Steven Schussler

Founder of Schussler Creative & The Rainforest Cafe

Steven Schussler is a master at multi-tasking as the World’s Premiere Branding Expert, Consultant, Entrepreneur, Restaurateur and creator of Rainforest Cafe®, Teacher, Motivational Speaker, Columnist for the Minnesota Business Magazine and National Best-selling Author of “It’s A Jungle In There, Inspiring Lessons, Hard-won Insights and Other Acts of Entrepreneurial Daring”.

Passion and imagination are the two most powerful engines of success. Entrepreneur speaker Steven Schussler has breathed life into his restaurants, retail, attractions and entertainment venues worldwide by combining persistence and an unwavering belief in his dreams.

Steven started his entrepreneurial career early with a paper route at 9 years old and reinvented himself many times with more than a dozen jobs before his sixteenth birthday. As an executive in the television and broadcast industry, Steven learned to sell concepts and the intangible. A creative type all his life, Schussler has a passion for conceiving concepts that appeal to the masses. His career in the restaurant industry began with the development of Jukebox Saturday Night, a nostalgic restaurant and night club with 8 locations in Chicago, Illinois; Des Moines, Iowa; Springfield, Massachusetts; San Francisco, California and Minneapolis, Minnesota.

Well-known as the creator of one of the most successful themed restaurants in the world, Rainforest Cafe® (A Wild Place to Shop and Eat®), Steven opened the first at the Mall of America in Bloomington, Minnesota in October 1994. Steven and his public company owned and operated 45 Rainforest Cafe restaurants in seven years, on three continents and sold the chain to Landry’s Restaurants in 2000, but not before receiving more than 40 awards in six years including: Fortune Magazine’s Top 100 Fastest Growing Companies in the U.S.A. (named to the list two consecutive years); Entrepreneur Magazine’s Top 100 entrepreneurs in the country; Nation’s Restaurant News’ Hot Concept Award, Orlando Magazine’s Best Theme Restaurant; the National Retail Federation’s National Retailer of the Year; and Chicago Tribune’s Best Restaurant for Kids.

Steven Schussler founded Schussler Creative, Inc. in 2000, where he leads the creative vision and overall strategic direction of the organization. Steven has created, built and owns the following restaurants and attractions.

• T-REX™, A Prehistoric Family Adventure™, A Place to Eat, Shop, Explore and Discover™, with locations at Downtown Disney® Marketplace in Orlando, Florida and The Legends at Village West in Kansas City, Kansas. T-REX™ recreates the different environments in which dinosaurs existed and features life-sized dinosaurs, amazing special effects, and hands-on educational opportunities.

• Yak & Yeti™ Restaurant, located inside Disney’s Animal Kingdom® Theme Park in Orlando, Florida, is a unique Asian-fusion restaurant and quick-service market.
• Betty & Joe’s™ Baker & Coffee Maker™, coffee & pastry concept, Betty & Joe’s™, Baker & Coffee Maker™: You can’t have one without the other, is located at Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania. Betty & Joe’s™ features a menu with java concoctions, along with fresh baked, mouth-watering pastries including cakes, pies, tartlets and scones. Each barista is formally trained in coffee preparation able to suggest the perfect pairing between a java drink and pastry pick.

• Hot Dog Hall of Fame™: Frankly the Best Hot Dogs, Sausages, Dumplings, and French-Fries in the World! Hot Dog Hall of Fame is located at Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania and several other locations nationwide are in the works. Hot Dog Hall of Fame is the home of Paint Your Own Weiner™ - a trademarked interactive activity for children. In addition, The Art of Mustard™ is an artistic way for guests to taste a wide and varied selection of different mustards. Using the paint brushes as props, mustards are offered as paints on an artist’s pallet and painted onto the dogs themselves.

