We coordinate the execution of your business strategies in real estate, supply chain, data science, finance, and labor providing you with an unprecedented value from one platform. By continuously benchmarking your growth, we identify problems and opportunities sooner to ensure you hit your short and long-term goals.

Our Team

We are a team of data scientists, data engineers, analysts, real estate experts, creatives, and business professionals committed to pioneering the future of restaurants and entertainment. We are solutions-focused helping our clients to identify critical goals, develop plans, and execute on the most efficient path to excellence.

Jack Neill

Associate

Noah Tracht

Vice President of Strategic Partnerships

David Bagley

Investment Director

Fernando Paz

Sr. Developer

Amy Krulas

Finance Manager

Megan Schmidt

Director

Mathew Focht

CEO

Luis Lara

Partner

Crystal Rivera

Associate

Veronica

Vice President of Business Development

Clarissa Save

Creative Director

Alan Katz

Partner

Robert Johnson

Vice President

Sydney Venesile

Associate

Hudson Piehl

COO

Jon Hegwood

Vice President

Martin Barboza

Vice President

Jim Rand

Senior Vice President

Tim Greenhagen

Strategic Advisor

Steve Taylor

Senior VP of Business Development / Partner

Steve Taylor

Senior VP of Business Development / Partner

Throughout his near 20 year Real Estate and Hospitality career Steve has represented best in class multi concept chef driven, corporate, franchised and emerging food and beverage concepts on a regional and national level. Steve has seamlessly implemented strategic development growth plans for his clients by drawing on his his extensive knowledge of the restaurant business, operations and industry trends.

Expertise include an in-depth understanding of an operators business, market and date analysis, site selection, negotiation and relationships with developers and restaurant service providers. He is dedicated to building a true business advantage for his clients by engaging, managing and overseeing the master brokerage model. Steve has also consulted for developers in curating their food and beverage merchandise mix.

Steve’s has been involved in a wide range of asset classes across the US that include mixed use projects, emerging urban neighborhoods, suburban lifestyle centers, land and CBD street retail. His range of representation of restaurant concepts include Multi Unit/Concept Chef Driven, National QSR’s/Fast Casuals, Casual/Polished National Dining and Breweries. Steve’s approach is meticulous, innovative, relentless in pursuing the best markets and locations whilst always reviewing their return on investment. He has a proven track record of long term strategic planning, client retention and closing of deals, Prior to joining EMERGING Steve worked at Colliers International, Goodman Real Estate Group and most recently as part of CBRE’s Restaurant Practice Group where he focused on restaurant tenant representation and consultation

Steve grew up in the UK and graduated with a Hospitality Degree from The University of Salford, Manchester.

David Bagley

Investment Director

David Bagley is Investment Director for EMERGING. He has over thirty years of experience in corporate finance, operations management, profit improvement consulting, and financial advisory services specializing in franchise and the restaurant and hospitality industries. He has been recognized nationally for his work and won recognition for Turnaround of the Year and separately, M&A Advisor for Sale of the Year. Dave has managed or advised a variety of multiunit companies throughout his career including Popeyes, Santa Fe Cattle Company, The Clubhouse, Restaurants America, Bar Louie, Granite City Food & Brewery, Sonic Drive-In, Lee’s Famous Recipe Chicken, Burger King, Restaurants Unlimited, and Giordano’s. He has served as CFO, COO and CEO, including both public and private boards.

Sydney Venesile

Associate

Sydney Venesile is an Associate at Emerging Concepts, with responsibility for national tenant representation and leasing, market research, and supporting all members of the leasing team. She earned her Bachelor's of Science in Hospitality Management from Kent State University in 2018. Sydney is a Hospitality professional with experience in Front of House operations and management, catering and event sales and planning, and wholesale food distribution.

Fernando Paz

Sr. Developer

Fernando is a Sr. Developer at Tipzyy, responsible for maintaining, improving Tipzyy's IT infrastructure and bringing new features into life. He was in charge of moving Tipzyy from an outdated monolith to microservices, pushing Tipzyy's infrastructure and scaling capabilities to a new level. Grew up in Venezuela where he studied to graduate as Systems Engineer in 2012. He's always been fond of innovative solutions for everyday problems. Has a strong passion for cars, motorcycles and horsepower.

Jack Neill

Associate

Jack Neill is an Associate at Emerging Concepts, with responsibility for national tenant representation and leasing, market research, and supporting all members of the leasing team. Jack is a recent graduate of Indiana University. He earned his BSB with a double major in Finance and Real Estate through the Kelley School of Business.

Tim Greenhagen

Strategic Advisor

Coming Soon

Jim Rand

Senior Vice President

Jim is the Senior Vice President of Acutely. He is started his career at McDonald’s in 1973 with the primary responsibility to develop statistical and mathematical models to predict new store sales volumes. Starting as a single person department, Jim’s career expanded to his final position as Senior Vice President, Global Development.

