Restaurant Associates, known as a leader in on-site dining management and premium catering, is celebrating 75 years in the industry with new faces at the helm and an even deeper commitment to community, employee experience, and innovation that will continue to define the hospitality landscape for decades to come. The Diamond celebration underscores R/A’s position at the forefront of delivering elevated and coveted workplace and higher education dining experiences, as well as serving as the culinary prowess behind the food & beverage offerings at some of the world’s most important and lauded cultural establishments.
Ed Brown has assumed the role of Chief Executive Officer. Drawing upon his more than two-decades at R/A and more than 30 years as a chef, Brown’s focus will be on growth, with an emphasis on public restaurants. As the creator of several high-profile concepts within the R/A family, Brown will continue to bring his creativity and business acumen to the CEO role, further cementing the company’s position as restauranteurs in addition to serving the world’s leading workplace, education and cultural organizations.
Michael Gallagher, a European-trained chef with more than 25 years of experience in culinary and operations, will assume the role of Chief Operating Officer. A promotion from his previous position as President of Managed Services in which he oversaw R/A’s corporate and educational dining accounts, Gallagher will focus on operational excellence and innovation across all divisions bolstering the company’s values of hospitality and culinary excellence.
Dean Martinus is serving as President, Catering Services, leading an integral piece of the R/A business after returning to the fold. Martinus began his career at R/A after graduating from Paul Smith’s College and returns to apply his more than two decades of industry experience to overseeing the company’s robust catering services in Boston, New York, Washington D.C. and beyond.
Rounding out the team is Einav Gefen, a new face at R/A who assumes the role of Chef/Innovator. The role is being passed between two acclaimed chefs, as Gefen receives the baton from Brown. She will be the second person to hold the unique title following Brown’s 11 years in the role and her appointment further cements R/A’s reputation as a chef-driven, culinary-first company. Gefen has worked in acclaimed kitchens across the globe including at Mul-Yam in Tel Aviv, Israel and Danal in Manhattan’s East Village. Most recently Gefen served as the Corporate Executive Chef for Unilever, leading innovation and the roll out of new products among other duties. At R/A, Gefen will continue to drive forward a commitment to quality as well as augment sustainability, diversity and wellness initiatives.
“R/A was founded as, and continues to be, a restaurant operator. We’ve got three trained chefs at the helm who along with their business experience, lead from a chef’s point-of-view,” says Brown. “As we envision what the next 75 years looks like for us, the mantra of ‘Once a Chef, Always Chef’ couldn’t be more true. We’ll use the creativity, attention to detail and commitment to service that is ingrained in each of us to keep disrupting the industry and delivering new dining concepts that will define the landscape for years to come.”
As part of R/A’s Diamond celebration, the company will be strengthening its commitment to community endeavors, inclusive staffing and supporting women- and minority-owned businesses as key pillars of their business strategy.
- A home for talent of all kinds, R/A makes inclusive recruitment a priority. To date, R/A has been one of the top employers for graduates from Hot Bread Kitchen, Job Path’s Consortium for Customized Employment, Fedcap Rehabilitation Services Inc., C-CAP, Best Buddies and others.
- R/A continues to bring women- and minority-owned suppliers into the fold, consistently running pilot programs and full-scale launches with their one-of-a-kind products. Brands R/A works with include the likes of
- Matriark Foods: women-owned upcycler of fresh-from-the-farm produce that would have otherwise gone to waste
- Atlantic Sea Farms: women-run, sustainable kelp aquaculture business
- Lekka Burger: women-owned, chef-created vegan burgers
- By 2023, R/A has committed to making 25% of its suppliers women and/or minority-owned.
- The long-standing relationship with New York Common Pantry will continue to be a core initiative at R/A. The company supports food rescue efforts that benefit hungry New Yorkers. In the past three years, R/A has provided New York Common Pantry with more than 37,000 meals to help feed those in need.
- And internal cultural shifts designed to inspire wider industry transformation will continue to be a key part of the company’s next 75 years and beyond. While equity and inclusion have always been priorities, R/A’s new partnership with Reframe (a tech enabled consulting and advisory company that helps organizations build more inclusive employee experiences at scale) has resulted in an ambitious intention to make even further advancements by 2023. These details will be shared as initiatives are rolled out.
Several other celebrations recognizing past, present and future leaders, momentous accomplishments and future commitments are planned throughout 2022.