Founder, President & C.E.O., Tony Maroni's Franchise Systems, Bellevue, Washington
Age: 39. Why he's rising: Riviera, a first-generation Italian from Brooklyn, has assembled a top-notch management team to franchise a chain of gourmet pizza restaurants throughout the West. Ladder climbing: Owner, Manhattan Steak House; president, Celebrity Catering Co.; president/c.e.o., Orr Foods. On-the-job training: Grace Restaurants, Marriott Hotels, various restaurants. Wins praise for: Building a multi-million-dollar company from $200 investment; putting George Naddaff, founder of Boston Chicken, and W. Berry Fowler, founder of Sylvan Learning Centers, on advisory board. Mentor: Says Naddaff taught him "how to build a company using controlled growth and no surprises." First job in foodservice: Pizza maker, Armondo's Pizzeria, Brooklyn, age 11. What the future holds: Will attempt to create a regional (franchised) pizza chain in the West over next three years before taking it national.