Rising Star Restaurateur Donna Lee of Brown Bag Seafood Co. - Biography

Chicago, Illinois

May 2018

In four years, Donna Lee has opened four locations of her Brown Bag Seafood Co., where mix and match salads and boxes, plus tacos, sandwiches, plates, and tots (why not?) yield a menu with more than 50 SKUs and seemingly endless choices—built exclusively with sustainable seafood.

Lee got her industry start at 16, working as a hostess in Evanston. She moved onto finer things as a server at Boka during Giuseppe Tentori’s tenure, and then served as a general manager at fast-casual Noodles and Company. Later, Lee was as an associate publisher of DiningOut magazine, where she learned valuable lessons from the restaurant contacts she made.
When the entrepreneurial bug bit, Lee had stopped eating meat and noticed a gap in the fast-casual market. She filled it with Brown Bag Seafood Co., financing each shop organically and growing her team to 75. Lee plans to take the concept across the country, and she’s creating a culture that builds up the staff members who have helped Brown Bag get this far. Lee is a woman on a mission to feed you; give diners better, healthier take-out options; and build a counter-service empire that doesn’t take people or the health of the world’s seafood stocks for granted.