W H O ?
J O R G E G U Z M A N
Jorge Guzman was born in the Dominican Republic and grew up in and around his father's hotel, restaurant and discotheque businesses. He started small, working the ice cream cart at the age of ten. Pursuing his artistic talents, he attended the Altos de Chavon School of Design. He then spent some time in producing and promoting music concerts. Jorge soon found that he had inherited his father’s true passion for the hospitality industry, which led Jorge to make a move to New York City to gain experience with the finest restaurateurs in the world.
Jorge took on positions in some of the city’s most prestigious restaurants, including Le Cirque, Annisa and One If By Land, working with industry leaders Danny Meyer, David Friedman and Simon Oren. As he worked, his responsibility grew into leadership roles. During this time Jorge obtained certification from the International Wine Center, and completed the New School’s Restaurant Management course; he realized he wanted to own his own restaurant.
In December 2009, at the age of 26, Jorge Guzman seized an opportunity to partner with respected chef Luis Mota to found Ofrenda Cocina Mexicana, in New York’s West Village. True to the meaning of the word Ofrenda, Jorge led the team, now including Executive Chef Mario Hernandez, to offer his adopted city of New York authentic, home-cooked, traditional Mexican food, paired with fine wines and his own expertly crafted cocktails.
He, Cliff and Chef Mario operate The Black Ant, which opened in the East Village in May 2014. Here, the menu is Contemporary Mexican, with a component of ants, chapulines and other insect ingredients, bringing the international culinary commonplace to New York’s diners. Some of Guzman’s cocktails incorporate insects in ant salt rims, for example—not as a novelty, but as a truly serious culinary element.
2016 saw J.G. Hospitality expanding boldly, with Temerario in the Chelsea neighborhood, with Chef Mario serving Mexican-style street food, and specialty cocktails. Next door to Temerario, in January 2017, he opened Lamano, a Spanish wine bar serving a small tapas menu. In May 2018, Lamano West Village opened on a quaint tree-lined street serving the same great food as its flagship.
In addition, Guzman will launch Boutique hotels, a Night Club and Restaurants with locations in Dominican Republic and Mexico, in 2019. With these projects and more to come in NY and LA, Jorge Guzman Hospitality Group will become one of New York’s leading entrepreneurial representatives for the cause of Latin cuisine and mixology. Jorge Guzman Hospitality brands have been featured on Jimmy Kimmel Live, The New York Times,The Boston Globe, CNN, The Yorker, Wall Street Journal, ABC News, Fox News, Popular Science, Travel Channel, Travel + Leisure, Food and Wine, Michelin Guide and GQ Magazine.
P E D R O G U E R R E R O
Pedro Guerrero is a serial entrepreneur and real estate developer. He is also a part-time nomad who travels the world immersing himself in the culture and history of the places he visits.
Forever the peg that will never fit into the round hole, he has developed successful ventures throughout his professional life by embracing an outside-of-the-box mentality that is not afraid of taking risks, pursuing unorthodox solutions to existing problems and identifying blind spots that others have missed in search for the next big opportunity.
Pedro began his career at the age of 22 as an operations manager at an advertisement firm in his native Buenos Aires. Itching to have more flexibility and maximize his career growth, he found an opportunity in mobile communications running the sales department. In the first year since joining the firm, he managed to increase sales by 1000% and doubled the sales team. This gave him the confidence to start his own company.
In 1999, he founded Exys SRL, an official distributor for Movicom. By 2001, it had grown to 123 employees and obtained the exclusive commercialization of SKY television for Buenos Aires. During this time, the Argentinian economy was going through a historical recessionary period that brought the market to its knees. Banks froze assets, capital fled the country, and 80% of businesses` regardless of size and tenure, went under. Argentina was effectively a mess that would take years, if not decades, to clean up.
