Leadership

Sam Bakhshandehpour named global CEO of José Andrés Group

The Washington, D.C.-based multiconcept operator also received an investment to fuel its growth.
Jose Andres
José Andrés is moving to an executive chair role with the restaurant group, but remains a creative force, the company said. | Photo courtesy of José Andrés Group.

José Andrés’ restaurant group has a fresh infusion of cash and has tweaked its leadership team to set the multi-concept group up for the next wave of growth.

The Washington, D.C.-based José Andrés Group (JAG), which operates about 40 restaurants, has won an unspecified growth investment from RockCreek, a global firm with more than $17 billion in assets.

In addition, Sam Bakhshandehpour, previously president of JAG, has been named Global CEO of the restaurant group. José Andrés, meanwhile, will continue to serve as founder and executive chairman, and the company’s “creative force,” the announcement said.

“Sam understands the power of restaurants to transport us, for food to be the language of connection, and how we can be a part of communities in a meaningful way, all over the world,” Andrés said in a statement.

Sam Bakhshandepour

Sam Bakhshandehpour. |Photo courtesy of JAG.

Moving into the president seat is Ron Parker, who will also retain the title of COO, a position he has held since 2022. And Nestor Nova was named chief financial officer. Nova was previously the CFO of Sizzle Acquisition Corp., according to his LinkedIn profile.

Joining the board with the investment is RockCreek managing director Justin Heyman. Also joining the board is Carlota Andrés, senior associate of partnerships at the food-tech startup Wonder—and she is also José Andrés’ daughter.

The company did not characterize the RockCreek investment, but the announcement noted that EagleBank is leading a debt refinancing for JAG.

There are other promotions: Chef Rick Billings was named chief culinary officer; and Chef Carles Tejedor now has the role of chief creative officer. Both are described as long-standing culinary leaders with JAG.

The announcement comes at a time when JAG is preparing for significant expansion.

The group will be managing all food and beverage and new restaurants for the soon-to-open Andaz Brand hotel in Miami Beach, which is being developed by Hyatt Hotels in a complete renovation of the property formerly known as The Confidante. It’s scheduled to open later this year.

In West Palm Beach, JAG will also handle F&B for a luxury waterfront residential development called Olara. The project will reportedly include a restaurant there, but details have not yet been revealed.

And this summer, the group will have a series of new openings in partnership with Simon Property Group, including the debut of Bazaar Mar and Bar Centro at The Shops at Crystals on the Las Vegas Strip. The JAG concept Zaytinya is scheduled to open a bit later at The Forum Shops at Caesars Palace. New concepts will also come to Stanford Shopping Center in Palo Alto.

Founded originally as ThinkFoodGroup with co-founder Rob Wilder, JAG is known for full-service concepts such as Bazaar by José Andrés (and variations like Baazar Mar), as well as barmini, Jaleo, Zaytinya, Oyamel and China Chilcano. In addition, the group operates several “FastGood” brands, including the plant-based Beefsteak, Butterfly Tacos and Pepe.

In 2021, Andrés also founded José Andrés Media, which includes various TV shows, podcasts and books. The chef also co-founded World Central Kitchen, a nonprofit that feeds people in need in the aftermath of disaster and war. And he has piloted the development of the Global Food Institute at George Washington University.

The chef was also recently the keynote speaker at the National Restaurant Show earlier this month, where he urged restaurant operators to use their power as a force for change.

“José’s vision of food as an agent of change has had an undeniable impact globally,” said Bakhshandehpour, in a statement. “Staying true to our higher purpose is crucial at this inflection point in our growth trajectory, which is what unites our talented team and attracts like-minded partners.”

 

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