Arlington Heights entrepreneur opens new chapter with Rewards21

  • Rewards21 in Rolling Meadows includes, from left, Nick Olinger, Justin Spitz, Co-founder and CEO Cary Chessick, Maddie Harris, Samantha Danzinger, Spencer Sandquist, Jess Trznadel and Erik Zavala.

    Rewards21 in Rolling Meadows includes, from left, Nick Olinger, Justin Spitz, Co-founder and CEO Cary Chessick, Maddie Harris, Samantha Danzinger, Spencer Sandquist, Jess Trznadel and Erik Zavala. COURTESY OF TAMI ANDERSON

  • Gary Gebenlain Co-founder of Rewards21

    Gary Gebenlain Co-founder of Rewards21

  • Sonya Majus

    Sonya Majus

Posted12/18/2016 1:00 AM

Cary Chessick of Arlington Heights became well-known in 1999 for founding, which offers discounts on meals at thousands of restaurants nationwide.

He left in 2011 and then started, an employee training program. While he still operates as a consulting firm, his main focus has returned to restaurants.


Earlier this year, he helped to launch Rewards21, based in Chicago and Rolling Meadows. The nationwide rewards program offers between 5 percent and 10 percent cash back on a meal. The program is linked to your credit card or debit card. So when your card is used at a participating restaurant, the discount appears on your monthly statement. No coupons are necessary.

"It is easy, discreet, seamless and can be used during any dining occasion as they dine and pay normally with their own card," Chessick said. "They no longer have to purchase, print and present a coupon as the reward is automatically linked to the card of their choice. Friction free dining plus cash back."

Longtime entrepreneur Chessick seems to find the pulse of consumers and this time he's opening yet another new chapter in his career with Rewards21. He also partnered with former vice president of strategy Gary Gebenlian, 40, of Chicago to co-found Rewards21.

Rewards21 includes about 21,000 member restaurants, and thousands of entertainment options such as concerts, sports and theater, flights, hotels and car rental companies, all nationwide.

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Local member restaurants, for example, can be found in Bloomingdale, Des Plaines, Elgin, Hoffman Estates, Mount Prospect, Naperville, Rolling Meadows, Schaumburg, St. Charles, Wauconda, and Wheeling.

"In the last 6 months, we have had just over 80,000 transactions in our partner restaurants coming from a user base of over 50,000 registered diners," Chessick said.

Rewards21 also has a philanthropic program called RewardItFoward. It allows participating restaurant owners to help other restaurant owners nationwide that are having a difficult time.

"Most restaurants are family businesses, run by entrepreneurs and sometimes, they have business or personal challenges that can put their family business at risk," Chessick said. "This can have a ripple effect throughout the family itself. We step in and leverage the power of our network of restaurants owners to help other network restaurant owners in need."



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•There's more to business than just the bottom line. We want to tell you about the people who make business work. Send news about people in business to Follow Anna Marie Kukec on LinkedIn and Facebook and as AMKukec on Twitter.

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