This year, Restaurant Hospitality collected the 25 most powerful multiconcept operators across the country, or what we call the RH 25. With this list, there is no ranking. All 25 are powerful, and all 25 are companies to watch. See all concepts >>
Leadership: Jose Garces, founder and CEO; Judy Moore, senior vice president; Melissa Scully, chief culture officer; Rob Esplen, vice president of operations; Gregg Ciprioni, vice president of culinary operations
Concepts: 24 Italian Inspired Wood Fired restaurants, Amada (2 units), Buena Onda, Distrito (2 units), Garces Trading Company, JG Domestic Fine Food and Spirits, Okatshe, Olón, Ortzi, Rural Society, The Olde Bar, Tinto, Village Whiskey, Volvér, and Bayamo and Pinchos Tapas Bar on Norwegian Cruise Lines
Group systemwide sales: $45 million in fiscal 2016
What’s new: A second Buena Onda to open in Philadelphia, Village Whiskey coming to D.C., a new Latin marketplace
Mining the riches of Latin cuisine
Jose Garces is an Ecuadorian-American chef who once beat Bobby Flay on “Iron Chef.”
He grew up in Chicago, but over the past decade he has opened restaurants that take a tour through Latin cuisine and culture, from the Spanish tapas and small plates of Spain at Amada, to the Argentinian steakhouse Rural Society.
But the group refuses to be one-note.
Added into the mix is the European bistro Garces Trading Company, a Japanese izakaya Okatshe, and the American burger joint Village Whiskey. At the high end, Garces goes beyond labels with a 12-course, $125 tasting menu at 34-seat Volvér.
Perhaps most anticipated is the Latin marketplace Garces plans to bring to Washington, D.C., next year.
Details have not yet been revealed, but the group said it aims to create a dynamic culinary center with food stalls, shops and dining concepts.
And at a time when immigration issues are constantly in the headlines, Garces is positioning the group as a force for good.
In 2012, he launched a non-profit dedicated to serving Philadelphia’s immigrant community, hosting events like health clinics and offering restaurant-English-as-a-second-language classes.