Tera Sunder, Chief People Officer, Café Rio
Do what you Love, Share it with others
Tera has spent her entire 30 year career in the restaurant business. She began as a waitress at a bed-and-breakfast in Canada the summer she was 15 years old and continued by working her way through Point Park University while earning her degrees in psychology and criminal justice. Management positions with fast food, night clubs, and Jazz clubs followed.
Waiting tables at Ruth’s Chris Steak House in Pittsburgh while finishing her third degree in human resources, Tera met Jim Frye, whose concept- The Italian Oven- was just beginning to grow. Over five years she opened 23 restaurants, built 2, and was a district manager for two franchise groups.
Finding herself in Muncie, Indiana with a completed contract with her final Italian Oven Franchise, Tera’s strategy was to apply only to restaurant companies who did not have operations in Muncie. That strategy paid off and Brinker International hired her as a field recruiter based out of Chicago for its newly acquired Maggiano’s and Corner Bakery Brands. For three years she staffed five new markets and continued helping the growth of the Chicago market. During that time she moved to Dallas, closer to family and the Brinker Headquarters.
Tera joined Carlson Restaurants Worldwide as the director of recruiting in 1997, overseeing the recruiting activities for the companies’ TGIF Brand, Emerging Brands, and the Pick Up Stix Brand. In 2000 she was promoted to senior director of recruiting shortly before giving birth to twin boys and receiving her PHR.
In 2001 she left Carlson to join Starbucks Coffee Company, where she and her team covered 16 states, 2200 units, and a growth of 200 units per year. While all her experiences were terrific- surrounded by talented, supportive leaders and teams- Tera chose to leave the large corporate life behind in the spring of 2005.
Today, Tera lives and works in beautiful Salt Lake City, Utah. In the 22 months as chief people officer of Café Rio Restaurants, she has helped grow the company from 5 units to 15, with 5 additional units coming this year. Tera is responsible for all people initiatives, development, training, benefits, etc. For 6 months of this past year, she also oversaw the development and construction departments after the loss of the companies’ chief development officer.
Tera is active in industry activities and is a past committee member and speaker with Woman’s Food Service Forum. She continues to do keynotes speeches on networking at universities and private companies. She is also active in the Chamber of Commerce Governmental Affairs and Immigration Committees in Salt Lake City.