2017 Airport Business Top 40 Under 40: Stefanie Rakes

Nov. 3, 2017

Stefanie Rakes
Director, Business Development
Le Duff America 
AGE: 37

  • Alma Mater: University of Texas at Austin, BBA and MBA
  • What is your dream job? Chief Development Officer
  • Who has impacted your career the most? My mentor and friend, Sheryl Fox
  • If I could go anywhere, it would be: Tibet – I love to experience other cultures
  • If I could have dinner with anyone living or dead: Sheryl Sandberg
  • Favorite airport restaurant/eatery: Gachi House of Sushi at BWI

Stefanie Rakes has always loved food and travel. So when she was working with Yum! Brands a few years ago and a position opened up to manage airport development, Rakes knew it would be a perfect fit.

“What I like most about it is that it’s a pretty competitive industry, it’s very fast paced and also a lot of fun,” she said. “There’s a lot of very sharp, intelligent people that also like to have a lot of fun.”

As director of nontraditional development for Le Duff America, Rakes manages airport development for la Madeleine French Bakery & Cafe, Brioche Dorée Parisian Bakery Café, and Bruegger’s Bagels in North and Central America.

She helped to launch the first Brioche Dorée in Central America at San Jose International Airport in Costa Rica and also leads an innovative cobrand concept test of Bruegger’s Bagels with Jamba Juice.

Rakes spent several years at Yum! Brands, where she managed international development for Pizza Hut Express across 12 international markets and contributing to concept development and the opening of more than 50 new nontraditional locations. She also led the channel management of Pizza Hut, Taco Bell, and KFC in airports across the U.S.

Rakes played a critical role in managing the airport development launch of Banh Shop, a Vietnamese concept serving Saigon street food, a diverse collection of dishes defined by the passionate cooks on the streets of Vietnam. The Banh Shop concept is one-of-a kind, bringing new excitement and healthy options to the airport traveler’s experience, and will soon open its fourth airport location in North America.

“Airport concessions are kind of on a global platform. It’s a very high volume business, it’s a very high profile business,” she said. “A lot of people visit concessions every day and it’s a fast growing and fast paced business.

She is a member of the board of the Prestonwood on the Park neighborhood association and mentor for high school students through UT Outreach Dallas.