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Jon Hegwood

Vice President

Jon Hegwood joined the Emerging family of companies in 2019 as Vice President of Emerging Capital Partners out of the Chicago office. As a proven real estate professional and financier, Jon works with investors and equity partners in helping support owners and operators with strategic real estate and capital solutions.

Prior to joining Emerging, Jon worked with a leading national real estate advisory firm before founding his own real estate investment management company specialized in structuring and sourcing real estate partnerships and joint ventures.

With an innate entrepreneurial spirit, Jon understands the challenges business owners face and can assist in realizing untapped opportunities for growth.

Jon holds his real estate license in Illinois and is an active member of ICSC, CCIM, and YREP.

Clarissa Save

Creative Director

Clarissa is a seasoned copywriter with 10 years of experience writing engaging advertising copy for e-commerce businesses, SAAS, and the hospitality industry. Clarissa specializes in writing creative product copy and loves to make words dance.

Noah Tracht

Vice President of Strategic Partnerships

Noah’s passion for food & beverage goes back to his childhood, whether enjoying great home cooked meals or experiencing delicious food while traveling with my family, the love began early.

Noah has spent the entirety of his professional career tied to F&B in one capacity or another. First, on the operator side overseeing and developing several successful beverage programs across at some prominent Chicago restaurants. He then stepped over to the distributor side, selling wine and spirits; growing his business 3x. Most recently, Noah joins us from Pernod-Ricard, where he worked 3 years as a market manager bringing sales and marketing programs alive in both the on and off premise.

Noah grew up in La Paz, Bolivia and holds two degrees; one in Business Administration and the other in International Relations from Beloit College.

He is excited to bring his entrepreneurial spirit and drive to the Tipzyy and Emerging team.

Amy Krulas

Finance Manager

Amy has extensive real estate industry experience working closely with small businesses to build and maintain the most effective accounting systems and strategies. In 2017, she was awarded LinkedIn's Profinder Best of Accounting Consultants

Martin Barboza

Vice President

Martin Barboza has been providing marketing and repositioning strategies for real estate investment and development for 15 years. He has built a track record of maximizing investment returns during the hold period by ensuring an appropriate capitalization structure, while focusing on optimal property performance. His ranked in top 1% of REO sales across Chicago for five years running. He has led execution with acquisitions, asset management, investments, construction, development and consulting. Martin delivers economies of scale to his diverse capital group by identifying underutilized properties in prime urban locations with expert analysis, execution of purchase, construction, and sale of investment properties.

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Megan Schmidt

Director

Megan Schmidt is a Director at Emerging Concepts, and focuses on national tenant representation strategy and leasing. Since joining Emerging Concepts, Megan has played an integral role in national growth strategy for early entertainment and restaurant concepts from both the US and UK.

Megan earned a BBA from the University of Wisconsin-Madison with a double major in Real Estate & Urban Land Economics and Marketing. She holds her real estate license in Illinois and Wisconsin and is an active member of ICSC. Megan is an Associate Market Director for the Illinois Region of the Wisconsin Real Estate Alumni Association and is also a mentor in the Wisconsin Real Estate Student Mentorship Program.

Prior to joining EMERGING, Megan worked at EY, a big-four accounting firm, in their Transaction Real Estate group, performing commercial valuations in almost every asset class including, hotels, industrial, medical, and retail.

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Mathew Focht

CEO

Mathew has a passion for helping best in class restaurant and entertainment operators onto growing as recognized national leader in their category. Mathew has served hundreds of restaurant–entertainment owners and developers of lifestyle and mix-use centers. Mathew is founder of EMERGING, Emerging Concepts, Emerging Capital Partners, and co-founder of Consolidated Concepts, Acutely, and FB Insights. Mathew has helped exciting concepts expand nationally with focusing on real estate, capital, operations, and reducing operating cost.

Mathew has worked with following restaurants and entertainment concepts; Silverspot Cinema, Puttshack, Flight Club, Blue Sushi, Federales, Pour House, City Works, Doc B’s, The PUB, Levity Live, Improv Comedy Club, AZN, TAPS, Flip Side, 3 Palms, Blue Lemon, Adobe Gilas, Bar Louie, Concepts America, Devons Seafood, Houlihans, Cheesecake Factory, Brio, Bravo, McCormick & Schmick, Blue Martini, Hyde Park Steakhouse, BICE, Lucky Strike, Houstons, and many other restaurant and entertainment concepts.

