February 20-24, 2019 Miami Beach
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Karl Gordon is President and Chief Executive Officer of Donna’s Group of Restaurants, an eleven-store South Florida chain that specializes in Jamaican cuisine. His personal and professional life tells a compelling story of forward-looking struggle, industry, discipline, focus and a pointed entrepreneurial determination to succeed.

Born November 4th, 1967, to Patsy Tulloch and Percival Gordon, this son of the small seaside town of Falmouth, Trelawny, Jamaica received his early education at Falmouth All Age and William Knibb High schools in his hometown. Despite his roots in the rural western region of Falmouth Jamaica, young Karl... READ MORE

Karl Gordon is President and Chief Executive Officer of Donna’s Group of Restaurants, an eleven-store South Florida chain that specializes in Jamaican cuisine. His personal and professional life tells a compelling story of forward-looking struggle, industry, discipline, focus and a pointed entrepreneurial determination to succeed.

Born November 4th, 1967, to Patsy Tulloch and Percival Gordon, this son of the small seaside town of Falmouth, Trelawny, Jamaica received his early education at Falmouth All Age and William Knibb High schools in his hometown. Despite his roots in the rural western region of Falmouth Jamaica, young Karl often found his way into the capital city of Kingston, where he honed his survival and entrepreneurial instincts providing a hand-cart service to buyers and sellers in the bustling Falmouth Market as well as in the Coronation Market in downtown Kingston. Moving amidst mounds of ground produce and the kaleidoscope of colors from the hues of fresh fruits and vegetables awoke in him a lasting sensory attraction to food and its preparation.
Growing up on the north coast of Jamaica with its concentration of hotels and tourist attractions, it was natural for young Karl to gravitate to the hospitality sector as he sought to earn a more settled living and establish a stable career.

He landed his first job as a waiter at the then Trelawny Beach hotel, now part of the Royalton luxury Caribbean resorts, using the opportunity of being near a kitchen to develop his culinary interest and sharpen his service and cooking skills. Thus began his love for the hospitality and people-facing service industry. At Royalton, Karl received several accolades and repeated recognition for quality customer service.

His next job opportunity as a waiter/busboy was with Sandals Beach Resort in nearby Montego Bay. Determined to pursue his passion to see the world and to utilize his skills for a wider audience Karl accepted an offer to join the food service staff onboard the Bermuda Star Cruise Line ship “Variance”, the first of several vessels on which he spent several years. In his final two years at sea he worked on the Norwegian Cruise Liner, SS Southward.
Throughout his many assignments, Karl was perpetually haunted by the thought of operating his own business. In 1989, the 22-year-old took a decisive step in the direction of his entrepreneurial dream bidding farewell to the ocean and planting his feet firmly in Miami, Florida. However, success did not to come overnight as it seldom does. He started the Florida leg of this journey as delivery man and then sales assistant. He tried out acting, washed pots and dishes moving up to prep cook, cook and then head cook. Miami to Karl Gordon was simply a bigger market than the food market in Falmouth or Kingston, Jamaica, where he learned his survival skills. The Florida melting pot nourished his dream.

With ambition, the strength of his belief in himself and a little savings Karl Gordon gave more distinct shape to his dream by cooking and delivering from home, an undertaking that went very well. Friends and relatives supported his modest business endeavor and with their encouragement, Karl decided that it was time to branch out. He pooled all his savings and joined with his partner and friend, Donna Huie to open the first link in the chain of Caribbean restaurants in 1996. The business was named Donna’s in tribute to Huie, who later became his wife. From that first location in Plantation, at the corner of Broward Boulevard and 441, Donna’s Restaurant LLC and its principals never looked back.

Since then, a new branch location would be opened in Broward County almost every two years. With its mantra, “A taste of the Island, simply the best,” Donna’s Restaurant is committed to serving and delighting its customers with quality Jamaican cuisine which consistently represents Jamaica in its composition, preparation, taste, and quality. The business employs some of the best Jamaican cooks, servers and other staff as it transfers the delectable essence of “Brand Jamaica” into its products and service.

Karl Gordon currently owns and operates eleven restaurants under the Donna’s brand across Broward County with a staff of more than 115. The Donna’s Group and Karl Gordon continue to make significant contributions to local charities in South Florida and in his home country, Jamaica. His charitable contributions are an expression of Karl Gordon’s gratitude for life’s opportunities and experiences, which he regards as teaching opportunities. “I learned what to do and what not to do; to be bold and to be strong, but most important, my experiences taught me to be focused and humble,” he shares.
Karl Gordon is currently married to Yohanna Obalie and is the proud father of seven children.

Whereas in his youth he traveled all over Jamaica in search of opportunities, now, among his favorite pastime is traveling the world with his family understanding more about people and their cultures. When he is not “working, working, working” Karl likes a good game of table tennis. He also finds time to read his Bible as well as literature about the lives and journeys of successful business people. Most important to him, these days, however, he is enjoying more and more life’s simple pleasure of watching his children play.

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