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A rendering of the new Citizen's Food Hall in Manhattan West.

C3 adds 20 new executives to leadership team as it plans to open 300 new ghost kitchens this year

The company has also hired 1,200 unit-level employees as it launches two food halls

While the restaurant industry faces a staffing challenge at-large, Los Angeles-based food and beverage platform C3 (Creating Culinary Communities) is building its staff quickly, hiring 20 new executives and 1,200 employees, as announced by the company this month.

“My team is the backbone of C3‘s success,” said C3 co-founder and CEO Sam Nazarian. “Top players from all industries coming on board is a testament to what we are creating – an unstoppable, highly-creative and immensely successful food empire that is revolutionizing the culinary world.”

Top-level appointments were made to the company’s C-suite. Saul Cooperstein, one of Nazarian’s first employees at C3 parent SBE Lifestyle Hospitality, was named chief development officer. Cooperstein helped grow SBE from four food and beverage venues to 20 food and beverage venues and three hotels. He also served as the chief strategy officer and board member at Umami Burger before it was acquired by SBE.

Michael Israel was appointed chief of culinary development. Israel began his career as a culinary liaison at Thomas Keller Restaurant Group before co-founding MOE Deli, an award-winning food truck and pop-up restaurant in the Los Angeles area. He later taught at Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts before becoming executive chef and partner at Huckleberry Café. Most recently, Michael was a senior manager of culinary development and corporate chef at Cheesecake Factory.


Jillian O'Connor, Nima Fazeli, Jerry Garbus, Emil Corsillo, Lauren Weil.

Other appointments across C3 include:

  • Jillian O’Connor as director of design and project management;
  • Jason Wanamaker as communications director;
  • Lauren Weil as social media strategist;
  • Jon LeVert as digital content creator;
  • Jason Jeffords as corporate beverage director;
  • Lucy Tashdjian as HR business partner, West Coast;
  • Jazmin Marrero as HR business partner, East Coast;
  • Bridgid Billingsley Jones as controller;
  • JC Ayon-Torres as HR generalist; and
  • Alara Ayazi as recruiting coordinator.

Specific brand hires include:

  • Jerry Garbus as senior director of operations for SBE;
  • Brian Miller as head of bars and mixology programming for C3;
  • Yael Vengroff as head of bars and mixology programming for Katsuya and sBar;
  • Lynn Bound as culinary director for Citizens Manhattan West, C3’s first food hall;
  • Noah Brown as multi-unit operations manager for Umami Burger;
  • Ryne Hughes as general manager for QSR at Manhattan West; and
  • Mayency Prieto​ as general manager for Katsuya at Manhattan West.

Current C3 brands include Umami Burger, Krispy Rice, Sam's Crispy Chicken, EllaMia, In a Bun, The Other Side and Dani Garcia’s Minük, along with the new food hall in Manhattan set to open this summer, Graduate Food Hall and the newly-launched CitizensGo app.

C3 currently operates over 250 ghost kitchens nationwide and plans to open 300 more in 2021.

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