Deacon RJ Dourney

Retired CEO Cosi, Retired COO Au Bon Pain

A seasoned entrepreneur and restaurant executive, Deacon RJ has successfully developed multiple companies throughout the US, Europe, Central America and Asia. The founder of Fortis Advisors (, a leading executive development and strategic advisory group serving clients across the US with leadership development, strategy, and growth, assisting both owners and management. Fortis has successfully developed over two thousand restaurants throughout the world and while consulting to real estate, senior living community developers, investment bankers, technology and restaurant companies move their businesses to the next level.

A veteran CEO, the Deacon has served as chief executive of both public and privately held companies including Integrity Community Partners, Cosi, and The Upper Crust Pizzeria. Deacon RJ is also the founder of Hearthstone Associates, formerly one of the largest privately held restaurant companies in New England. The Deacon was also COO of Au Bon Pain, VP of North America for Applebee’s Restaurants. Deacon RJ has served on the board of directors of public and private companies including Cosi, Big Boy Restaurants, Boloco, Jeepers, YiDaLand and The Upper Crust Pizzeria and is currently Chairman of Zullee Mediterranean Grill and TOMS King, one of Burger King’s largest franchisees. 

Ordained in 2022, Deacon RJ has long committed much of his time to the Catholic Church and now primarily serves the Church in the Diocese of Burlington, Vermont. Assigned to a Collaborative of three parishes in Southern Vermont, Deacon RJ also brings Christ to incarcerated men through prison ministry in Vermont. In addition, the Deacon serves Bishop Coyne at the Diocesan level in a strategic role focused on evangelization and parish life. He also serves The Brotherhood of Hope on the Hope Expansion Council.

Deacon RJ is a Distinguished Fellow at Catholic University where he serves on the Board of Advisors for the Ciocca Center School of Entrepreneurship. The Deacon attended Villanova University where he studied business and economics. 

RJ and his wife Nancy are blessed with three adult daughters and live in Chester, Vermont.