- Eduard Seitan of One Off Hospitality Group that owns Michelin-starred restaurants is coping up with the pandemic.
- He owns a plane and volunteers for Pilots N Paws.
- He’s flown more than 40 pets across the country to save them from euthanasia.
Well-established hospitality business expert Eduard Seitan was at the height of his career when the coronavirus pandemic hit the US.
The restaurateur from Chicago was an immigrant from Romania when he was only 19 in the year 1992. He learned English quickly and hustled his way up from working at a construction site to working at an Italian restaurant — Club Lucky. Good for him, he speaks fluent Italian.
He worked hard and got promoted until in 1997, he met his soon business partners who asked him to help open their own business.
Now, he is one of the most valuable partners at One Off Hospitality Group, which owns several high-end restaurants including the Michelin-starred Blackbird. They also opened 10 more in Chicago — Avec, Big Star, and The Publican.
But then restaurants were forced to shut down when thevirus hit the country in March. While they tried their best to support their employees, many had to be laid off still, while Blackbird and another one of their restaurants had to permanently close.
The furlough of their employees was devastating especially when they’ve already been with them for many years.
“It was so hard for us to actually tell someone who’s been with us for 20-plus years, ‘Sorry, I don’t know when we’re going to reopen,’” Eduard told TODAY. “The uncertainty was terrible.”
Eduard, now 48, owns a private airplane — an old one which he says costs less than “most cars on the road.” He also volunteers for a non-profit organization Pilots N Paws. This way he is coping up with the many challenges he and his business is facing amidst the pandemic.
“Flying is my really happy place,” he said. “Since the pandemic started, because of the extra time I had on my hands, I have been flying a lot more than usual. But now, I only fly with a purpose for Pilots N Paws.”
The members of the organization are pilots who voluntarily fly rescued dogs and cats across the US. Eduard himself has already flown more than 40 animals at risk of being euthanized and transferred them to foster families or no-kill rescue shelters in the country.
Recently, Eduard transferred two dogs to Ohio where another pilot flew them again to Pennsylvania. So far, dogs mostly behave in his plane while others are a little shy to enter. But he is inspired by their resilience despite the bad things and abuse that happen to them.
He himself owns two rescue dogs and he views volunteerism as something that ripples goodness in people.