Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Contact: Nick Benson, 212-618-6778,
NYC Department of Small Business Services Launches NYC Food & Beverage Hospitality Council
Partnership Of Over 30 Leading Industry Professionals Will Support Sustained Business Growth And Help Workers Enhance Skills And Achieve Upward Mobility
New York — The New York City Department of Small Business Services today announced the creation of the NYC Food & Beverage Hospitality Council, an alliance of over 30 leading NYC industry professionals and businesses to promote the sustained growth of the local food and beverage industry. With over 19,000 restaurants across New York City, the industry is vital to the local economy.
To address the challenges facing the industry, the council’s goals include: 

  • Address the industry’s skills gap and labor shortage by promoting training opportunities that will also open the door to greater upward mobility for workers;
  • Help small business navigate the regulatory environment; and
  • Monitor industry trends and define operational changes businesses can implement to meet various challenges.

The council will offer a culinary-training and apprenticeship program for New Yorkers who are seeking employment opportunities in the industry. Participants will undergo an intensive skills training program and then be placed in a local restaurant where they will be employed and have the opportunity hone their newly-obtained skills.

"By aligning the needs of small businesses in the food service industry and the professional skills of workers, this council will promote economic growth and upward mobility for many New Yorkers," said Gregg Bishop, Commissioner of the NYC Department of Small Business Services. "My office is pleased to bring such a talented group of restauranteurs, chefs, and operators together to better understand the changing landscape within this industry and to offer guidance to budding entrepreneurs and employees in the industry."

The NYC Food & Beverage Hospitality Council is spearheaded by Michel Mroue, Founding Executive Director of the Food Service industry & Accommodation partnership. An accomplished hospitality leader in the Food & Beverage and accommodation market, Mroue has served in executive level positions for exceptional hospitality organizations, including the Quin Hotel, Interstate Hotels & Resorts, Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, Inc., Omni Hotels, and The New York Palace.

Advisory Board Members of the NYC Food and Beverage Council include:

  • Ahmass Fakahany President & CEO, Altamarea Group
  • Jimmy Haber, CEO, ESquared Hospitality Group
  • Marc Murphy, Chef & Owner, Benchmarc Restaurants Group
  • Alexandra Inzunza, Director of Operations, Benchmarc Restaurants Group
  • Doug Satzman, President & CEO, Le Pain Quotidien
  • Scott Milford, Vice President of Human Resources, Le Pain Quotidien
  • Ben Feilen, Vice President, NY Operations at OTG
  • Sabato Sagaria, Chief Restaurant Officer, Union Square Hospitality
  • Diana DeCicco, Training & Compliance, Union Square Hospitality
  • Martin Shapiro, Managing Partner, Myriad Restaurant Group
  • Eric Kaplan, Executive Vice President, Patina Restaurant Group
  • Geoff Gljiva, Vice President of Operations, Patina Restaurant Group
  • Philippe G. Massoud, CEO/Executive Chef, ilili & ilili Box
  • Peggy Rubenzer, SVP Human Resources, Shake Shack Burgers
  • Julia Heyer, Principle, Heyer Performance
  • Justin Morel, Vice President of Operations, Crafted Hospitality Group
  • Josh Siegel, Vice President of Business Operation and Legal, Momofuku Group
  • Evan Darnell, Managing Partner, Carla Hall Southern Kitchen
  • Anna Castellani, Managing Partner, Foragers
  • Rajan Lai, Vice President of Human Resources, Batali and Bastianich
  • John Rigos, CO-CEO, Aurify Brands
  • John Meadow, Founder & President, LDV Hospitality
  • Dean Martinus, President, Great Performances
  • Joann Makovitzky, CEO, One Five Hospitality
  • Mindy Birnbaum, General Counsel, Great Performances
  • Jennifer McMahon Elliott, Director of Business Operations, Great Performances
  • Paul Neuman, President, Neumans Kitchens
  • David Chang, Celebrity Chef, Momofuku & Momofuku Milk Bar
  • Will Guidara, Co-Owner Make it Nice NYC (Eleven Madison Park, The Nomad)
  • Claus Meyer, Celebrity Chef, President & CEO, Meyers USA
  • Jens Baake, COO, Meyers USA
  • Jeremy Merrin, Founder & CEO, Havana Central
  • Anita Lo, Celebrity Chef & Owner, Annisa
  • Amanda Cohen, Celebrity Chef & Owner, Dirt Candy
  • Stephen Goglia, President & CEO, Craveable Hospitality Group
  • Cleo Clarke, Vice President, Human Resources, EATALY
  • Amy Scherber, Owner, Amy's Bakery
  • Gregory Zamfotis, President & CEO, Gregory's Coffee
  • Lena Khoury, CO-Owner, Fika Coffee
  • David Mancini- Managing Director, Le-Bernardin
  • Vittorio Assaf, President & CEO, Serafina restaurant group
  • Leith Hill, Owner, Ellary's Greens
  • Cameron Clark, Vice President & General Manager, Hornblower Cruises
  • Steven Kamali, President & CEO, Steven Kamali Hospitality
  • Andrew Rigie, Executive Director, The NYC Hospitality Alliance
  • Keith E. Durst, President & CEO, Durst Consulting Group
  • Kevin Dugan, NYC Regional Director, NYSR

"We can think of few things that are as urgent as improving New York's job quality while creating opportunities for employers as well as workers," said Patricia Jenny, chair of NYC Workforce Funders, a collaboration of private and corporate foundations housed at The New York Community Trust. "Continuing our 12-year partnership with the Department of Small Business Services, we are pleased to support the NYC Food and Beverage Hospitality Council."