• Galaxy Drive In™: Aliens, Humans and All of Our Four Legged Friends Welcome™ is located in St. Louis Park, Minnesota and offers an intergalactic, retrofuturistic and pet-friendly experience with a delicious menu comprised of galactic burgers, rocket dogs, root beer floats, Saturn’s onion rings and more. The whole family can enjoy S’mores kits on the fire roasting pits and oversized, outdoor chess and checker sets. There is also a menu for dogs and a free ice cream cone for canine visitors.

• Backfire BBQ™ Featuring Orange County Choppers® (Bikes, Burgers, Barbeque) at The Legends at Village West in Kansas City, Kansas. This one-of-a-kind attraction showcases iconic American cuisine serving burgers, barbeque and comfort food in a full throttle, immersive setting complete with live music, a retail store, an outdoor patio and a fire roasting S‘mores pit. With the culinary direction and management of Levy Restaurants, this new BBQ and comfort food concept is the first restaurant to feature the custom motorcycles of Paul Teutul Sr.’s Orange County Choppers.

Schussler Creative Projects Under Development:
• Aerobleu™ The Spirit of Cool™
• Zi Imperial Kitchen™ Asian Antiquities and Culinary Art™
• Winter Wonderland™ The Magic of Winter™
• Sorcerer’s Kitchen™ School of Wizardry, Food & Magic™
• Musical Garden™ A Living Work of Art, Food and Music™
• Water, Fire & Ice™ Polar Ultra Lounge™ – The Hottest Place on Ice™
• Pizza Market™ Italian Kitchen, Wine & Groceria™ – The Place to Ciao!™
• Mahogany Bay - Classic Wooden Boats and Great Food™


Steven Schussler is a graduate of the FBI Citizen’s Academy. The Academy engages citizens in the process of protecting their communities and country. He has been involved with charitable and civic organizations that include the Leukemia Society, American Lung Association, Minneapolis Youth Connection, Lifeskills Center for Leadership, Special Olympics, Neighborhood House, and the Animal Humane Society.

Mr. Schussler played the lead role in the commercial for Clemmy’s Ice Cream, an all natural sugar free and gluten free ice cream which won the American Advertising Federation’s Gold ADDY® awards. In addition, Steven appeared in September 2010 as a judge on Food Network’s “24 Hour Restaurant Battle”.

Committed to inspiring and educating fellow entrepreneurs, the nation’s future business leaders and business professionals alike, Steven Schussler teaches an entrepreneurial class for the Carlson School of Business Management at the University of Minnesota.

Schussler is a columnist for Minnesota Business Magazine. Steven’s monthly “Backtalk” column motivates and educates readers by sharing new and fascinating stories, advice and experiences from nationally and internationally recognized business leaders.

Steven Schussler is the National Best-selling author of It’s a Jungle In There: Inspiring Lessons, Hard-Won Insights, and Other Acts of Entrepreneurial Daring, which is published by Sterling Publishing, a Barnes & Noble company.

Giving back to the community is also one of Schussler’s passions and 100% of the author’s book profits are donated to Smile Network International, an amazing organization that surgically repairs cleft lips and palates of impoverished young people around the world. Steven is a founding member and continues to be a lifetime advisor of the board of directors.

See Below for Full Bio

  • Speaking Topics:

    Branding, CEO's, Creativity, Entrepreneur, Innovation, Leadership, Marketing

  • Travels From:

    Minnesota

  • Price:

    $20,000 - $30,000

    Notes on Fees

  • Videos
  • Full Bio
  • Speech Topics
  • Books
  • Testimonials
  • News

Steven Schussler Video

Steven Schussler is a master at multi-tasking as the World’s Premiere Branding Expert, Consultant, Entrepreneur, Restaurateur and creator of Rainforest Cafe®, Teacher, Motivational Speaker, Columnist for the Minnesota Business Magazine and National Best-selling Author of “It’s A Jungle In There, Inspiring Lessons, Hard-won Insights and Other Acts of Entrepreneurial Daring”.

