Colleagues Recall Cini’s Love of the Foodservice Industry

Foodservice consultant John Cini died Wednesday, July 4 at his home. Cini was one of the founders of Cini-Little, an Illinois-based consulting firm, and a founding member of the Foodservice Consultants Society International. For his contributions to the foodservice and hospitality industry, Cini was honored as a member of the “FCSI Council of Fellows” in 1986.

“He believed in preparing young people for careers in the foodservice industry and supported the growth and education of the foodservice consulting profession through this Society,” said Dick Eisenbarth, vice president of strategic relations and Cini-Little board member.

Cini’s career began at Stouffer’s Restaurant and Prexy’s in New York City and he went on to direct Marriott Corp.’s food facilities design division in Maryland before founding Cini-Little with a few fellow Cornell alumni in 1968. During his 34 years as chairman and CEO, Cini worked with prominent architects to design commercial kitchens for corporations, hospitals, hotels, restaurants, universities, museums, and sports arenas. His most notable projects include the kitchens and support facilities at the World Trade Center, Colonial Williamsburg, The Greenbrier, IBM, and the National Gallery of Art.

Diane Dowling, CEO and CFO of Cini-Little, said, “As his daughter, I had the privilege of seeing how much my dad loved his profession and the foodservice industry in general. He had an innate curiosity and ability to reason through difficult problems that led him to be so successful during his career.”

After leading the firm for 34 years as chairman and CEO, Cini retired from the day-to-day business in 2002 but remained active on its board until 2016.

“I am privileged and thankful for the opportunity to work closely with John for almost four decades,” Ron Kooser, a principal at CIni-Little, said in a statement. “He had a zest for all things in his professional and personal lives and enriched those who were fortunate enough to cross his path. Our industry has lost a bright light and we will miss him.”

A burial service was held on Tuesday, July 10. In lieu of flowers, the family requests contributions be made to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.