Sean Degnan


Originally from Rochester, NY, Sean’s family relocated to North Carolina when he was in Middle School. After graduating from high school, he spent a little time attending UNC before moving to Vegas. It was while in Las Vegas that he got his first serious kitchen job. After spending a few years gaining some serious work experience and knowledge, he decided to move back to North Carolina to finish school. He transferred to Appalachian State and decided to pursue a double major in English and Theatre. While in school, Sean continued his service industry career, eventually becoming the Executive Chef at the Emporium in Boone. Not one to idle, Sean simultaneously took a full course load, starred in several school productions, and directed and wrote plays for the university theatre all while working up to 60 hours a week. After graduating with honors in 2000, Sean continued to work at the Emporium as the Executive Chef before moving to Raleigh to work for Michael Dean’s. Starting as line cook, Sean eventually went on to open several concepts for the Rocky Top restaurant group as a Sous and eventually Executive Chef. During his time with the company, Sean made two life-lasting friendships with Tony Hopkins and Todd Ohle who were also working as chefs for restaurants within the Rocky Top umbrella. During this time the trio spent a lot of hours talking about the restaurant they wanted to open together some day. Due to his desire to have his own business, Sean decided he needed to learn about every aspect of running a restaurant. He then made the transition to General Manager while working at the Red Room. It was this valuable learning experience that enabled Sean to open bu•ku with Tony in 2010. The two are also expanding their business, partnering with their old friend Todd Ohle to open two new locations in the coming year. In July of 2017, Sean passed his level one wine certification with the Court of Master Sommeliers. In his downtime, Sean continues to stay busy. Four open-heart surgeries haven’t prevented him from leading a very active life. In addition to running his businesses, Sean is also a co-owner of the Raleigh Flyers, a professional Ultimate Frisbee team based in the area; the Chairman of the Board at A Place at the Table (A.P.A.T.T.), a local non-profit who’s mission is to open a pay what you can restaurant in the triangle; an avid tennis player; a husband to his wife Mandi; and a father to his sons- Finn (16) and Leo (1) with one more boy currently on the way.