Lisa Loup, Food Fight Restaurant Group

IB’s Professional of the Week is the premier way to meet Dane County’s professionals. This week features Lisa Loup, event director, Food Fight Restaurant Group​.

What are the most challenging and rewarding aspects of your job and why?

The most challenging aspect of my job is the pressure I put on myself to “wow” my clients. For me, a wedding reception with 300 guests and a business lunch for 20 colleagues are equally important. Each event has a host and each host wants his or her event to go off without a hitch. I appreciate that objective and will do everything possible to meet and far exceed their expectations. There are times when that can be particularly challenging.

On the flip side, that pressure to knock their socks off is extraordinarily rewarding when everything comes together. To watch a CEO operate in his or her element without worrying about the food, or to see the mother of the bride kick up her heels on the dance floor instead of spending time on the details, that is how I know that my work has been successful.

I recently hosted an event to showcase Food Fight restaurants for past and prospective clients. For months, I agonized about how it would be received. When the response came back with overwhelming positivity, the rush carried me for days.

Who do you look up to or admire in business and why?

Over the last 20 years, I have had the opportunity to work with countless managers and leaders who have shared nuggets of expertise that have guided me along my journey.

I admire people who lead with purpose, communicate their goals and objectives, build up those around them, and hold themselves to the same high expectations they have for others. In the event industry in the Madison area, I have been fortunate to find many of these leaders. First, they say yes. Then they figure out how to make it happen. They live at Destination Madison (formerly GMCVB), NACE (National Organization for Catering and Events), at entertainment companies, and many of the incredible event venues around Madison.

What has been the high point of your career so far?

My role within Food Fight did not exist during my first five years with the company. I had been dreaming it up for some time, the idea of creating a role that would speak perfectly to my strengths but also challenge me for years to come. When I finally felt confident enough to present my idea to the CEO, it turned out to be a position that was already being considered by the executive team. I was hired almost immediately.

As with any new position, it has evolved over the last three years. In the end, it has turned out to be an even more perfect position than I could have imagined.

Thinking back on your career, what advice would you give your 21-year-old self?

First, I would cross my fingers that my 21-year-old self would listen. Then I would tell her she’s right, that hard work and authentic commitment will pay off. I would encourage her to find an employer that trusts and respects her, and tell her, for the love of Pete, do not wear heels during events!



What would you say are the best things about living and/or working in Dane County?

I really love this moment that we are in right now in Madison. The energy and excitement in the hospitality and tourism industry are alive like never before. I see more collaboration across the hospitality and tourism industry, which has resulted in an increase in events that choose Madison as their host city. The growth and attention can be a little daunting, but the opportunities that come with it are incredible. There is nothing that feels better than hearing someone talk about the amazing place we call home after his or her first visit. Food Fight Restaurant Group is keeping pace with this amazing growth by continuously adding restaurants that meet the changing tastes of our residents and visitors.

Do you have any secret talents or abilities that people would be surprised to discover?

I am an accomplished belly dancer; my most notable talent would be belly dancing while balancing a sword on the crown of my head. It’s been a good number of years since I cracked out my coin belt, but I’m sure the skills are still there. Sword dancing is like riding a bike, right?

What are your guilty pleasures?

I love to eat a creamy, delicious ice cream on the couch without interruption. In fact, I don’t enjoy ice cream in any other setting. If my family goes out for ice cream, I don’t have any. Ice cream, for me, is to be eaten from a mug on the couch, not anywhere else. And it should be eaten without interruption. Everyone knows not to talk to me while I’m having my ice cream moment. It’s my reward. I earned it.

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