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BR Guest Hospitality CEO James Gersten departs

BR Guest Hospitality CEO James Gersten departs

Gersten joined the company in 2013

James Gersten has left his position as CEO of BR Guest Hospitality, a New York City-based subsidiary of Starwood Capital Group, a public relations representative for BR Guest confirmed.

Gersten, a veteran of the New York City restaurant scene, joined BR Guest in 2013, after the ouster of founder Stephen Hanson, who sold a stake in his company to Starwood Capital Group in 2007 for a reported $150 million. Before that, he worked for Starwood Capital as president of Culinary Concepts Hospitality Group, a partnership between Starwood Hotels and New York-based chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten.

Starwood Capital is the private-equity firm that launched Starwood Hotels in 1995.

BR Guest runs 26 restaurants in New York City, Las Vegas, Pittsburgh, Atlantic City, N.J., and Fort Lauderdale, Fla., including three Bill’s Bar & Burger restaurants, seven Dos Caminos locations and four Strip House steakhouses.

The newest Dos Caminos location opened in Times Square in New York earlier this month, and was the first BR Guest opening during Gersten’s tenure. It has a tequila and mezcal bar on the street level with a dining room below.

Gersten is also founder of La Esquina, a Mexican hotspot with a trendy subterranean dining room in lower Manhattan, as well as a location in the Williamsburg neighborhood of Brooklyn, N.Y.

Gersten told Nation’s Restaurant News when the newest Dos Caminos opened that he hoped the new location, designed by Brooklyn, N.Y.-based firm hOmE, would take the already successful chain in a new direction that included lighter and more seasonal menu offerings and a more “transporting” experience.

Gersten got his start in the 1990s at Drew Nieporent’s Myriad Restaurant Group, before joining the Smith & Wollensky Restaurant Group as vice president of national operations. He opened La Esquina in 2004, while also working for Andre Balazs Hotels as senior vice president of restaurants and bars. He then became president of Culinary Concepts Hospitality Group.

Starwood did not respond to queries about Gersten’s replacement or the reason for his departure by press time.

The New York Post reported, citing unnamed sources, that although sales for the privately held group were flat, at around $150 million, “profits were way down.”

Contact Bret Thorn at [email protected]
Follow him on Twitter: @foodwriterdiary

TAGS: People News
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