National Restaurant Association and National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation president and CEO Dawn Sweeney issued the following statement regarding the June 9 passing of Norman Brinker, 78, retired chairman of Dallas-based Brinker International:

"Today, the restaurant industry mourns the loss of a true industry icon. Norman Brinker was not only a successful restaurateur and business man, he was a mentor [who] so many industry leaders have looked to throughout their careers for guidance and leadership.

"His first job was as a busboy, and he rose to become one of the most well-known restaurant CEOs in the industry's history. Norman truly embodied the entrepreneurial spirit, and his innovations in casual dining in many ways changed the way America eats out today.

"Norman received many honors and recognition in his life. Among them, he was the recipient of the National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation prestigious College of Diplomates Award in 1989 and was named the Ambassador of Hospitality in 1999.

"The National Restaurant Association and the National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation extends deepest condolences to the Brinker family."

A full obituary on Brinker is available here from the Washington Post.