Founder & CEO Stephan Fortier is a highly driven and passionate renaissance man who combines his love for film, fashion, design and food with savvy business acumen and entrepreneurial edge to continuously bring his visions to life. With 25 years of experience as an entrepreneur, he launched 30 start ups including a magazine (Ocean Drive Canada), a fashion line of custom sandals (Tuccia Di Capri), a modeling and talent agency as well as an advertising agency (Talent), and 21 restaurants/clubs from NYC, Miami, LA, Montreal & NE.
As an innovative entrepreneur, designer, restaurateur and filmmaker, Fortier - who attended the New York Film Academy at Universal Studios Hollywood - sees the world through a camera lens with every new project as a cinematic production of wonder. To each venture he brings his well-rounded financial scholastics, boasting a Bachelor’s in Accounting from The University of Quebec in Montreal (UQAM), and also studied the Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) and Fellowship of the Canadian Security Institute (FCSI) courses. However, some might argue that Fortier was a prodigy in business, because at the young age of 19, while still pursuing his Bachelor’s degree, he opened his first restaurant; Ocean Drive. Fortier’s Ocean Drive restaurant offered a unique and sophisticated supper club experience geared toward the city’s upper class. While fulfilling, Fortier always looked for a challenge. So, it was only fitting that the subsequent opening of Altitude 737 created success through the daring concept of a restaurant with 360-degree views of the city and sat atop the 4 top floors of the tallest building in Montreal. A massive club, lounge with outdoor terraces and restaurant, it attracted more than 3,000 guests daily and became one of Canada’s highest grossing F&B operation.
Also dabbling in the world of beauty and fashion, Fortier founded Talent Corp, an all-in-one entertainment group, that comprised modeling and talent agency needs, advertising and promotions; as well as a fashion and film institute. Almost prescient to his future in the Magic City, Fortier also published and launched the Canadian edition of Miami’s glossy society magazine Ocean Drive. Exercising his inner artist, he thoroughly enjoyed the creative freedom of the publishing world.
The inspiring energy of New York called to Fortier and in the start of the new millennium he opened Pazza Notte, now a Midtown institution. The bustling Italian bistro and lounge was one of the first restaurant concepts to mix entertainment with a dining experience. With success in the big apple he later launched Loft, a Casbah-inspired bi-level restaurant and lounge hotspot, which attracted a celebrity clientele and organized some of the most memorable soirees for A-list celebrities.
Fortier’s charismatic touch continued in the magic city of Miami with the famed Maison D’Azur, a fine dining Mediterranean concept at The Angler’s and then later with a second location at the Astor hotel in Miami Beach, which included Layla, a fashionable Moroccan eatery. His reputation for transforming everyday life into unforgettable experiences took him to the sleepy town of Providence, Rhode Island where he was challenged with the launch of five concepts in a six-month time frame.
Perhaps Fortier’s most ambitious and highest-profile project, Tosca, opened in Miami in 2011. Focused on extremely rare and exclusive ingredients flown in daily from all around the world, Tosca took fine dining and guest experience in the Miami culinary landscape to a new level. With a revolutionary approach, inspired by Fortier’s favorite films of the Golden Age and Italian film “auteur” Fellini, Tosca was reminiscent of the carefree lifestyle of the late 1950s Mediterranean Riviera. Fortier wanted to create a concept that told a story, transporting guests into another time and place, offering a truly novel experience. Tosca was one of the most reviewed and acclaimed US concepts of 2012 and yielded an incredible guest average of over $1,000.
Fortier’s latest F&B project, La Gazzetta in downtown Miami, uniquely combined fine dining and top quality ingredients in a fun and entertaining bistro ambiance. The restaurant opened in a record 19 days after taking its possession. The level of difficulty in delivery fine dining quality food and service at bistro prices, combined with the incredible organization needed in fully redesigning and renovating the space while setting up operations to open in 19 days made La Gazzetta Fortier’s greatest challenge to date. La Gazzetta quickly became a darling of the press and locals alike.
“We have developed a reputation for creating some of the most glamorous and exciting ‘scenes’ in the hospitality business,” explains Fortier. “A magical guest experience separates restaurants that thrive versus those that survive. We know that in today’s world, it’s not only about great food and exceptional service anymore, it’s mostly about creating the experience…the escape.”
Nowadays, Fortier enjoys being on the other side of the operations, as a creative consultant. His new venture, The Fortier Creative Group, incorporates many divisions that allow him to touch upon all of his passions: interior design, restaurant & fashion concept creation, print & video campaigns, fashion & lifestyle magazine, feature films, image making, business start ups and real estate. When Fortier is not dreaming up his next production, he can be found spending time with his wife Mirla and two sons Beck and Kaj.