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Steve Palmer


Best-selling author, TedX speaker, James Beard semifinalist, industry leader, mental health advocate, restaurateur, and more, Steve Palmer is founder, managing partner and most significantly, chief vision officer, of the nationally recognized Indigo Road Hospitality Group (IRHG). The Charleston-based hospitality company has thoughtfully grown from one restaurant to more than twenty throughout the country, along with a growing portfolio of independent hotels.  

Palmer attributes the company’s successful growth to his loyal and dedicated team. He maintains the philosophy that great service starts with well cared for employees. By promoting from within and continuing to create new opportunities for his staff, Palmer has developed a strong company culture that is reflected within the walls of each of his concepts, resulting in an unwavering level of hospitality experienced by guests and patrons. 

Beginning as a dishwasher at the age of 13, Palmer’s hospitality career has guided him from the kitchens of Atlanta to F&B Director roles, to consulting in award-winning destinations, and courting guests with his unmistakable charm when working the floor.

With numerous wins under his belt, along with a few learning lessons, Palmer launched what would become his proudest accomplishment in 2016 when he co-founded Ben’s Friends with friend Mickey Bakst. The food and beverage industry support group offering hope, fellowship, and a path forward to professionals who struggle with substance abuse and addiction. He has been recognized by The New York Times, Forbes, NPR, Food & Wine, and more.  

An avid proponent of supporting people and communities, Palmer is active on industry boards, leads annual fund-raising events and continues to ask how he can help.