CEO + LEAD DESIGN
Michael is a Cleveland native, Cum Laude Graduate with degrees in Accounting and Finance, and a former CPA with Price Waterhouse. Starting at a young age Michael learned entrepreneurial skills, design and construction from his father. Later in life Michael mastered those skills designing more than 25 trend setting successful Restaurants and Entertainment Concepts. As these concepts continued to progress Michael founded and formed Forward Hospitality Group. Today, the Group, including all venues employs over 500 team members.
In 1997, Michael’s hospitality career started with the Design and construction of The Living Room located in Atlanta’s Buckhead Entertainment District. The Living Room was an instant success allowing Michael’s Hospitality career to move forward quickly. Initially Michael was responsible for all aspects required to open and run a facility. This included location selection & lease negotiation, design, construction, staffing, music & entertainment, menu engineering, accounting, management of daily operations and more. Michael to this day has his pulse on all aspects of the business but properly delegates most of these duties to the diligent team he has assembled.
Since Michael opened The Living Room, he has developed some of the strongest brands in the business. In the Atlanta area, Eleven50 (Initially) which was remodeled into Opera, is a nationally recognized facility that was nominated for the 2011 Nightclub & Bar Magazine Nightclub of the Year.
Several locations in Cleveland’s Warehouse District followed, including the nightclub Funky Buddha, a trendy martini bar Fusion, the underground Club Ultra and Tequila Ranch a live music venue with mechanical bull. The suburban sports bar concept; The Boneyard had several locations, including a 30,000 sqft entertainment complex with banquet rooms, live event stage and a 2 million dollar plus arcade area. The Boneyard was featured in RePlay Magazine.
In the last eight years alone, since the 2008-2009 recession, Michael has designed and opened twelve new facilities, that embody five new concepts, in seven cities and two states. The cornerstones of these concepts are targeted atmosphere, approachable chef driven cuisine, and a unique, diverse, dedicated team that provides the best service in the industry. These venues are leaders within their respective developments. The concepts; One Red Door, Flip Side, 3 Palms, FWD, & Magnolia are detailed in the “Proven Concept Section”
Michael and the facilities he designed have been well know in their communities. This reputation has allowed some special clientele to pass through Michaels venues. Some highlights include: Janet Jacksons Birthday Celebration, Prince’s after party and impromptu performance, a live performance by Nelly Furtado, Events for Ted Turner, Lebron James & The Cavaliers, and The Chicago Cubs Organization.
After design and construction, Michael provides operational & facility oversight and leads the financial analysis and budgeting to ensure the venues are operating properly and profitably. Michael’s formula is to use his experience to design cutting-edge venues, use his curated team to construct the venues for less than the competition, and then use his financial background to ensure profitability.