Forced to leave the country, Pedro moved to New York City in 2002 having no connections and zero command of the English language. With raw determination, he learned the language and pursued opportunities that would enable him to have the same freedom he had enjoyed being his own boss in Argentina, in spite of the limitations of being a first-time immigrant. He eventually landed as a real estate manager in Queens and the Bronx, and immediately saw the potential of investing in underserved frontiers away from more formidable competitors who were focused on the ritzy skyline of Manhattan. He became an expert in these markets and using his people skills, he gained mentors and supporters who shortened the learning curve and provided key opportunities for investing. Nonetheless, the experience helped him uncover another blind spot that no one was addressing, and also carried less risk: sustainable lower income housing. Today he owns five buildings that are operated by the City of New York.
T H E P E O P L E B E H I N D
Alejandro Cuchara & Israel Cantú, founding partners of The People Behind, have been responsible of the development, operation and management of different locations in Mexico and the United States.
They have been working together since 2011, when they took care of the development, positioning, marketing and operation of what is today one of the most emblematic nightclubs in the center of Mexico, Grill Nightclub, in the city of Guanajuato.
Afterwards, each one in his specialty area, Cuchara in communication and concept, Cantú in marketing and operation; along with a group of shareholders of the city, they created one of the most representative bars of that city: La Madera. That is when they decide to join forces and create The People Behind in 2013, when they formalized their work relationship to venture on projects in NY City with their actual business partner, Jorge Guzmán. The have participated actively in the development of six places in NY, among which stands out The Black Ant (2014) and Temerario (2016). In 2015, The People Behind closed a commercial agreement with the most important bar developer group in Mexico, Grupo Impulza. Alongside with them, in 2017 they created a new brand called Panic Botanic, which is a phenomenon because in less than a year they have opened 7 different business units in the most important cities of Mexico.
They have generated their experience in business administration and operation with their strong roots in marketing and communication. Workaholics and restless by nature, they use the culture and art as an inspiration for creativity, considering that innovation and client experience are an essential part in the project development, where each one capture their professional bases but above else, doing everything with passion and dedication. They analyze each important detail on the client experience and when they find it, they seek to take it to the next level.
In the coming weeks they will be premiering a couple of new places, one of them a new development of a nightclub that promises to revolutionize the nightlife of the most exclusive market in center of Mexico.
S A N T I A G O Y Ñ I G O
Mr. Yñigo is the President of Almada Enterprises, a multi-national holding company offering strategic consulting, asset management and business development services for private clients and family offices operating in real estate, tourism, hospitality and entertainment industries headquartered in Miami, Florida. Santiago specializes in hotel developments by providing capital introductions, pre-acquisition due diligence, post-acquisition development services, sustainability consultation, pre-opening systems, recruitment, training, hospitality management, brand conceptualization, operator negotiations and other strategic resources for international real estate developments.
He began his professional career with Trust Hospitality, an award-winning hospitality management company located in Miami, FL. During his tenure with Trust Hospitality, he worked as Regional Accounting & Human Resources Coordinator for Southeast USA, leading post-acquisition and pre-opening management efforts for El Ad National, Carlyle Group and Witkoff Group to develop the Edgewater Hotel, Lord Balfour Hotel, Cavalier Hotel, Pelican Cove Resort & Marina and Washington Park Hotel. He was then hired by Faena Group as Controller to manage the re-development of Casa Faena in the $1.2B Faena District of Miami Beach. Mr. Yñigo completed his MBA in International Hotel Management & Development from the world-renowned Ecole Hoteliere de Lausanne before launching Almada Enterprises. He launched Lushna in The Americas, which has been involved in the sustainable development of four eco-retreat properties in the Hudson Valley, New York. Following that he was hired as Director of Strategy, Innovation & Development by Soneva Group to oversee strategy, innovation programs, quality management, community engagement, ethical retail and real estate developments in the Maldives, Thailand and Japan.
Mr. Yñigo is a Partner and overseeing hospitality strategy, conceptualization and business development for Origen. He is also a Partner and Chief Development Officer for other hospitality brands such as EEVA, Shamana and Strategic Advisor for Soneva Group.