John O. Morisano & Mashama Bailey

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Managing Partner // Executive Chef & Partner of The Grey

    Diversity⸒ Equity & Inclusion (DEI)
    Inspirational Stories
    Social Justice

    John O. Morisano & Mashama Bailey: Biography at a Glance

    • John O. Morisano and Mashama Bailey are co-founders of The Grey restaurant in Historic Downtown Savannah.
    • The restaurant was the focal point of their book, Black, White, and The Grey, which details how the two built the restaurant in the Deep South, working to bridge biases and get people talking about race, gender, class, and culture.
    • As speakers, they examine their most painful and joyous times building the business, revealing how they came to understand their differences, recognize their biases, and continuously challenge themselves and each other to be better.
    • Mashama Bailey, executive chef and partner at The Grey and The Grey Market, also chairs the board of the Edna Lewis Foundation. She has been the subject of stories in USA Today, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, Condé Nast Traveler, Food & Wine, Ebony, Bon Appétit, Cherry Bombe, Garden & Gun, and Cosmopolitan; has starred in an episode of Chef's Table; and has won the James Beard Award for Best Chef (Southeast).
    • John O was previously a media startup entrepreneur, is the founding partner at The Grey and The Grey Market. Morisano oversaw the painstaking restoration of the dilapidated Greyhound bus station that became the restaurant's home, and directs the business operations. He has helped reshape and expand the mission of the Edna Lewis Foundation and serves as a board member and the treasurer.


    About John O. (Johno) Morisano

    Johno Morisano is the co-founder and Managing Partner of Grey Spaces, a group of restaurants and lifestyle and product offerings, headquartered in Savannah, Georgia. Morisano transitioned into restaurants in 2014 after a career in business when he, along with Co-founder and business partner Mashama Bailey, opened The Grey restaurant and, later, The Grey Market. At Grey Spaces, Johno oversees guest experience, business growth and strategy while Mashama, the Executive Chef, oversees all culinary creation and operations. Grey Spaces is opening additional restaurant locations in Austin, TX in Fall 2021 and an expansion is planned throughout the South over the next several years.

    After attending Pace University, Johno, a CPA, joined Price Waterhouse in its entertainment and media practice. After PW he then dove into the world of startups and turnarounds, spending the next twenty-five years working across the entertainment, media, technology and art landscapes in a variety of capacities—from operator to investor to business and creative advisor.

    Beginning in 2012, with the purchase of an abandoned Greyhound Bus Terminal in Savannah, Georgia, Morisano embarked on an entirely new career path which would take him into the world of restaurants and the national food scene when the Greyhound station became The Grey in 2014. In just a few short years, Morisano and Bailey went from a duo never heard of in the food world, to being important voices in the creation of exceptional guest experiences, foodways, and community and bridge-building related to race, class, culture and inclusion.

    Morisano has been actively engaged in philanthropy and not-for profit causes supporting a variety of organizations throughout much of his adult life. He has served as a governor and officer of the National Arts Club and United Nations Women. He currently sits on the boards of the Edna Lewis Foundation, an organization dedicated to preserving its namesake’s legacy in southern and American foodways, and Grey Matters Project, a community-oriented nonprofit he started in memory of a past team member at The Grey.

    Together with Mashama, he co-wrote Black, White and The Grey (Ten Speed Press/Penguin Random House), which explores the business partners’ challenges navigating race, class and culture while building businesses, relationships and community in the South.

    In 2019, in conjunction with Pulitzer Prize-nominated journalist Meg Coker, Johno co-founded The Current (, a nonprofit, investigative new bureau, covering Savannah and coastal Georgia.

    Johno is a sought-after guest at food conferences, universities and on podcasts speaking on the subjects of startups, entrepreneurship, community activation as a business strategy, race, class, culture, and foodways. When not at work, he is with his wife Carol, their dogs and likely eating food, drinking wine, and then exercising it off so he can start all over again.

    About Mashama Bailey

    Mashama Bailey is the award-winning Executive Chef and co-founder of Grey Spaces, a group of restaurants, lifestyle and product offerings, headquartered in Savannah, Georgia. Together with Co-Founder and business partner Johno Morisano, she opened the critically acclaimed restaurant, The Grey, for which she was awarded the James Beard Foundation’s Best Chef Southeast award, followed by its all-day counterpart The Grey Market.

    Born in the Bronx, raised in Queens, and with maternal roots from Waynesboro, GA, Mashama attended grammar school in Savannah and first learned to cook at the hands of the women in her family - with grandmothers, aunts, and her mother. Her formal education includes the Institute of Culinary Education (ICE) in New York City and LaVarenne in Burgundy, France.

    Prior to The Grey, Mashama’s career includes a dozen years cooking throughout New York City, the last four of which were at Prune on Manhattan’s Lower East Side, under the tutelage of Gabrielle Hamilton. In 2019 and with the premier of Netflix’s Chef’s Table Season 6, Mashama became the first African American chef to star on that show.

    Together with Johno, she co-wrote Black, White and The Grey (Ten Speed Press/Penguin Random House), which explores the business partners’ challenges navigating race, class, and culture while building businesses, relationships, and community in the South.

    Mashama is the Chairwoman of the Edna Lewis Foundation, whose mission is to honor and extend the legacy of Edna Lewis by creating opportunities for African Americans in the fields of cooking, agriculture, food studies, and storytelling. She is a sought-after guest at food conferences, universities and on podcasts speaking on the subjects of women in foodways, race, class, culture, and foodways history.

    She and Morisano will debuted two restaurants in Austin, TX, the Diner Bar and The Grey Market Austin, both in the forthcoming Thompson Austin Hotel. Mashama was named 2022's James Beard Award winner for Outstanding Chef.

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