Tilman Joseph Fertitta (born June 25, 1957) is an American businessman, entrepreneur, television personality and the chairman, CEO and sole owner of Landry's, Inc., one of the nation’s largest restaurant corporations.[3][4] In 2013, his net worth was estimated at $2.4 billion, placing him at No. 235 on the Forbes 400 list of the wealthiest Americans;[5] Forbes calls him the “World’s Richest Restaurateur”.[6] Fertitta is also chairman of the Board of Regents of the University of Houston System.[7] After landing a reality tv show on CNBC, Fertitta became the star of Billion Dollar Buyer.

Early life

Fertitta was born and raised in Galveston, Texas, several generations after his family had emigrated to Texas from Sicily.[8] Fertitta’s father Vic owned a seafood restaurant on Galveston Island, and after school, a young Tilman Fertitta would peel shrimp in his father’s restaurant.[9] Fertitta attended Texas Tech University and the University of Houston, studying business administration and hospitality management.[10]

His first entrepreneurial experience involved selling and promoting Shaklee vitamins.[11] In the 1980s, Fertitta founded and ran a construction and development business, and developed his first major project, the Key Largo Hotel in Galveston.[12][13]

Business ventures

Landry's, Inc.

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.[14] A year later, Fertitta helped open Willie G’s Seafood & Steaks, a more upscale restaurant near Houston’s Uptown District.[15] In 1986, Fertitta gained controlling interests of both locations, and in 1988, became sole owner of Landry’s Restaurants. In 1993, Fertitta took Landry’s, Inc. public and the company grew quickly, adding concept after concept.[16]

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.[17] 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 and hospitality locations. In total, Landry’s, Inc. employs more than 50,000 people and controls $3.2 billion in assets.[14][18]

Landry’s 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, Vic & Anthony’s Steakhouse and many others.[19][20]

In 2004, Fertitta was elected to the Texas Business Hall of Fame, becoming the second-youngest Texan to ever earn that distinction, behind only Michael Dell.[21][22]

The Post Oak

The Post Oak is a complex in Uptown Houston that currently includes the Landry's headquarters and the Post Oak Motor cars (which includes a Rolls Royce and Bentley dealership). Currently under construction is a 36-story mixed-use skyscraper that will be used for a hotel, office space, and residential apartments. Also under construction in the complex is a 4-story conference center which will be the largest conference center in Houston once completed. Also in the complex will be a Mastro's Steakhouse which will be the first location in the Southern United States. Willie G's Seafood & Steak will also change its location to the Post Oak once completed. A valet lot will be on property.


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 the Houston suburb of 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.[23]

Fertitta also owns the Westin Downtown Houston, previously known as "Inn at the Ballpark", which is adjacent to the Minute Maid Park. The hotel went through renovations in 2013 before the name was rebranded. Fertitta stated the renovations were made to accommodate the demanding hotel room count in Downtown Houston, as business travel to the area is increasing. The name change also keeps the focus on general hospitality, in contrast to just the ballpark. Fertitta also owns the Blue Water Inn near Detroit, Michigan along the St. Clair River. [24] [25]


Landry's first expanded to casinos in 2005 when it bought Golden Nugget Casinos, including locations in Las Vegas and Laughlin, Nevada. Since then, Landry's has opened casinos in Atlantic City, New Jersey; Biloxi, Mississippi; and Lake Charles, Louisiana. 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. [26] [27] [28]

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, restaurant and the aquarium opened in 2003. The Downtown aquarium includes a ferris wheel, which is a popular attraction in Downtown Houston, due to its view of the skyline. The same year the downtown aquarium in Houston opened, Landry's acquired the aquarium in Denver, and has since acquired the Nashville aquarium.

Fertitta redeveloped the pleasure pier in Galveston, Texas, after the pier had closed after damages by Hurricane Ike. The pier reopened in 2012, 51 years after its close date, as the Galveston Island Historic Pleasure Pier. The redeveloped pier includes an amusement park, Bubba Gump Shrimp Company restaurant, as well as shops. Immediately after opening, the pier became an instant success, and is considered an iconic figure in Galveston. [29]


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 the 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.[30]

In 2003, Fertitta bought the naming rights to the Crawford Boxes seating section of the Minute Maid Park, into "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 certificates to one of Landry's restaurants. Landry's promoters often visit the section and give away items such as t-shirts.[31]

Fertitta also served as the Houston Rockets director for a period of time, during which the team were back-to-back NBA champions.[32]


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.[33]

Private hangar

Fertitta owns a private hangar situated inside Houston's Hobby Airport. The Landry's, Inc. logo can be seen displayed across the top. Fertitta uses the hangar as his business jet launch. Additionally, Fertitta has hosted private parties right inside the hangar, both for business as well as public community parties, including a party dedicated to the Houston Police Department. [34]


On January 12, 2016, it was announced that Fertitta would star in his own reality tv show titled Billion Dollar Buyer on CNBC.[35] In the program, Fertitta is expected to explore small businesses across the United States and see how their companies fit in with his own Landry's, Inc. while also giving business advice. 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.

Fundraising and Public Service

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.[36][37] Fertitta is actively involved with the Houston Children’s Charity, serving as Chairman of the Board. Every year, the Fertittas conduct a special fundraiser for the organization, called “A Gathering of Champions”.[38][39] The event is attended by well-known professional athletes from around Houston and across the nation.[40] Guests attend in casual attire.[40]

Fertitta was one of the original investors in Houston NFL team, the Houston Texans. In 2009, Texas Governor Rick Perry appointed Fertitta to the Board of Regents of the University of Houston System.[41] In 2008, Fertitta was named chairperson of the Houston Police Department’s Police Foundation, supplying gear and equipment for Houston Police Officers.[42][43] He also serves on the Executive Committee for the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo.[44][45] 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.[46][47]

Personal life

Fertitta and his wife Paige live in the River Oaks neighborhood of Houston with their children: Michael, Patrick, Blayne and Blake.[48] He is the third cousin of former UFC owners Lorenzo and Frank Fertitta.

During an interview on CNBC, Fertitta identified himself as a Republican.


  • Two-time NBA Champion (1994-1995) as Advisory Director of the Houston Rockets
  • Texas Business Hall of Fame (Class of 2004)