Chuck Lehman’s imagination for business, even in semi-retirement, stems from the kind of moxie that percolates early in life.
“I wanted to be in the restaurant business since I was 12,” says New York-born Lehman. “I set up my own pancake restaurant in my house.” No surprise, this son of a food wholesaler would be running three L.A. restaurants just four years out of college.
A self-described “terminal entrepreneur,” Lehman’s career has taken many turns, from restaurateur to business founder to maker of gourmet dog treats. “A good roll of the dice,” is what he calls his recent gig as a venture capitalist backing an audio tech startup.
But the scrappy kid from Long Island admits he had a lot to learn when he first arrived at UNLV. “I thought I knew it all when I got here,” Leman says, “but by the time I left, I realized that I didn’t.”
His knowledge came from numerous corners. By day, he studied food and beverage at UNLV. By night, he interned at the Sands alongside the Rat Pack, braving the hostile picket lines of the 1969 culinary strike. Never to be outdone, Lehman once organized his own strike against UNLV’s food service vendor. “I thought Hotel College students should be running the cafeteria,” Lehman says. “I was not successful.”
Ultimately, Lehman found success in most of his endeavors, but he never forgot where he came from. “I’ve always been a Rebel,” he says with a moxie-soaked grin, “and I’ll always be very proud of my affiliation with UNLV.”