Prior, Mathew was Principal of Sierra Advisors and Vice President of RKF Retail Property Advisors providing comprehensive leasing, marketing, and consulting services to owners and developers of malls, lifestyle centers, and mixed-use projects. Responsible for securing national expansion sites for over a dozen top restaurant and entertainment emerging chains and executing leasing for the restaurant tenant mix for hundreds of thousands of square feet around the U.S. Prior to RKF, Mathew was with Pyramid Companies and Steiner & Associates where he was responsible for restaurant leasing and development the firm’s superior-regional malls and mixed-use lifestyle projects.

Mathew earned a Masters of Business Administration in Finance and Real Estate and a Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering from the University of Cincinnati. He is a member of International Council of Shopping Centers, Urban Land Institute, and National Restaurant.

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Luis Lara

Partner

Luis Lara works with some of the top concepts and private equity firms in the restaurant industry. He is responsible for identifying opportunities for restaurant companies to reduce cost and improve their profitability. Luis has helped clients add millions of dollars to their bottom line without disrupting the restaurant’s operations or affecting quality or the integrity of the brand.

Prior to joining Emerging, Luis worked for a top Illinois financial institution, BMO Harris Bank, and for two of the leading technology companies in Chicago, Careerbuilder and Belly. Luis graduated from the business school at Elmhurst College with a double major in International Business and Finance.

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Alan Katz

Partner

Spending the majority of his career in hospitality, Alan brings extensive experience and knowledge in fundamental business facets including real estate, data analytics/site selection, supply chain, operations, marketing, and technology. Inherently entrepreneurial, Alan has been a cornerstone in building the EMERGING family of companies. Over the years, Alan has worked closely with hundreds of leading restaurant and entertainment groups throughout the country; consulting on creating strategic real-estate expansion plans, fundraising, and building supply chain infrastructures. Alan deploys a dynamic understanding of both growth and operations; having been instrumental in creating back-of-house efficiencies and reducing cost through negotiating distribution agreements, manufacturer contracts, and implementing technologies to help optimize day-to-day operations. Alan holds a degree from Depaul University in History/Pre-Law and Hospitality Management and Leadership. He holds his real estate license in Illinois and is an active member of ICSC.

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Veronica Zemon

Vice President of Business Development

Veronica has extensive experience building brands nationwide and creating comprehensive sales-driving solutions in the beverage industry. After completing her MBA, Veronica spent eight years working in the advertising agency world creating award-winning campaigns across channels. Her business background coupled with her creative experience fuel her passion for innovative strategy and technology.

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Robert Johnson

Vice President

As Vice President in the Chicago office, Robert focuses on national tenant representation, new development consulting and strategic capital partnerships.

Since joining EMERGING he has played an integral role in the fundraising, data science and national growth strategy for early to mid-stage restaurants and entertainment concepts in the US and UK.

Robert has been a crucial component in building the national tenant representation group by partnering with teams of data scientists as well as managing real estate brokerages in major markets across the US.

Robert earned his Bachelor’s degree in Economics from Indiana University and Master of Science in Real Estate Finance from Depaul University, Chicago. He holds his real estate license in Florida and Illinois and is an active member of ICSC and CCIM.

Prior to joining EMERGING Robert worked at R.J O’Brien as well as Milliman FRM.

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Crystal Rivera

Associate

Crystal Rivera is an Associate at Emerging Concepts, responsible for national tenant representation and leasing, market research, and supporting members of the leasing team. Prior to joining Emerging, Crystal worked as a Brokerage Coordinator at Cushman and Wakefield with their Capital Markets group, executing marketing campaigns/materials as well as underwriting office and industrial properties. Crystal also has experience in Asset Management, managing commercial properties at both Cushman and Wakefield and CBRE. Crystal Earned a BA in Public Relations and Advertising with a minor in graphic design and a Master of Science in Real Estate from DePaul University. She also holds her real estate license in Illinois.

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Hudson Piehl

COO

Hudson joined Tipzyy three years ago as it's first employee! As COO, he manages the product development and operations teams. He uses his extensive background in team building and project management to deliver high quality products and customer service to Tipzyy clients.

Hudson has held senior roles at leading interactive companies and gamification for over 20 years. He has managed multiple Mobile Gaming Groups and responsible for client management and overall direction of several apps in parallel. Has extensive history with product vision, client coordination and project management for games, educational apps and consumer branded mobile apps.

Case Study
7 Units / 5 States

EMERGING provides the fundamentals to support strategic decision making in the real estate expansion, marketing to our target audience and much more. They provide data to increase our confidence when making critical decisions.

