New York City Hospitality Group

NYCHG is a networking group devoted exclusively to the restaurant and hospitality industry in New York City (but not limited to this market). Each member of the group has been hand selected and asked to join by one of the current members based on their tenure within this unique type of business that is unlike any other service sector in the world: hospitality. We sat down with Partner S. Leigh Wilson, III to discuss some critical aspects of NYCHG.

This tight collection of individuals has come together to help the Metro NYC foodservice marketplace. As a united team, NYCHG has become proactive for current clients and future prospects by staying up to date in this constantly evolving and complex industry. Through each of their intimate connections, NYCHG have formed an “all in one” resource to continue serving the foodservice marketplace. Total Food sat down with NYCHG’s President, S. Leigh Wilson, III recently to discuss the NYCHG’s mission.

Tell our readers about NYCHG. What are you offering the restaurant and hospitality industry that sets you apart from others?
The NYCHG is an exclusive networking group that caters to our current clients in the hospitality field.  What sets us apart from others is our books of business/tenure/testimonials from our clients within this industry.  We have to be hand selected by a current member based on prior work experience of how they have handled referrals in the past.

Where did the idea for NYCHG come from and why?
It started by already having a good handful of hospitality professionals that we all leaned on prior to formalizing a group setting.  Once we started asking the question to one another:

“Would it make sense to be meeting more formally to discuss our current business and how we can help each other in each profession?” We all answered that question based on the tremendous success of the group.

How did the primary principles at NYCHG meet? What prior restaurant and hospitality experience does each have and bring to the table?
Sam Goldfinger (aka “The Godfather”), Tara, Leigh, Larissa, Audrey, and Elke were the Founding Members.  We all knew together that we could start something really big if we put forth the effort and we were able to do just that.  Once you come as a guest to the group you need to prove through your contacts, etc. that you have significant clients within the hospitality industry that would recommend your services.

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How does NYCHG go about choosing the right members? How do you find them or how did they find you?
All word of mouth and based on your reputation within the hospitality field.  This is a small world once you’re in it and people talk…especially restaurant owners (which is ideal when you are doing great work that needs to be shared and endorsed by others).  It is also strictly based on member recommendations.  We have guidelines on our website about how we select our members: come to a meeting, apply to become a member (applications are on our website), meet with three members outside the normally scheduled meetings that you feel you could work with, then we need the approval from the rest of the group that you are a good fit and can contribute in some way for all of us.

Who are some of NYCHG’s notable clients?
The Charlie Palmer Group, Serafina Restaurant Group, LDV Hospitality, The Gerber Group, Jean Gorges, Landmarc, The One Group, David Burke Group, and Pinkberry.

When a new client uses NYCHG, do they have to utilize all of the services you offer or can they pick and choose what they need?
Usually they pick and choose, however it becomes really easy to hand them off to the next member once they have used one of us because the trust has been built.

What’s the biggest challenges NYCHG comes across when working on a new project and in your opinion what’s the restaurants biggest challenge when first opening?
When to hand off a client to another group member?  All of the categories we specialize in are very specific- but we do have a “menu of services” that we will be including on our website soon to make this easier for the end-user to understand.
This industry is notorious for issues upon first opening: liquor license approvals, letter grade ratings, sidewalk café grants, etc.  All the members have each had to deal with these issues one by one with our current clients and understand how to navigate through it all to get to the most important aspect for the restaurateur: getting their revenue returned to their bottom line. 

Seems like the NYCHG team all run or work for a different business beside NYCHG. How do you all devote enough time for NYCHG without sacrificing time away from your own business?
This is a typical challenge for all of us based on the levels we have each achieved within our professions, however as a group we have committed to one another every two weeks to ensure that we stay up to date on the industry trends on behalf of our clients and that we continue to know more than our competitors would.  This alone pays for the time that we sacrifice to be together and essentially makes this another extension of our businesses.

Does NYCHG work closely with any local and state restaurant associations?
Yes, several of us are a part of other hospitality organizations like NYSRA, NYC Hospitality Alliance, Nightlight association, Culintro, Management Program of Institute at the Institute of Culinary Education, and sit on the board for the American Institute of Food and Wine to name a few.

Any projects or plans to work on future projects outside of NYC, like in New Jersey or Connecticut?
All of us work throughout the country and are not limited to the NYC market.  Although we have not opened other chapters yet, we will be considering this in the years ahead as we continue to grow.