No. 1: Dave Prokupek
Start with some meatballs and a steel paddle (and a good smash), and you end up with not only a darn fine hamburger, but a business that Forbes magazine recently named the No. 1 among its top 100 most-promising companies. Sure, success takes more than sizzle, and whatever that is, Prokupek must have it: Revenue for the company soared by 72 percent from 2010 to 2011, from $69 million to $118.7 million, and contracts are in place to expand the chain's footprint by more than 300 stores — to a total of 450 — by 2014. To the ambitious company president, however, that's nothing. Twenty years from now, he sees the concept with up to 3,000 locations. He's going to need a lot more steel paddles.