which hosts an annual special fundraiser for the organization, called “A Gathering of Champions”. The event is attended by well-known professional athletes from around Houston and across the nation. Guests attend in casual attire.
In 2008, Fertitta was named chairperson of the Houston Police Department’s Police Foundation, supplying gear and equipment for Houston Police Officers. He serves on the Executive Committee for the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo. Additionally, Fertitta is a board member for the following Houston-based organizations: Texas Heart Institute, the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, and the Greater Houston Partnership.
River Oaks neighborhood of Houston with their four children (Michael, Patrick, Blayne, Blake). He is the third cousin of former UFC owners Lorenzo and Frank Fertitta. An avid sports fan, Fertitta is a vocal supporter of the University of Houston Cougars and can be seen at most Cougar football and basketball games as well as court side for Houston Rockets basketball games. In 2016, Fertitta donated $20 million to rebuild Hofheinz Pavilion for University of Houston basketball along with donations for the construction of TDECU Stadium.Fertitta and his wife Paige live in the
His hottest project is The Post Oak, which is Houston’s most exclusive destination. The complex contains a 5-fixture-bath hotel (the first in Houston and the most luxurious), residential units, 150,000 square feet of office space, four restaurants and two to three retail locations. His luxury dealership, POST OAK MOTOR CARS, which represents the Rolls-Royce and Bentley brands, will also have a featured showroom in the main building. This fabulous project has taken Houston’s hotel industry to the next level. The Post Oak currently boast the biggest ballroom available in the Galleria area, and offers a variety of luxury services such as: a Bentley and Rolls-Royce vehicle concierge, 24-hour room service, and a helipad with one of Tilman’s three helicopters on stand-by, just in case a guest is running late to the airport or an appointment. Tilman was right, when he anticipated The Post Oak bringing in even more tourism to the Houston area, and we are certain it will continue to thrive. The Post Oak is a sensational attraction for affluent locals and tourists alike.
Tilman’s motto for business is to “understand that this is a changing world, and you need to stay on top for every new opportunity that arises. If you slow down, you will get run over, so you can’t slow down.” His final note for us is some advice for new entrepreneurs: “Complete knowledge of the business is a must and should be there, not only on the sales side but on the financial, marketing and operational sides also. And let go of fear, and do not worry about failure.”