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March 7, 2022

Founder and CEO of Max Restaurant Group Rosenthal retiring, selling stake in business

HBJ Photo | Liese Klein Max Restaurant Group founder and President Richard Rosenthal.

Rich Rosenthal, the founder and CEO of Max Restaurant Group, announced his retirement Monday, saying he will sell his shares of the business and hand over his title to current senior vice president and COO Scott Smith.

In a statement, Rosenthal, who opened the first Max restaurant, Max-on-Main, in Hartford in 1986, said his shares will be sold to partners under the leadership of Smith and partner Steven Abrams. Abrams will take over Smith’s roles as senior vice president and COO.

“With our many restaurants fully reopened and the business stabilized after one of the most difficult times in our history, this seemed like the right time to pass the baton,” Rosenthal said. “Under the leadership of Scott and Steve, Max Restaurant Group is well-positioned to prosper and move forward in new and innovative ways.”

Company officials said Smith and Abrams have formed a new management company, Max Hospitality LLC, with their other partners and current investors.

Liberty Bank provided financing for the deal.

Smith first helped open Max A Mia Ristorante in Avon and later opened other locations for the company as director of operations and then senior vice president and COO.

Abrams worked as an assistant manager at Max-on-Main, became a partner in 1996 and later opened Max Downtown. He is also a partner in Max's Oyster Bar and Trumbull Kitchen.

Rosenthal, Smith and Abrams said the transition in ownership will be “seamless,” with no impact on restaurant operations, customer service or current Max Group employees.

“Our mission is constant,” Abrams said. “We could not have gotten here without Rich, and thanks to his myriad contributions over the years, we are poised for success in the future.”

Max Restaurant Group currently runs 10 restaurants: Max A Mia in Avon; Max Downtown and Trumbull Kitchen in Hartford; Max’s Oyster Bar, Savoy Pizzeria and Max Burger in West Hartford; Max Fish in Glastonbury; Max’s Tavern in Springfield; Max Burger in Longmeadow; and The Cooper Craft Kitchen & Bar in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida.

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