Our founder and chief strategist, Aaron Allen, literally grew up in his family’s seafood restaurant: he was taken directly to the restaurant from the hospital before going home, the head waitress pulled his first tooth, and he got his first job rolling silverware as soon as he could be propped up on a barstool.
Aaron considers himself very lucky because he always knew what he wanted to do with his life. When he founded this firm, he made sure that every principal and associate shared his outlook on work: our passions and professions are one and the same.
After leaving his family’s restaurant, Aaron held nearly every imaginable position in the back and front of house. By age 19, he was running a $10m food and beverage operation at a 625-room resort. By 20, he was overseeing a $4m gulf-front Caribbean-themed restaurant that served over 1,800 covers each day. Having cut his teeth in operations, Aaron transitioned to marketing, including management posts at the Florida Restaurant Association, the Florida Restaurant Show, the Neighborhood Marketing Institute, and the venerable hotel, The Breakers, where he ran corporate marketing for the $50m luxury food and beverage operation.
This experience taught him that marketing and operations are inextricably connected, and that applying a holistic, integrated approach to the industry delivers the strongest results. This fundamental insight formed the basis of Aaron’s consulting work. Since 2001, he has partnered with over 10,000 restaurants across six continents, including esteemed brands such as Starwood Resorts and Hotels Worldwide, The Cheesecake Factory, Red Robin, TGIFriday’s, FEMSA (Dos Equis), BJ’s Restaurants, Hofbrau, Land O’ Lakes, Marriott, SSP, and dozens of other global restaurant chains, regional powerhouse brands, high-volume independents, food and beverage manufacturers, distributors, resorts, entertainment districts, hotel chains, private equity firms, family offices, institutional investors and more. In total, he and his team have represented more than half of the largest 400 chains, and Aaron has personally led boots-on-the-ground assignments in 70 countries for clients ranging from startups to multinational companies posting more than $37 billion in annual sales.
Aaron has also become a go-to restaurant industry expert for media outlets including the Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg, CNBC, BBC, the Guardian, Forbes, Fortune, Time, Entrepreneur, Smart Money, Mashable, BuzzFeed, Oprah.com, the Washington Post, National Public Radio, and hundreds of other influential news sources. In 2018, he was honored as a Top Voice on LinkedIn, joining an esteemed group of thinkers, strategists, and influencers. His publicity skills have helped land clients features on the Food Network, Top Chef, the Travel Channel, Bravo, and Fine Living Network as well as a number of pilot program invitations.
A sought-after restaurant industry speaker, Aaron has presented around the world on evolving trends and innovative approaches to leapfrogging the competition. He has keynoted at numerous industry associations, conventions, corporate and franchise conferences, and universities.
Whether serving as a C-suite confidante, an expert source, or an inspiring keynote speaker, Aaron brings his lifetime of experience and passion, delivering insights unavailable from any other source. In all his endeavors, he encourages current and future leaders to adopt a long-term perspective in order to build sustainable foodservice operations and to place as much value on hospitality as they do on business.