Founder and CEO
Partner, Vice President of Development & F.M.
Senior Vice President of Operations
vice president of Business Development
PARTNER, DIRECTOR OF REAL ESTATE
creative project manager
human resources director
partner, Chief counsel
DIRECTOR OF OPERATIONS,
East Hampton Sandwich Co.
Vice President of Operations
Vice President of Culinary
Chief financial officer
Director of Training & OpERATION Services
Founder and CEO
Bio: Hunter is the Founder and CEO of Vandelay Hospitality Group and serves as its current Chairman of the Board.
Hunter founded the business in 2012 at the age of 24 with the launching of the first concept in East Hampton Sandwich Company. Named to the Forbes 30 under 30, along with numerous other accolades, Hunter continues to focus on leading the company into multiple different verticles within the hospitality space.
Education: Texas Tech University, B.A.
Bio: Kyle is a founding partner of Vandelay Hospitality Group.
Growing up in the restaurant industry, Kyle has had a passion for the business for a significant part of his life. He followed that passion with his pursuit and receipt of a Restaurant Hotel & Institutional Management degree at Texas Tech University. After graduation, Kyle joined the Chili's Brand Strategy team at Brinker International. Presented with the opportunity to join the Vandelay team as a partner in 2014, Kyle left Brinker and has been overseeing marketing for the Vandelay brands ever since.
Education: Texas Tech University, B.S.
Partner, VP, Development & F.M.
Bio: Wes Freeman is a Partner and Vice President of Development & F.M. for Vandelay Hospitality Group.
Originally from South Carolina, Wes attended Auburn University and majored in Finance. While assisting in the explosive growth of the fast-casual brand, Zoe's Kitchen, from 8 to 55 units, he made his way to Dallas, Texas. Seeking to continue his education in the hospitality space, Wes took a position with NCR to grow its hospitality software sales division. While visiting customers one day, he found his way to the original East Hampton Sandwich Company location and knew he had to get on the Vandelay team as soon as possible.
Education: Auburn University, B.A.
PARTNER, DIRECTOR OF REAL ESTATE
Bio: Matt is a Partner and the Director of Real Estate for Vandelay Hospitality Group.
Matt had worked in all aspects of commercial real estate project leasing, buy, sell, development and tenant representation. Matt really found his passion for the business working with restauranteurs, and helping them achieve their specific goals. Matt was raised in Texas and is the holder of a Texas Real Estate Commission’s salesperson license and a member of ICSC.
Education: College of Charleston, B.A.
Vice President of Business Development
Bio: Lauren is Vice President of Business Development for Vandelay Hospitality Group.
Lauren spent nine years in New York, leading business development in her role as Vice President, Strategic Partnerships & Special Events for the world’s leading auction house, Christie’s. