Bob Puccini, February 7, 1947 – October 9, 2018

Our colleague, friend, and leader.

“A restaurant experience is like a movie. Every detail, from the lighting to the production, music, cast of characters and costumes, come together to create an experience, not just an act of nourishment.”

We often liken Puccini Group’s approach to hospitality solutions to the artful direction of film by industry greats. Those who remain behind the scenes, writing scripts, casting characters, perfecting narratives from the opening credits through a story’s pivotal climax, and then gracefully toward a cinematic ending. Satisfied in the background, pushing performances to greatness, allowing actors to encapsulate their story to absolute belief, to become stars. Bob knew the movie magic – when the soundtrack should start, or the perfect timing for a reveal. To anticipate expectations by pulling the levers, controlling the curtains of visibility. As much as we collectively claim this persona of director, it was Bob who was the ultimate film steward. Puccini Group’s own magician from the academy. Our Martin Scorsese. Our Stanley Kubrick. Our Wes Anderson. A pioneer. A trailblazer. A fearless dreamer. The best storyteller for which we could have asked.

It’s through such stories that one is allowed to escape their everyday lives — to find some type of momentary sidestep of reality into a world masterfully curated for us. Bob could tap into those desires, giving people bold and meaningful experiences. There will inevitably always be differences in what we value in a restaurant, whether exemplary service, innovative cuisine, or breathtaking design. But to Bob, there existed a universal inclination cross-culturally to satisfy an innate craving for something meaningful. It’s not defined by standards or trend. It’s connecting to humanity, speaking to the soul with honest and truth across a table.

Bob understood the importance of gifting opportunity. In its simplest of form, his door remained open, for any question, for any advice, to share any idea. He built a culture that lifted the voices of those around him — a workplace encouraging discourse and celebrating new approaches to elevating hospitality. He loved the seemingly small tasks in the office, from emptying the dishwasher in the morning, to handing out mail. His generosity and graciousness made every team member at Puccini Group feel like they had a seat at the table.

He was a fighter. Often frank in his delivery, he spoke about the art of hospitality with an unwavering confidence. A message that when distilled, remained unchanged after decades of steadfast industry dedication — that people ultimately just want to feel good, if only for a moment, and our job is to promise and deliver on that emotional desire. It’s a celebration that knows no socio-economic or racial bounds — at the table, defined by our human need to break bread, we’re equal.

To Bob, a restaurant was theater, for which “the price of admission is the check at the end of a meal.” Together, we band together to raise the curtain another day, striving for the next ovation.

To our fearless director, we thank you for the enduring saga.

We’ve collected many stories shared by current employees (shared below) that highlight Bob’s unique impact on our lives, and we hope that you take the opportunity to share your accounts in the comment section as we chronicle a life well-lived.

Bob gave me the confidence and encouragement to get up in front of our industry and say what I believed in. He always would say, “You know Rob, when you are on the stage, you are the expert and the audience is listening.” – Rob Polacek, Chief Creative Officer 

I am grateful to Bob for fostering such an inclusive and welcoming environment where we get to be creative and do what we love every day. I not only look forward to coming to work, but am thankful to create alongside people who I view as part of my family. – Jenn Sharp, Intermediate Designer

Bob was a true mentor to me and his teachings will live on. – Rafe Gabel, SVP of Restaurant Operations

Bob was generous by nature, and his openness and generosity are what I will remember most. – Evan Beltran, Senior Graphic Designer

I called to thank him and express how incredibly touched I was that he not only donated to my ALC fundraiser, but had taken time out of his day to read my story. His response was this: “Nick, you don’t have to thank me. I’ve always thought of this company as an extension of my family and family takes care of each other.”  I was speechless. Nick Domitrovich, Studio Director

At the end of Christmas lunch, I was saying bye to everyone, leaving Bob as last.  He gave me the biggest hug (maybe he had a few cocktails) and then whispered in my ear, “I respect you.” To which I whispered back, “I love you.”Doug Fu, Senior Technical Designer

  • Reply

    Thea Bowers

    20 10 2018

    I so enjoyed working with Bob as we opened the beginnings of the Kimpton properties in DC. He was simply amazing and I learned so much from him not just about design but also how to work with people on all levels. He was an inspiration and this is a true loss for all.

  • Reply

    Jane Decker

    22 10 2018

    Prayers from the South Florida design community. Remembering Bob, Robert and Jacqueline when they visited to work with us on the Mayfair Hotel in Coconut Grove. Condolences for the Puccini Group. His legacy will surely live on in both the projects he created as well as the staff/family he taught. Hugs.

  • Reply

    Brenda Cole Seymour

    22 10 2018

    Dear Puccini Group,
    All of us at Mural Arts send our condolences to all of you. We are proud and thankful to have known and worked with Bob over the years.
    It is sad to loose another of San Francisco’s great designers but know his legacy will live on in all who he worked with and creatively affected.
    Best regards,

    Brenda and Les Seymour
    Mural Arts

  • Reply

    stefan breg

    12 01 2019

    sorry to hear the news, I always enjoyed catching up with Bob at GRIF and some time together in Dubai, wishing the team well

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