Hai Hospitality, the award-winning restaurant group responsible for celebrated concepts Uchi, Uchiko, Uchibā and Loro, today announced the hiring of Gregory Shepard for the company’s newly-created role of Chief People Officer (CPO). Shepard’s background in talent management and training encompasses a broad range of hospitality cultures, from casual and fast-casual dining brands (Raising Cane’s, Chili’s, On the Border) to immersive entertainment environments (iFLY, Dave & Buster’s).
“Gregory has such a fantastic grasp of what makes a brand’s internal culture great,” says Hai Hospitality CEO Tony Montero. “We’re excited to bring him on board to champion our team from within and help us shape Hai Hospitality’s future.”
Shepard spent the past two decades in hospitality leadership positions in the Dallas-Fort Worth area and Austin. He holds a bachelor’s degree from Boston College and began his career as Manager of Training & Development for Metromedia Restaurant Group in Plano, TX, which franchised and operated more than 800 restaurants under the names Steak & Ale, Bennigan’s, Bonanza, Ponderosa, The Plano Tavern, The Southlake Tavern, and 29 Degree Tavern. From there, he spent four years as Director of Training for On the Border and Chili’s at Brinker International, headquartered in Dallas, and then spent 2007 through 2009 as Senior Director of Training & Organizational Knowledge at Dave & Buster’s. The next eight years were spent with Raising Cane’s Chicken Fingers, also based in Dallas, where Shepard worked his way up from Senior Director of Training to Senior Vice President of Talent Management. Shepard comes to Hai Hospitality fresh off a three-year stretch at iFLY, serving as Senior Vice President of People.
The newly-created CPO position at Hai Hospitality is charged with strengthening and optimizing the brand’s culture, organizational structure, and people strategy. Working closely with the rest of the Hai leadership team, Shepard will identify and continue to shape the brand’s culture, set the pace and tone for the organization, and create growth goals and objectives. Through championing the development of a comprehensive human resource strategy, he plans to solidify Hai Hospitality’s position as a leader and innovator in the culinary space.
“Joining the team as Chief People Officer at Hai Hospitality is a dream come true,” says Shepard. “I’m excited to build on its legacy of excellence—something that’s held fast through the complex challenges of this past year—and help develop the talent and culture even further.”