Brand Breeding: Interesting New Terminology for Portfolio Building?


Had not heard this term before but it’s a very visual way of describing building brand portfolios.

I first read about it on Hospitality Net specifically related to hotels:

  • The world’s 10 largest hotel companies combined have more than 115 brands, one-third of which didn’t exist a decade ago.
  • New brand creation in recent years has been mostly centered on lifestyle hotels (many millennial-focused) and “soft-brand” extensions of the major players (Tapestry by Hilton, Autograph by Marriott, Hilton’s Curio Collection, Hyatt’s Unbound Collection, Choice Hotels’ Ascend Collection, Wyndham’s Trademark Collection, among others).
  • There are no signs of brand breeding slowing down.

I’m also seeing brand breeding playing out with restaurateurs and chefs. One element of brand breeding that sets it apart from line extensions is that each brand has a distinct personality and vibe.

Read on below for examples of restaurant industry brand breeding.


Starr Restaurants/ Stephen Starr



This guy is a genius. Based in Philadelphia. At last count, 32 restaurants around the country including one in Paris. Several of his NYC restaurants are among my favorites:

  •  Le Coucou (pic upper right)
  • Upland
  • El Vez


Major Food Group/ 3 Partners include Mario Carbone, Jeff Zalaznick, Rich Torrisi



These guys first got on my radar when they opened Parm on Mulberry Street. Tiny red-sauce spot that always had lines around the block.

  • They have at least 9 brands (maybe more, several of the brands have multiple locations).
  • Their crème de la crème operation is the Grill and Pool restaurants in the former Four Seasons restaurant space in the Seagram’s Building. Millions have been spent on that renovation – in collaboration with Aby Rosen.
  • Their restaurants tend to be “see and be seen” spots – beautiful-looking, buzzy, hard to get into but they are also hit and miss when it comes to food.

My favorites include:

  •  Sadelle’s (very fancy bagel and smoked fish place in Soho)
  • Carbone (Frank Sinatra-style Italian on Thompson Street)
  • Santina (Mediterranean in Meatpacking District)

Hugely disappointed in Dirty French (Ludlow Hotel) and Parm on the Westside


Three Kings Restaurant Group/ Dale Talde, John Bush, David Massoni



  • Dale Talde is the front man at this New York based restaurant and hospitality company inspired by all things Brooklyn.
  • The company has 6 different brands (several in multiple locations).
  • The newest is Rice & Gold, the Dim Sum parlor in the Bowery 50 Hotel that I’ve written about before.
  • I love all of their restaurants – the vibe, the food (which is extremely flavorful across brands) and the locations are always peak cool e.g. Brooklyn, downtown Manhattan and NoMad, Jersey City.

Several of their restaurants are now located in hotels where they are responsible for F&B throughout the establishment.


Union Square Hospitality Group/ Danny Meyer



Danny Meyer is a superstar and leading voice in the hospitality world. Renowned for wonderfully warm and friendly service and for putting his staff first (before guests). He pioneered the gratuity-included movement (for which he is now being sued).

  • The company currently has 17 restaurants plus the Shake Shack chain (which has locations around the country.
  • USHG restaurants have not been uniformly wonderful. Nor have they always succeeded. Tabla was the most high-profile failure.

My favorites include:

  • Maialino (phenomenal Italian in the Gramercy Park Hotel)
  • Porchlight (a fabulous bar with small menu of snack foods in Chelsea – it has odd hours, however, and never seems to be open when I want a drink)


Batali & Bastianich Hospitality Group



Mario Batali, Joe Bastianich and Lidia Bastianich are the distinctive forces behind an eclectic group of critically acclaimed and beloved restaurants with locations throughout the world (20 brands, several in multiple locations).

  • They also have a partnership with Nancy Silverton in LA and opened the Mozza restaurants which have now spread to Singapore.
  • A unique offering of B&BHG is Eataly, an Italian marketplace they brought to America in partnership with the company’s founder, Oscar Farinetti. Eataly has locations in several cities in the U.S. and will shortly open a food “theme park” in Bologna, Italy.

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