Sam Covelli: Owner & CEO of Covelli Enterprises / Panera Bread Franchisee


Sam Covelli: Owner & CEO of Covelli Enterprises / Panera Bread FranchiseePhoto: Photo courtesy of Covelli Enterprises

Entrepreneur Sam Covelli is owner and CEO of Covelli Enterprises.  For nearly 60 years the company has been headquartered in Covelli’s hometown of Warren, OH, and it currently employs 35,000 people, including 2,000 in the Mahoning Valley.

The company is the single largest franchisee of Panera Bread and is the 9th largest restaurant franchisee in the nation with nearly 300 Panera Bread bakery-cafés, 6 Dairy Queen locations and 5 O’Charley’s restaurants in eight states. 2018 marked the 20th anniversary of the company’s first Panera location in the Mahoning Valley that opened in Boardman in 1998. In September 2018, Covelli relocated that very first cafe to South Avenue, and it now features a drive thru, delivery service, and a modern, updated store design. The company operates 17 restaurants in the Mahoning Valley area including Panera Bread cafes, Dairy Queen location’s, and two O’Charley’s restaurants.

Covelli Enterprises has a long history of giving back to the community. In 2019 alone, Covelli Enterprises donated more than $32 million dollars in unsold bread product and monetary support to local hunger relief agencies and other non-profit organizations with a special focus on benefitting children, autism, breast cancer, cancer, animals, veterans, and education.

In 2017, Sam Covelli and his wife Caryn, donated $2 million to the Cleveland Clinic’s state-of-the-art Taussig Cancer Center. The same year, Covelli donated $1 million to Youngstown State University Athletics, a gift that will be used to maintain the athletic facilities that make up the soon-to-be-named Covelli Sports Complex including the soccer field, track and field facilities, and women’s softball field.

Covelli recently celebrated more than 35 years as the largest local contributor to the U.S. Marine Corps Toys for Tots program, with a $16,000 dollar annual donation. Every August the company hosts the Panerathon 10K/2 Mile walk/run in Youngstown, OH, which has hosted nearly 60,000 people and raised over $2.5 million for the Joanie Abdu Breast Comprehensive Breast Care Center at St. Elizabeth Health Center over the past twelve years. 

In 2012, Covelli made the largest donation in history to The Ohio State University Athletics to assist in funding the construction of a multi-sport arena, Covelli Arena. The $10 million dollar gift will provide critical amenities for student-athletes in men’s and women’s volleyball, gymnastics, fencing and wrestling. Construction began in mid-2017 and is expected to be finalized in 2019. Covelli has also had the naming rights to the previously named Chevrolet Centre in downtown Youngstown, now called the Covelli Centre, since 2009. The $42 million arena hosts concerts, hockey games and special events with its large seating capacity of 7,000.

Covelli Enterprises supports many additional non-profits including Salvation Army, Disabled American Veterans, American Heart Association, Potential Development, Rich Center for Autism, and more. For his commitment to the community, Covelli was recognized with the 2012 Salvation Army’s Distinguished Community Service Award as well as the American Red Cross Spirit of the Mahoning Valley Award, and he was named 2013 Corporate Philanthropist of the Year in the Mahoning Valley. In 2014, Cleveland Clinic nominated Covelli Enterprises for the Association of Fundraising Professionals Greater Cleveland National Philanthropy Day Corporate Leadership Award. In 2015, the company received Business First’s Corporate Caring Award for its support of Central Ohio hunger relief agencies.In 2018, Sam Covelli was awarded the Tribune Chronicle and Trumbull 100’s Community Star Award for his philanthropy throughout the Mahoning Valley where the company is headquartered.

Covelli Enterprises continually wins awards for exceptional service, cleanliness, customer service and expansive growth of its locations. For all his achievements, Covelli has earned numerous awards including:  Ohio Entrepreneur of the Year, Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year for Northeast Ohio, YSU Alumni Association Distinguished Citizen of the Year, and Youngstown Area Restaurateur of the Year.Covelli attributes his success to the hiring of dedicated and passionate employees who deliver superior customer service in clean and friendly environments.

Covelli has received proclamations from U.S. Senators John Glenn and, now Governor, Mike DeWine, Congressmen Tim Ryan and  Steve LaTourette, Ohio Senator Harry Meshel, and the Mayors of Warren, Niles, and Youngstown, OH as well as Sharon, PA. Covelli was the founder of the Ronald McDonald House Charities of the Mahoning Valley and Western Pennsylvania, and was a founding sponsor of the Giant Eagle LPGA Tournament Classic.

He currently serves on the Board of Trustees for the Cleveland Clinic, Velosano Steering Committee, Warren Economic Development Foundation Board, Committee for Funds for Warren’s Future, Western Reserve Port Authority, and Diocese of Youngstown Blue Ribbon Executive Committee. Covelli also serves as Grand Commodore of the Association of Ohio Commodores, an organization with the mission of advancing economic development within the state of Ohio.

Sam and his wife Caryn proudly live in Warren, OH and have three children: Candace, Albert and Danielle who are all involved in leadership within the Covelli Enterprises organization. They recently became the proud grandparents of Theo and Giorgia Covelli.  

Hear the CEOs You Should Know podcast with Sam Covellli below.

Visit Covelli Enterprises: HERE


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