Harry Schildkraut founded his own firm, Schildkraut, Schroeder, Sedej & Associates, Inc. in 2003 after 34 years with Cini-Little International, where he last served as principal and vice president. When Schroeder parted ways in 2008, Schildkraut renamed the firm S20 Consultants Inc. With nearly 30 active projects, S20 concentrates on foodservice design for sports arenas around the country — the firm has worked on Soldier Field, Lambeau Field, Lucas Oil Stadium, the Superdome in New Orleans, and many others. Schildkraut has earned a variety of awards over the years, including MAFSI’s Outstanding Consultant of the Year, FE&S’ former Young Lion award, FCSI’s President’s Citation for Distinguished Service, and others. A graduate of the Cornell University School of Hotel Administration, he is an active member of FCSI, the National Fire Protection Association, the National Sanitation Foundation and the Cornell Hotel Society.
FE&S: What keeps you working in the foodservice industry?
Harry Schildkraut: I love what I do!
FE&S: Who was the person that influenced your career most?
Harry Schildkraut: John Cini of Cini-Little
FE&S: What aspect of your career gives you the greatest sense of accomplishment?
Harry Schildkraut: Designing facilities that meet the client’s needs: flexibility, staffing, cost, menu variety, etc.
FE&S: How did you get into foodservice?
Harry Schildkraut: I grew up in the hotel business. My parents had a small resort in the Catskills 90 miles north of New York City (picture the resort in the movie Dirty Dancing). My first job was bussing tables at the resort at age 11. When it came time to go to college, I went to Cornell thinking I wanted to become a big hotel operator. I was exposed to some kitchen design courses and decided I would rather do that. I ended up getting job at Cini-Little and spent 34 years there. For the last 25, I ran the Chicago office. I’m now in my 44th year as a kitchen designer.
FE&S: What segment or segments do you focus on most?
Harry Schildkraut: Most of our work is sports venues — it makes up about 75 to 80 percent of our business. But we also work on some schools, universities and hotels.
FE&S: What memorable sports arenas have you worked on?
Harry Schildkraut: We just finished the new arena in Brooklyn for the Nets basketball team and the Miami Marlin ballpark. We’re currently working on an 18,000-seat arena in Quebec City, the 45,000-seat Baylor University football stadium, a 22,000-seat football stadium at South Dakota University, and the 16,000-seat Assembly Hall at the University of Illinois. Last year we finished an expansion to the Superdome in New Orleans after getting involved there years ago after Katrina. We also renovated the Notre Dame basketball stadium and the coliseum at the Indiana State Fairgrounds. We have about 30 active projects right now.
FE&S: Do you have a favorite project?
Harry Schildkraut: I like being involved in all the big name sports arenas. I enjoyed doing the foodservice at Soldier Field in Chicago when that was redone, and we did the Lambeau Field renovation in 2002. We also worked on the Lucas Oil arena where the Colts play when they had the Superbowl there. You never get to meet anyone famous though — we don’t meet the ball players unfortunately.
FE&S: Any interesting hobbies?
Harry Schildkraut: I am a model train fanatic — when I was young I wanted to be a railroad engineer. My whole basement is set up with 1,200 square feet of model trains — they go from New Jersey to Bingham, New York to Scranton, Pennsylvania. And every six weeks or so I get 17 guys down here and we run the schedule for four hours — we even have a dispatcher and engineers.
FE&S: You weren’t kidding when you said you wanted to be a railroad engineer!
Harry Schildkraut: No that was definitely my first dream job.