Passion and imagination are the two most powerful engines of success. Entrepreneur speaker Steven Schussler has breathed life into his restaurants, retail, attractions and entertainment venues worldwide by combining persistence and an unwavering belief in his dreams.

Steven started his entrepreneurial career early with a paper route at 9 years old and reinvented himself many times with more than a dozen jobs before his sixteenth birthday. As an executive in the television and broadcast industry, Steven learned to sell concepts and the intangible. A creative type all his life, Schussler has a passion for conceiving concepts that appeal to the masses. His career in the restaurant industry began with the development of Jukebox Saturday Night, a nostalgic restaurant and night club with 8 locations in Chicago, Illinois; Des Moines, Iowa; Springfield, Massachusetts; San Francisco, California and Minneapolis, Minnesota.

Well-known as the creator of one of the most successful themed restaurants in the world, Rainforest Cafe® (A Wild Place to Shop and Eat®), Steven opened the first at the Mall of America in Bloomington, Minnesota in October 1994. Steven and his public company owned and operated 45 Rainforest Cafe restaurants in seven years, on three continents and sold the chain to Landry’s Restaurants in 2000, but not before receiving more than 40 awards in six years including: Fortune Magazine’s Top 100 Fastest Growing Companies in the U.S.A. (named to the list two consecutive years); Entrepreneur Magazine’s Top 100 entrepreneurs in the country; Nation’s Restaurant News’ Hot Concept Award, Orlando Magazine’s Best Theme Restaurant; the National Retail Federation’s National Retailer of the Year; and Chicago Tribune’s Best Restaurant for Kids.

Steven Schussler founded Schussler Creative, Inc. in 2000, where he leads the creative vision and overall strategic direction of the organization. Steven has created, built and owns the following restaurants and attractions.

• T-REX™, A Prehistoric Family Adventure™, A Place to Eat, Shop, Explore and Discover™, with locations at Downtown Disney® Marketplace in Orlando, Florida and The Legends at Village West in Kansas City, Kansas. T-REX™ recreates the different environments in which dinosaurs existed and features life-sized dinosaurs, amazing special effects, and hands-on educational opportunities.

• Yak & Yeti™ Restaurant, located inside Disney’s Animal Kingdom® Theme Park in Orlando, Florida, is a unique Asian-fusion restaurant and quick-service market.
• Betty & Joe’s™ Baker & Coffee Maker™, coffee & pastry concept, Betty & Joe’s™, Baker & Coffee Maker™: You can’t have one without the other, is located at Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania. Betty & Joe’s™ features a menu with java concoctions, along with fresh baked, mouth-watering pastries including cakes, pies, tartlets and scones. Each barista is formally trained in coffee preparation able to suggest the perfect pairing between a java drink and pastry pick.

• Hot Dog Hall of Fame™: Frankly the Best Hot Dogs, Sausages, Dumplings, and French-Fries in the World! Hot Dog Hall of Fame is located at Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania and several other locations nationwide are in the works. Hot Dog Hall of Fame is the home of Paint Your Own Weiner™ - a trademarked interactive activity for children. In addition, The Art of Mustard™ is an artistic way for guests to taste a wide and varied selection of different mustards. Using the paint brushes as props, mustards are offered as paints on an artist’s pallet and painted onto the dogs themselves.

• Galaxy Drive In™: Aliens, Humans and All of Our Four Legged Friends Welcome™ is located in St. Louis Park, Minnesota and offers an intergalactic, retrofuturistic and pet-friendly experience with a delicious menu comprised of galactic burgers, rocket dogs, root beer floats, Saturn’s onion rings and more. The whole family can enjoy S’mores kits on the fire roasting pits and oversized, outdoor chess and checker sets. There is also a menu for dogs and a free ice cream cone for canine visitors.

