Russell J. Bendel, known as Russ, was born in Pennsylvania and raised in California. Influenced by his father, a veteran restaurant industry executive, Russ grew up in the business and developed a passion for food and hospitality. He set his sights on a career in the industry and earned his bachelor's degree from The Collins College at Cal Poly Pomona with an emphasis on Restaurants and Business Management. Russ worked with Bloomin' Brands Restaurant Group for an impressive span of 15 years: first with Outback Steakhouse and later with Fleming's Prime Steakhouse & Wine Bar, where he was promoted to partner of the flagship Newport Beach location at 25, the youngest in company history.
Russ also earned his Court of Master Sommeliers Certification and Level 5 Wines of the World Certification. He was honored in OC Metro's annual issue of "40 Under 40" in 2012 and ended his tenure with Fleming's as Partner of the Year in 2010, 2011 and 2012. Armed with knowledge, experience and recognition, Russ began his own venture in February 2013 by assuming ownership of Vine Restaurant in San Clemente, bringing longtime friends and family along for the ride. Their efforts have resulted in the opening of four successful restaurants along the Orange County coast.
In his personal life, Russ relishes time with family and friends. His wife Sarah, daughter Brooklynn and son Russell are a constant source of support and inspiration. Russ is also an active member of the California Restaurant Association, Orange County Chapter and on the board for The Collins College Alumni Association at Cal Poly, where he supports the growth of the industry for future generations.
Russ loves a good game of golf with his management team and is a big fan of his hometown Philadelphia Eagles