Gonzalo Ulivi
CEO of Silverspot and Cines Unidos

Negotiated and secured leases with 5 sites in 5 states, and over $50M in landlord contribution
Developed a proprietary Deep Learning Model that generated US Market priorities
$320,000 savings on purchasing in the first 12 months—MDA, new contracts, rebates, audits
Provided marketing target zip codes that maximized advertising return on investment
Created a Market Potential Map, showing the number of units the market can support, optimal locations, and sales projections

Silverspot Cinema, provides an unrivaled movie-going experience, offering exquisite in-theatre dining while watching all your favorite Hollywood blockbuster movies. Guests are pampered with amenities such as pre-reserved ticketing, oversized heated reclining leather seats, each with an individual large dining table perfect for enjoying a delectable chef-crafted menu featuring freshly prepared dishes, signature cocktails, craft beers, and wines.

Case Study
5 UK / 2 US

EMERGING is more than a partner, they are extremely passionate about building the Flight Club brand in the US in the most mindful way that goes beyond just real estate, data science, and finance.

Alan Cichon
President US Operations - Social Entertainment Ventures

In 2019 and 2022, EMERGING invested in early two rounds of State of Play.
In 2019, EMERGING Capital Partners invested in an early round of Social Entertainment Ventures
Developed a proprietary Deep Learning Model that generated US market priorities
Created a Market Potential Map, showing the number of units the market can support, optimal locations, and sales projections
Built strategic growth plan and signed leases in multiple states, including Boston, Houston, Las Vegas, Denver, Atlanta.
Signed leases with 3 sites in 3 states: Boston, MA; Las Vegas NV; and Atlanta, GA
In negotiation with over a dozen sites for openings over the next 3 years

Flight club has shaken up the Bar and Hospitality industry by reinventing the classic pub game of darts in one of the most unique venues. The technology with social darts is built on, is exclusive to Flight Club. The Flight Club style puts a twist on the classic British Pub and the fun of the fairground.

Case Study
3 UK

They has assembled an incredible team of talented individuals who all provide great service, care and attention to Puttshack and meeting our goals.  The EMERGING team is a genuine partner adding real value in achieving our Puttshack strategy to successfully grow the concept across the US.

Joe Vrankin 
Chief Executive Officer, Puttshack

Built National Growth Plan for Puttshack, open in multiple states and plans to open 12 units a year.
Negotiation of over hundreds of Letter of Intents for sites throughout the US
Built National Growth Plan for Puttshack, opening Chicago, IL; Atlanta, GA; and Miami, FL in 2021/22
In 2019, EMERGING Capital Partners invested in an early round of Puttshack
EMERGING Concepts evaluated over 100 sites that met their Tier 1 criteria
In negotiation with over 15 sites with openings expected in the next three years

Puttshack is part of a ground-breaking social entertainment brand founded by Adam Breeden, founder of Acebounce and co-founder of Flight Club and Steve and Dave Jolliffe, founders of Top Golf. Puttshack combines the finest hospitality and food & beverage, with award winning design; to transform miniature golf from a traditional ‘family only’ activity into an unprecedented social entertainment concept. Part bar and restaurant, part tech-driven fun house, the Puttshack venue will allow guests to feel luxuriously indulged in a premium, beautifully lit interior.

Thirsty Lion

Case study
10 Units / 4 States

"EMERGING has been a strategic partner in many aspects of our business, a great extension of our existing team."

John Plew, CEO of Thirsty Lion

Identified and negotiated over a dozen real estate sites in 3 states.
300,000 savings on purchasing in 2019 and 2020
Negotiated a Master Distribution Agreement
Contract savings on over 50 items, including burgers and seafood
Rebate and price verification savings from weekly auditing

Thirsty Lion is a modern gastropub that features an eclectic variety of multicultural cuisines with an emphasis on scratch recipes, craft cocktails, and local draft beers.

Our Values

Resourcefulness
CLIENT FOCUSED
one firm, one family
follow through
curiosity

CLIENT FOCUSED

We love supporting founders and Passionate Executives leading their business. We succeed when our customers/clients succeed. We exceed our client goals, or we don’t work with the client. We ensure our clients are ahead of the competition and are able to be proactive instead of reactive. We always strive to earn trust so that, over time, customers become clients and clients become true partners.

Resourcefulness

We are frugal. We always seek to use our resources thoughtfully and in the best manner to advance the interests of EMERGING and out clients. We are entrepreneurial and will always work through, over, and around challenges. Nobody is above any job, role, or task. We rise to the occasion and do what needs to be done...always. We're not afraid to allocate the necessary resources to achieve our goals, but we do so as thoughtfully and efficiently as possible.

Selflessness

We seek what’s best for EMERGING, rather than best for yourself. We are ego-less when searching for the best ideas. We support one another, in support of our clients. We treat each other with respect. We are honest with ourselves and each other. We're not afraid to have the hard conversations that challenge us to be better and force us to grow.

Curiosity

We seek to understand our client story, growth strategy, and market. We are not afraid to ask questions. We question assumptions, ideas, the status quo, and the way things have always been done. We believe there is always a new solution and we must think big to pursue something bigger and better. We learn rapidly and eagerly.

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