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Remembering Ron Kooser of Cini•Little

Longtime foodservice consultant Ronald Kooser, FCSI, passed away May 29, 2020. The 80-year-old Kooser was a principal at foodservice consulting firm Cini•Little.

ron kooserKooser’s career began in the design department of Stouffer’s Foods, planning restaurants, hotels and commercial operations for the company. Kooser joined Cini•Little in 1970, opening the firm’s first branch office in Chagrin Falls, Ohio, where he built the company’s business in the Midwest. Kooser retired from the day-to-day business in 2012 after leading Cini•Little for five years as president and chief operating officer and two years as CEO. He remained active on the firm’s board of directors and served as design advisor to Cini•Little’s associates.

“Ron possessed a creative spirit and was charismatic in his relationships with his clients,” says Kathleen Held, CEO of Cini•Little. “Those who had the pleasure of working with Ron will never forget the passion he brought to everything he did. His constant drive to help all succeed made him a natural mentor and leader. He was a sincere, generous man and will be missed, but his spirit left a powerful mark on me personally and this firm that will continue on.”

Kooser was known for his ability to train and mentor Cini•Little associates. “Ron hired me straight out of Purdue, and I had the privilege to work with him in the Cleveland office for more than nine years,” says Dick Eisenbarth, president and COO of Cini•Little. “Ron has been a mentor throughout my career and progression to my current position. Ron taught me the importance of listening to our clients and offering strategic planning solutions at every phase of a project. Ron was always an encourager and ingrained in me giving back to a number of initiatives throughout my career.”

A Fellow of the Foodservice Consultants Society International, Kooser served as the organization’s worldwide president in 1982-1983. A Cornell Hotel School alumnus, Kooser was an active member of the Cornell Hotel Society, serving as past director of the society as well as past president and member of the Northeastern Ohio Chapter. “I have known Ron for almost seven decades and graduated from Cornell in the same class of 1961,” says William Eaton, Cini•Little’s chairman of the board. “We were in college together and shortly after college, joined the same company, Hot Shoppes, now known as Marriott International Inc. We have traveled together numerous times, vacationed together and visited each other’s homes many times. To make it simple, we were like brothers! We will miss Ron’s clear mind and positive influence on the company, the industry, and to everyone he knew! God bless Ron, Linda and the whole Kooser clan.”

Kooser is survived by his wife Linda, their two children Sheree Ricketts and Paul Kooser and their families.

A celebration of Kooser’s life will take place at a later date due to the coronavirus pandemic. Those wishing to make a donation in Kooser’s memory may do so to the Wounded Warrior Project.