Polo, Culinary Champ to be American Free Enterprise Medalist


Palm Beach Atlantic University will present its American Free Enterprise Medal to Tim Gannon, a co-founder of Outback Steakhouse, Inc., and the creator of the “Bloomin’ Onion” recipe and many other dishes on Outback’s menu. He is CEO of Palm Beach PDQ, and he plans to open="open" four new PDQ restaurants this year, creating 300 jobs.

Palm Beach Atlantic University, in partnership with Bank of America, will present the University’s American Free Enterprise Medal on Nov. 7 to Tim Gannon, a co-founder of Outback Steakhouse, Inc., and CEO of Palm Beach PDQ, Palm Beach Atlantic University (PBA) is a private, Christ-centered college in West Palm Beach, Fla., USA.
Tim Gannon

The medal ceremony is set for 10:45 a.m. Thursday, Nov. 7, in the Rubin Arena of the Greene Complex for Sports & Recreation, 1100 S. Dixie Highway in West Palm Beach. The ceremony is free and open="open" to the public. For more information, call (561) 803-2025. The event will be live streamed via the following link: www.pba.edu/live-streaming-1

A Florida native and Palm Beach resident, Gannon has been an art gallery tour guide in Italy, a successful restaurateur and a champion polo player.

Gannon is an alumnus of Florida State University, where he studied art history and dreamed of being a museum curator. This took him to Florence, Italy, where he became a tour guide for an art gallery. He then went to Aspen, Colo., where he developed his passion for food and cooking. The French chef at the Four Seasons Hotel had offered to train him to be his assistant.

Over the next 14 years Gannon worked at Steak & Ale, and then Al Copeland hired him to help operate his Copeland’s Cajun Cafe in New Orleans. In 1987 Bob Basham and Chris Sullivan invited Gannon to return to Florida, become their partner and launch a new restaurant concept, which would become known as Outback Steakhouse.

Since his high school days, Gannon had dreamed of becoming a polo player, and had been given a saddle by the friend who introduced him to the sport. He had come upon hard times financially by the time Basham and Sullivan offered their partnership, so he sold his keepsake saddle for $250 to finance the trip to Florida. He arrived in Tampa with $37 in his pocket.

Outback Steakhouse became one of the biggest corporate success stories in recent years. In 1994, Inc. magazine named Gannon Entrepreneur of the Year.

 In 1999, The Florida Restaurant Association honored him with its Lifetime Achievement Award. In the year 2000, Gannon received an honorary doctorate in business administration and food service management from Johnson & Wales University.

Gannon is a member of the Tampa Bay Chamber of Commerce Business Hall of Fame. In 2009 he was inducted into the U.S. Business Hall of Fame along with his partners Sullivan and Basham. In 2011 he launched “Kettle Comfort, Cooking for America,” based in West Palm Beach. This program produced chef-inspired food to be delivered to thousands of hungry or nutrition-deprived people each day, but at year-end 2012 it was dissolved due to economic pressures.

Riding the success of his restaurant ventures, in 1992 Gannon obtained his dream of playing polo. He had his own team, Outback Polo, and has been one of the greatest sponsors of the game. In 2001 Outback Polo won its third U.S. Open in a row, which no other polo team has ever done.

Gannon also led his team in being the first ever to hold five U.S. championships (1995, 1996, 1999, 2000 and 2001). He has played high goal polo in the U.S., England, Spain, Argentina, Dubai and Uruguay. In 1999, he received the USPA Sponsor of the Year award for his contribution to polo.

Gannon no longer plays competitive polo, but he still plays the game for charity benefits. He is now very involved with tennis.

His other passion is his family: wife Christie, and five children, Christopher, Kathleen, Blake, Bettina and J.T. 

Gannon will be recognized along with companion medalists Paul Donahue, president and CEO of G4S Government Solutions, Inc., and Kenneth Kennerly, executive director of The Honda Classic.

American Free Enterprise Day is a tradition at Palm Beach Atlantic since the first celebration took place in 1984. Previous medal recipients include Brian P. Burns, BF Enterprises Inc., 2012; H. Wayne Huizenga Jr., Huizenga Holdings, Inc., 2011; Edward M. Kobel, DeBartolo Development, LLC, 2010; John D. MacArthur, insurance and real estate entrepreneur, 2009; John M. Gregory, SJ Strategic Investments, LLC, 2008; Karl H. Watson, CEMEX, 2007; Stuart W. Epperson, Salem Communications Corporation, 2004; Sam Moore, Thomas Nelson, Inc., 2003; Joseph R. Gregory, Kingsway LLC, 2002; Lester J. Woerner, Woerner Holdings, Inc, 2001; Rich DeVos, 2000, Orlando Magic; John J. Brogan, 1999; Thomas R. Pledger, Dycom Industries, 1998; Carl DeSantis, Rexall Sundown, Inc., 1997; Lowell “Bud” Paxson, Paxson Communications Corp., 1996; Richard S. Johnson, Johnson Investment Group, 1995; David Mahoney, Charles A. Dana Foundation, 1994; William G. Lassiter, Jr., W.G. Lassiter Co., Inc., 1993; Alexander W. Dreyfoos, Jr., The Dreyfoos Group, 1992; S. Bradford “Skeet” Rymer, Jr., Magic Chef, 1991; S. Truett Cathy, Chick-Fil-A, 1990; Stewart Morris, Stewart Information Services Corp. and the Hugh J. Andersen Foundation, 1989; Frederick M. Supper, Alexander Proudfoot Co., 1988; Henry J. Rolfs, Downtown/Uptown West Palm Beach, 1987; Theodore R. Johnson, United Parcel Service, 1986; Marshall E. Rinker, Sr., Rinker Materials Corp., 1985; and Sir John M. Templeton, Templeton World Funds Ltd., 1984.

Bank of America is a sponsor of this year's American Free Enterprise Day.

Bank of America is one of the world's largest financial institutions, serving individual consumers, small- and middle-market businesses and large corporations with a full range of banking, investing, asset management and other financial and risk management products and services. We serve approximately 51 million consumer and small business relationships with approximately 5,300 retail banking offices and approximately 16,350 ATMs and award-winning online banking with 30 million active users and more than 13 million mobile users. Bank of America is among the world's leading wealth management companies and is a global leader in corporate and investment banking and trading across a broad range of asset classes, serving corporations, governments, institutions and individuals around the world. Bank of America offers industry-leading support to approximately 3 million small business owners through a suite of innovative, easy-to-use online products and services. The company serves clients through operations in more than 40 countries. Bank of America Corporation stock (NYSE: BAC) is listed on the New York Stock Exchange.

Palm Beach Atlantic University is a private, independent university offering undergraduate, graduate and professional degrees in West Palm Beach, Orlando, Wellington and online. The University is dedicated to the integration of Christian principles to prepare students for lifelong learning, leadership and service.