• Backfire BBQ™ Featuring Orange County Choppers® (Bikes, Burgers, Barbeque) at The Legends at Village West in Kansas City, Kansas. This one-of-a-kind attraction showcases iconic American cuisine serving burgers, barbeque and comfort food in a full throttle, immersive setting complete with live music, a retail store, an outdoor patio and a fire roasting S‘mores pit. With the culinary direction and management of Levy Restaurants, this new BBQ and comfort food concept is the first restaurant to feature the custom motorcycles of Paul Teutul Sr.’s Orange County Choppers.

Schussler Creative Projects Under Development:
• Aerobleu™ The Spirit of Cool™
• Zi Imperial Kitchen™ Asian Antiquities and Culinary Art™
• Winter Wonderland™ The Magic of Winter™
• Sorcerer’s Kitchen™ School of Wizardry, Food & Magic™
• Musical Garden™ A Living Work of Art, Food and Music™
• Water, Fire & Ice™ Polar Ultra Lounge™ – The Hottest Place on Ice™
• Pizza Market™ Italian Kitchen, Wine & Groceria™ – The Place to Ciao!™
• Mahogany Bay - Classic Wooden Boats and Great Food™


Steven Schussler is a graduate of the FBI Citizen’s Academy. The Academy engages citizens in the process of protecting their communities and country. He has been involved with charitable and civic organizations that include the Leukemia Society, American Lung Association, Minneapolis Youth Connection, Lifeskills Center for Leadership, Special Olympics, Neighborhood House, and the Animal Humane Society.

Mr. Schussler played the lead role in the commercial for Clemmy’s Ice Cream, an all natural sugar free and gluten free ice cream which won the American Advertising Federation’s Gold ADDY® awards. In addition, Steven appeared in September 2010 as a judge on Food Network’s “24 Hour Restaurant Battle”.

Committed to inspiring and educating fellow entrepreneurs, the nation’s future business leaders and business professionals alike, Steven Schussler teaches an entrepreneurial class for the Carlson School of Business Management at the University of Minnesota.

Schussler is a columnist for Minnesota Business Magazine. Steven’s monthly “Backtalk” column motivates and educates readers by sharing new and fascinating stories, advice and experiences from nationally and internationally recognized business leaders.

Steven Schussler is the National Best-selling author of It’s a Jungle In There: Inspiring Lessons, Hard-Won Insights, and Other Acts of Entrepreneurial Daring, which is published by Sterling Publishing, a Barnes & Noble company.

Giving back to the community is also one of Schussler’s passions and 100% of the author’s book profits are donated to Smile Network International, an amazing organization that surgically repairs cleft lips and palates of impoverished young people around the world. Steven is a founding member and continues to be a lifetime advisor of the board of directors.

Innovation: Innovation Takes Time
Why Research and Development are so important and underestimated for bringing a successful concept, service or product to market

Passion: Passion +Ambition Yields Success … (It P.A.Y.S.)!
Conceiving, Believing and Achieving

Sales/Marketing: It’s a Jungle In There!
Customers won’t buy what they don’t know exists

Entrepreneurism: I Dream… Therefore I Can: Five P’s for Success
Personality, Product, Persistence, People and Philanthropy

General Mills

"The energy and passion you have was immediately transformed to our group. They were all blown away with everyone’s creativity, knowledge and pride in what they are doing. The incredible thing I observed is that everyone in our group took away something different which they could personally relate to; whether it be prototyping, risk taking, repeated success, setting your sights on what you really want and going full steam, etc. My personal goal is to find my own “crate” or “ship”.”

Merrill Lynch

“Steven’s ‘out of the box’ approach to self-promotion and sales inspired our Advisors to tap into their creative side and reignite building their practices. His relentless pursuit of success is inspiring, and his presentation leaves you motivated to take it to the next level.”

BestBuy

“Thank you again for sharing your experiences with our team members at Best Buy. We try to create an environment where our employees can contribute their ideas and passions to serve our customers. Your life journey and persistence were a great example and model for us of what is possible.”

Walt Disney World Company

“Thanks a million for speaking to Disney at our Worldwide Sales and Travel Operations Leadership Conference. Your story is a Horatio Alger role model that inspired everyone!”
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