Carmen Rossi (’12) was honored with the 2019 Outstanding Young Alumnus Award by the Northern Illinois University Alumni Association. Carmen is the founder and CEO of 8 Hospitality, founder of Chicago Knight Life, and managing partner of City Lake Law.
In addition to achieving his dream of becoming an attorney, Carmen has amassed a variety of business interests throughout his journey. Carmen began several of his small businesses while he was still an undergraduate student. About a year after graduating from law school, Carmen was working for a civil litigation firm when he decided to invest in the Hubbard Inn, a restaurant property in the River North neighborhood of Chicago. Four years later, his restaurant holdings has grown to 13 and two more are scheduled to open this year. Today, his restaurant management company, 8 Hospitality Group, employs more than 900 people.
Carmen splits his time between overseeing his restaurants, real estate development and practicing law in his own law firm, City Lake Law, which focuses on government administrative law and lobbying. In 2014, Carmen started Chicago Knight Life, an outreach program that helped connect his hospitality portfolio by offering meals and companionship to the clients of Chicago-based charities. Carmen also serves on the boards of several business groups. He was appointed by Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel to the City of Chicago Landmark Commission and by former Governor Bruce Rauner to the Illinois Economic Development Board.