Longtime restaurateur Doug Roth announced his restaurant consulting company, Playground Hospitality. With 35-plus years of restaurant concept development and operational expertise, Roth and his team are aiding food service startups and established restaurants alike in refining a notable brand concept to stand out in the crowded industry. In addition to consulting, the team is hard at work developing its own concepts to be announced later this year.
Doug is the son of Don Roth, owner and operator of The Blackhawk, a legendary Chicago mainstay known for its Big Band performers that operated in The Loop from 1920—1984. He has restaurant expertise embedded in his DNA. It came as no surprise that after a six-year role in sports marketing at United Airlines, he returned to work alongside his father in the restaurant industry in the mid 1980s, where he held a management role for more than five years. He later became managing equity partner and vice president of development with Levy Restaurants, creating multiple nationally recognized restaurant concepts, including the renowned Bistro 110, Bistro 100 and Blackhawk Lodge.
“Being able to watch my dad steer The Blackhawk to an unheard of 64-year run in Chicago has been paramount in my career and seeing up close how thinking outside the box can create such a legacy is something I truly value,” says Roth. “At Playground Hospitality, we try to carry that vision into everything we do and ask ourselves, how are the new generations eating? What will still be relevant in 64 years?”
Before formally launching Playground Hospitality, Roth consulted with a long list noteworthy clientele (under company name Bistro Ventures), including Mastros, King Seafood, LYFE Kitchen, Hyatt Hotels, Tavistock Group and Goose Island Brewery. Projects ranged from creative concept and brand development, operational systems and menu creation to financial modeling and real estate strategy.
As president of Playground Hospitality, Roth merges his valuable skill set with his passion for healthful dining and the hospitality industry to redefine restaurant concepts and shape new customer experiences.
“Our team’s been in the kitchen, behind the bar and hostess stand, in the back office and even delivery trucks, to know what resonates with guests,” Roth says. “Our experience and ability to relate to our clients and the hospitality industry as a whole is what differentiates us. We’ll be right there with our clients, even saying no at times, to make sure that our clients continually produce a level of high quality throughout all aspects of their business.”
In addition to Roth’s thought leadership, Playground Hospitality is armed with a stable of esteemed players in a range of industries who lend their knowledge and hands-on expertise to projects accordingly. Some of them include:
Gale Gand, Consulting Partner. Gale Gand is a pastry chef and partner of the popular SpritzBurger in Chicago, a collaboration with The Hearty Boys, and pastry chef and partner of the Michelin two star Tru, with Lettuce Entertain You Enterprises. Gale was previously the host of Food Network “Sweet Dreams” and has authored eight books. She produces Gale’s Root Beer, received two James Beard Awards and has been inducted into the Chicago Chefs Hall of Fame.
Dan Smith, Consulting Partner. Dan Smith, one half of The Hearty Boys, has been a trend-setting caterer in Chicago for the last 15 years, feeding the likes of President Obama and Oprah Winfrey as well as producing events for 10 to 10,000. He and partner Steve McDonagh were the original “Next Food Network Star” winners and subsequently had their own television series, “Party Line with The Hearty Boys.” Chicago restaurants include HB, Hearty and most recently SpritzBurger with Gale Gand. Cookbooks include “Talk with Your Mouth Full” and “The New Old Bar.”
Richard Kinkaid, Business Advisor. Richard Kincaid was the president and chief executive officer of Equity Office Properties Trust until its acquisition by the Blackstone Group in February of 2007. He is currently the president and founder of Sage Vertical Gardens. Richard is also an investor, advisor and director for 10 early stage companies in healthcare, social media, biotechnology, media and parking.
The Gettys Group, Design Consultants. The Gettys Group is an award-winning global hospitality design firm specializing in interior design, consulting, branding and procurement. Its mission is to continuously evolve in these areas in an effort to create lasting value for clients. The Gettys Group works tirelessly to advance these disciplines as it look for new and interesting ways to enrich the lives of people who will experience the environments it creates.
In 2017, Roth and the Playground Hospitality team will launch a range of exciting new hospitality concepts, including:
Hyatt Regency McCormick Place
In partnership with The Gettys Group, Playground Hospitality developed a new overarching brand concept for three venues within the Hyatt Regency McCormick Place that will debut in late spring of 2017. The brand concept draws inspiration from the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition showcasing spectacle, diversity, innovation and the coming together of nations, ethnicities and religions. The new venues will include:
Third Star: A relaxed atmosphere that embraces the diversity and collaboration of the World’s Fair, as represented by the “third star” on the Chicago flag. Third Star will feature an international menu that pays homage to Chicago’s neighborhoods and respective cultures and cuisines, showcasing imagination and artistry through food.
Sixes and Eights: “Good Food. Good Fortune.” Named for the lucky numbers of Japanese and Chinese culture respectively, Sixes and Eights will pay tribute to the Asian cuisine introduced to Americans during the World’s Fair in a fast-casual, street food concept.
ARC Bar: A place for great minds to connect, ARC Bar honors the electricity arc and the intellectual prowess of Thomas Edison and Nikola Tesla, whose exhibitions during the fair exposed thousands to the concept of electricity. ARC bar will feature an intimate yet electric setting, offering a modernized bar menu and a worldly line up of libations.
Playground Hospitality partnered with local burger joint, EPIC Burger, to consult on menu and product development that guests can expect to come to delicious fruition in early spring 2017