Grill Concepts, Inc. announced the appointment of three new executive team members: Senior Vice President of Operations Mike Charvat, Senior Purchasing Director Brian Klein, and Senior Director of Information Technology Phil Olea. The new hires, based at the company’s Woodland Hills headquarters, report to GCI Chief Executive Officer John Sola, and are responsible for their respective divisions’ roles in the continued growth of the restaurant group.
“With the storied success of The Grill On The Alley and Daily Grill, the continued expansion of the Public School On Tap brand and the upcoming opening of Wewatta Point in Denver this fall, Grill Concepts will enter 2018 in a stronger position than ever before,” says Sola, a 34-year veteran of the company who was appointed CEO in 2016. “Mike, Brian and Phil each possess a wealth of talent and industry knowledge that will be crucial in developing smart, forward-thinking strategies that will drive our ongoing growth and success.”
As Senior VP of Operations, Charvat leads the teams that provide the food, beverage and service experience at all GCI concepts. Most recently serving as the Vice President of West Coast Operations for Levy Restaurants, he oversaw the foodservice operations at some of the nation’s most iconic stadiums and arenas, including Dodger Stadium, Staples Center, Oracle Arena, and MODA Center. Previously, he was the Vice President of Operations for the Michelin-rated Patina Restaurant and held other executive leadership roles at ARAMARK, Real Mex Restaurants, and the Walt Disney Company.
In his role as Senior Purchasing Director, Klein spearheads supply chain and procurement strategy across all GCI concepts. With more than 20 years of experience, his skills in vendor relations, sourcing and contract negotiation have resulted in millions of dollars in cost savings for previous employers. Most recently, he served as Purchasing Manager for Tavistock’s fast-casual restaurant chain Freebirds World Burrito, and previously for Golden Living/Ceres Purchasing Solutions, Hospital Housekeeping Systems and restaurant chain operator Ran Ken Inc.
Newly appointed Senior Director of IT Olea oversees the company’s technology needs, including point-of-sale software and security risk management. Prior to joining GCI, he owned and operated his own software company, The POS Experts, which has worked with more than 185 organizations worldwide over the past 30 years. Olea also previously led technology strategy on behalf of other high-profile retail, restaurant, fast food and cruise ship brands, such as Starbucks, Taco Bell, Jack-In-The-Box, Denny’s and Panera, as well as Wanda Group Chinese, which owns and operates retail locations worldwide, including AMC Theatres.
Additionally, Michael Kaplan has been named Area Director of Operations and Corporate Beverage Director. Prior to joining Grill Concepts in 2015, he served as Regional Director of Operations for Fig & Olive, as well as Director of Food & Beverage Administration for the Mirage Resort & Casino in Las Vegas. His new title reflects expanded operational responsibilities, overseeing Grill Concepts’ beverage program as well as restaurant teams among the Grill on the Alley and Point Seafood brands.
Since the flagship Grill On The Alley opened more than 30 years ago just steps from the famed Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills, California, it has become known to locals as “where Hollywood eats,” and is recognized as one of the country’s best steakhouses, along with sister brand Daily Grill. Today, GCI operates more than 30 locations nationwide across its five concepts, and the announcement of GCI’s new executive leadership follows the recent growth of the company’s Public School On Tap brand, which opened two new locations in 2017, PS 972 and PS 404. After the successful opening of Laurel Point in Studio City, Calif., in 2016, Wewatta Point, the second location of the modern seafood concept, which serves fresh, seasonal and sustainable cuisine, is slated to open this fall in Denver, Colo.
Looking ahead, GCI will launch its first mobile app in 2018, offering another way for the company to engage with its loyal clientele and allowing members of its “Insider” Loyalty program to track their dining rewards, make reservations and have access to VIP offers and events for each concept.