President and Chief Operating Officer, Rainforest Cafe, Minneapolis
Age: 47. Why he's rising: O'Dowd is a no-nonsense, bottom-line operator—precisely the executive an emerging, growth-oriented chain like Rainforest Cafe requires. Ladder climbing: Vice president, operations, Hard Rock Cafe; corporate director, food & beverage services, Holiday Inn Worldwide; president and c.o.o., Rainforest Cafe. Education: B.A., English, Southwest Texas University. Performance: O'Dowd impressed industry observers by negotiating a lease deal with Walt Disney World earlier this year, and by opening a second Rainforest Cafe that report-edly grossed $1.9 million in its second month. Mentor: Norman Brinker. Wins praise for: Ability to control costs and negotiation skills. First job in foodservice: Barbecue restaurant in Houston, age 15. Next big move: O'Dowd plans to grow company sales to a billion dollars.