“Doug” Zeif, is the founder & principal in The Concept Gurus and Next! Hospitality Advisors, consulting and advisory services firms he founded in April, 2013. Prior to that, Doug was Senior Vice President of Food and Beverage/Asset Management Services for WHM, LLC, a portfolio company subsidiary of The Blackstone Group, which Doug joined in late 2004 to help co-found, develop, and operate the LXR Luxury Resorts & Hotels brand of hotels and resorts. During 2008 and 2009, Doug helped with the transformation and corporate relocation of Hilton Worldwide and set the stage for incomparable operating results.
As Asset Manager, Doug also had oversight of the company’s European portfolio, including Axios Hotels, Hospitality Europe, and Center Parcs among others. Basically, Doug is connected to every full service hotel and entertainment venue that falls under the Blackstone Real Estate Partnership’s ownership, numbering over 100 hotel properties globally. Blackstone remains Next!’s largest client.
Prior to joining WHM, Doug spent eight years as a gastronomy and concept consultant to many multi-national companies- most notably for Darden Restaurants, Karstadt Quelle, AG and Gastro-Consulting in Germany; Grupo Zena in Spain- and, for almost a dozen years in the very early stages, Doug was second-in-command at the nationally famous Cheesecake Factory. Zeif was, in part, responsible for creating Cheesecake Factory’s universal appeal having joined just after the second restaurant opened, with a 20-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 concept and also helped take the company public in 1992.
Doug has been part of the conception, development and operation of five national Hot Concepts® award-winners during a nine-year period when he was mainly in the restaurant field.
At LXR, Doug has been successful at uniting five different corporate cultures under one mission, repositioning the food and beverage product offerings at all of the hotel properties acquired into the portfolio and, under his direction, the company has substantially increased its food and beverage revenues, gross profits derived from food and beverage operations, guest service scores, and enhanced product offerings to rival the best hotel companies in the world.
Doug Zeif is a strategic visionary. He is a developer of people, systems, and concepts. At Cheesecake Factory, Doug cites amongst his most significant accomplishment as the fact that his position went unfilled more than ten years after his departure. He hired, trained, developed, and led his team to incomparable success. His team more than quadrupled the size of the company after his departure.
He brings with him an unbridled passion for hospitality, exacting standards, and an extensive management, operations, and culinary leadership background. He is considered one of the industry’s brightest minds.
Doug is native to New York City, who attended the University of Buffalo. A grill cook at the age of fourteen, Zeif held several restaurant jobs throughout high school and college. “The business really got into my blood while I was cooking and serving my way through college. The camaraderie was incredible!” A move to California in 1977 led Doug to choose a career in restaurant management.
Before his career led him to Cheesecake Factory, Doug traveled extensively throughout Europe and the United States honing his skills in the hospitality business. Zeif developed a great love of food and wine along the way and built a solid foundation in operations management. He considers himself a “student of the game “, one who studies food, eating trends, pop culture, and other’s successes and failures. Certainly there are lessons in both!
Because of his outstanding reputation and expertise, since leaving Cheesecake Factory Doug has been highly sought-after to lead several multi-unit national companies and has been on the cover of the “Rising Star” issue of Restaurant Hospitality magazine (May 1998) and has won several ‘Awards for Excellence’ from Wine Spectator magazine.