VANCOUVER — The foodservice industry lost one its giants yesterday with the passing of Leroy “Bus” Fuller, the man behind many of the industry’s most-successful casual-dining brands including Earls, Joey and the Cactus Club.
Fuller was born in Cincinnati, Ohio, in 1928 and opened his first restaurant, the Green and White Drive-In, in Sunburst, Montana, in 1954. He was also responsible for bringing the A&W concept to Western Canada when he became a franchisee of the chain in Edmonton, eventually building 10 units there before buying out the A&W franchisees for Vancouver Island and the Lower Mainland.
Fuller was instrumental in shaping the casual-dining segment in Canada. “His influence was massive,” says Ian Tostenson, president and CEO of the B.C. Restaurant & Food Services Association. “No one had done upscale casual dining in the concept of a chain restaurant before — and to have consistent quality is amazing.”
Through the countless business ventures he founded, including the Corkscrew Restaurant, Fuller’s and Controlled Foods, Fuller remained humble and true to his roots. He inspired and mentored a legion of employees, many of whom have gone on to forge successful careers. Last year, just shy of his 90th birthday, Fuller was presented with the Rosanna Caira Lifetime Achievement Award at KML’s Pinnacle Awards, where he charmed and regaled the audience of 500 industry leaders with stories from his long and illustrious career.
“Those fortunate enough to work alongside and know Bus have lost an inspiring mentor, a charismatic leader and a true friend,” the Fuller family said in a statement. “Bus leaves behind a legacy that exists because of his dedication, hard work and ability to surround himself with great people. He has touched the hearts of many and will be forever loved and missed.”
Fuller leaves his four sons, Stan, Jeff, Stewart and Clay and their families.