About Us

Our Experience

With over 50 years combined expertise  the restaurant industry, and a client base that is second to none, we have become the world's foremost restaurant and bar consultants. Now, we share our passion by helping others. Our ramp up process is designed to empower your team and outfit them with the tools they need to succeed. Talk to us today about how we can support your growth, limit your turnover, and put you on a solid track to success and profit.

Our Approach

Our service includes a comprehensive consult to help identify gaps and opportunities, a comprehensive report that includes a project plan with timelines and milestones, a cost analysis, and a schedule. We also offer a suite of quality products that will help you get there quickly and smoothly. That’s how we ensure your success is optimized.

Why Us?

Business mentors are key—that’s why when it comes to client selection, we’re choosy. We want to give each of you the time and guidance you deserve and, hopefully, make you feel like you are our only client.  Whether you’re seeking to start a concept from scratch or "fix" an ailing brand, call us today. Together we’ll create and refine your plan for success. We didn’t get there alone. And neither will you. 

Team

Doug Zeif, Principal

As the Principal of The Concept Gurus, Doug is a strategic advisor and consultant to many independent owners, national chains, private equity and venture capital firms on all things “restaurant". Most notably, he previously served as Senior Vice President of Food and Beverage/Asset Management Services for a subsidiary of The Blackstone Group, which Doug joined to help develop and operate the LXR Luxury Resorts & Hotels brand of hotels and resorts in late 2004. With Blackstone’s acquisition of Hilton Worldwide in 2007, Doug helped with the cultural transformation and corporate relocation of the company. 

Doug is also Founder & Principal of Next Hospitality Advisors, that focuses mainly on the lodging industry. 

Prior to joining LXR, Doug was a gastronomy and concept consultant to several multi-national companies. As well, Doug, as  Senior Vice President for The Cheesecake Factory for almost a dozen years in the early stages, was responsible for making Cheesecake Factory into a national phenomenon, having joined just after the second restaurant opened, with a 16-item menu in place. He was personally responsible for overseeing the development of the restaurant product line as well as the national expansion of the company, helping with the company’s hugely successful IPO in 1992.

Doug is from New York City and attended the University of Buffalo. A grill cook at the age of fourteen, he held several restaurant jobs throughout high school and college. A move to California in 1977 led Doug to choose a career in restaurant management. He traveled extensively throughout Europe and the United States, honing his skills in the hospitality business, developing a great love of food and wine along the way and building a solid foundation in operations management. 

Because of his outstanding reputation and expertise, since leaving Cheesecake Factory Doug has been highly sought-after to lead several multi-unit national companies, was on the cover of the “Rising Star” issue of Restaurant Hospitality magazine, and has won several ‘Awards for Excellence’ from Wine Spectator magazine.

Morgen Jacobson, Associate

Morgen began his career as a chef and owner before founding his consultancy, Bread and Butter Advisors; he focuses on the creation and operation of relevant restaurants and bars with the correct mix of art and commerce for their audience.  A typical project will have him create cocktail menus, wine lists and food menus. As a chef and operator with experience that ranges from luxury dining (chef at the legendary Quilted Giraffe and his own restaurant, Quince, both in New York City) to high volume concepts, his experience includes the rehabilitation of restaurant brands as well as new concept development and implementation. His international projects include the creative development and restaurant launches of two brands in the U. K., and menu development for two restaurant concepts in Spain; one fast casual with more than 100 locations, the other formal dining with 12 locations.  

Morgen is engaged as the Creative Director for Restaurants, Bars and Lounges across the portfolio of Hotel brands owned by Blackstone LLP. Active projects include seasonal menu changes for all the restaurants of the Boca Raton Resort and Club, Boca Raton Florida, and multiple restaurant and bar renovations with Interstate Hotels and Resorts, the international Hotel management company.

He has extensive knowledge of wine and spirits through study with the Court of Master Sommeliers and the Wine and Spirits Education Trust. Morgen indulges his love of coffee liberally through forensic espresso bar research in each city he visits.

Darlene Marcello, Associate

With over 20 years of operational and management experience, Darlene Marcello is a true Food and Beverage professional. Recently, as the VP of Food & Beverage and Procurement with HRI Lodging, she oversaw the operations of all F&B operations in over 30 hotels as well as procurement including 36 additional multi-family properties.  Darlene has proven experience turning once bankrupt F&B operations into profit centers.  Her brand development is savvy and eclectic creating new concepts such as Grayson Social and Killer Biscuits in Dallas, TX.  In San Francisco, she led Puccini & Pinetti transition and created Verge in Los Gatos.  Other top concepts: The Roost, Flannel, Market 104, Powdered Sugar and Batch Bar, a Top 10 Hotel Bar in New Orleans.

Darlene has also owned and operated a multi-unit restaurant group and was the VP of Operations with Semolina, Inc.  Darlene mastered managing daily operations in a large multi-state portfolio including managing P&L, contract negotiation, revenue forecasting, and creating SOP’s for all departments.

Darlene has her CSW certification and her CEC certification. She was a member of the Hilton Worldwide Food and Beverage Advisory board and is currently an active board member of the Hotel F&B Executive Advisory board and the New Orleans Healing Center board.

What You Need

Profit Optimization

Profit Optimization is one of our specialties! We WILL improve your operation- GUARANTEED– making you more PROFIT and giving your operation LONGEVITY...

Cutting Edge Product Development

We are the masters of ingredient use and menu engineering and always on trend but yielding to time-tested enduring menu items.

Time Is Running Out!

We’re burning daylight here!...What are you waiting for?