Veteran chain builders Paul Fleming and Rick Federico have signed on as backers and directors of Boqueria, a six-unit tapas chain poised to enter its third market.
The pair will assist Boqueria founder Yann de Rochefort in securing capital and rolling his 13-year-old brainchild into other major metropolitan areas, according to the announcement. Boqueria currently operates four restaurants in New York City, where it was founded, and two in Washington, D.C. A Chicago opening is scheduled for later this year.
Fleming and Federico previously collaborated on the rollout of P.F. Chang’s China Bistro, the Asian polished-casual chain that Fleming co-founded (the “P.F.” stands for Paul Fleming). Federico served as CEO of Chang’s, which grew to include the Asian fast casual now known as Pei Wei Asian Diner.
Both bring deep operational and chain-building experience to Boqueria. Fleming was also a co-founder of Fleming’s Prime Steakhouse & Wine Bar, now owned by Outback Steakhouse parent Bloomin’ Brands, and a onetime franchisee of Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse. He remains involved with 11-unit Paul Martin’s American Grill, a venture he created with fellow veteran Brian Bennett.
Federico, a protege of legendary restaurateur Bill Regas, spent much of his career with Steak and Ale and Chili’s Grill & Bar parent Brinker International before taking the helm of Chang’s. He has also served as chairman of Jamba Juice and remains a director of Domino’s Pizza.
The first Boqueria was opened by de Rochefort in 2006 in the Flatiron section of New York City. It describes its fare as authentic Spanish dishes inspired by El Mercado de la Boqueria, a market in Barcelona.
“Boqueria has a fantastic opportunity to grow and bring this wonderful food and culture to more people,” Fleming said in the announcement of his new affiliation.
Added Federico, “There is an exciting opportunity to introduce more unique restaurants like Boqueria.”