"The NYC Food & Beverage Hospitality Council will be the driving force behind improving job quality in NYC and improving skills that we are facing on a daily basis," said Peggy Rubenzer, Senior Vice President for Human Resources, Shake Shack Burgers.

"I am gratified by the timely initiative spearheaded by the Mayor's office and the NYC Department of Small Business Services to support and preserve New York as a global culinary force and to support needed talent sourcing and career development," said Ahmass Fakahany, CEO & Owner, Altamarea Group. "The industry has faced multiple and concurrent headwinds recently and partnering with the city to proactively address the impact of these headwinds is encouraging and welcome."

"The Food and Beverage Council is a great city initiative working to bring together the hardworking and dedicated members of the culinary industry here in NYC," said Jimmy Haber, CEO, ESquared Hospitality. "Myself and ESquared Hospitality wholeheartedly support the council and we look forward to next steps."

"If you want to witness the diversity of New York City, look no further than our restaurant industry, which embodies it," said Andrew Rigie, Executive Director, NYC Hospitality Alliance. "Restaurants are vital to the local economy and social landscape of our city, so I'm thrilled Mayor de Blasio is making us a priority by forming the NYC Food & Beverage Council. From workforce development to regulatory reform, we're optimistic that this council of government and industry leaders will spearhead initiatives to support the vitality and growth of our great industry. I look forward to representing the hospitality industry on the NYC Food & Beverage Council and thank the mayor and his team for the invitation to be engaged in this important work."

"I am encouraged by the open dialogue between government and local businesses and look forward to collaboratively tackling the tough issues facing our industry as a member of the NYC F&B Council," said Doug Satzman, President & CEO of Le Pain Quotidien.

"I am deeply encouraged that the City has recognized the troubles that our industry is facing and has established the NYC Food and Beverage Council to find the answers many are looking for," said Kevin Dugan, Regional Director, NYS Restaurant Association. "With the impressive collection of professionals on the council I am confident that we will be able to find solutions that will benefit the whole of the restaurant industry of New York City."

"The participating restaurateurs, chefs, and operators lending their expertise and leadership to the NYC Food and Beverage Council represents some of the best and brightest in our industry," said Sabato Sagaria, MS, Chief Restaurant Officer, Union Square Hospitality Group. "I look forward to collaborating with them and serving as a sounding board for the changing landscape and demands that our industry and our employees face."

"The Food and Beverage industry in New York City is among the best in the world, and in order for us to remain at the top, there is a need to constantly develop talent," said Eric Kaplan Executive Vice President and Vice President Geoff Gljiva, Patina Restaurants Group. "I believe that this council, along with City officials, have a great opportunity to make a positive, long lasting impact on the future workforce."

"Given the number of restaurants that B&BHG operates in NYC, we live with this challenge on a daily basis and I believe the NYC Food & Beverage Hospitality Council is a critical priority for our industry," said Rajan Lai, SVP Human Resources, Batali & Bastianich Hospitality Group.

"My hope for the NYC Food and Beverage Council is to be both a supportive soundboard and to help inform the administration of the urgent and pressing issues the NYC Restaurant Industry currently faces," said Martin Shapiro, Managing Partner, Myriad Restaurant Group. "These issues not only greatly impact our businesses but consequently our employees & customers as well. The restaurateurs, chefs, and operators on the council are here to support the industry and the administration and help insure that our industry continues to survive, thrive and contribute to the health and welfare of the economy of our great city."

About NYC Department of Small Business Services Industry Partnerships
This and other industry partnerships work with employers, industry and trade organizations, organized labor, non-profits, training providers and educational institutions, private philanthropy, and workforce organizations to promote New York City as an attractive place to do business. In addition, the Industry Partnerships address the needs of workers by creating formal career paths to good jobs, reducing barriers to employment, and sustaining or increasing middle-class jobs. The executive and founding directors of the Industry Partnership teams, who sit at the Department of Small Business Services (SBS), have extensive working experience from the priority sectors targeted by Career Pathways: construction; food service; healthcare; industrial/manufacturing; and technology. The executive and founding directors of each Industry Partnership serve as lead conveners, original researchers, and thought-leaders in each of those five sectors to foster systemic changes in New York City.

About the NYC Department of Small Business Services (SBS)
SBS helps unlock economic potential and create economic security for all New Yorkers by connecting New Yorkers to good jobs, creating stronger businesses, and building a fairer economy in neighborhoods across the five boroughs. For more information on all SBS services, go to, call 311, follow us on Facebook and Twitter.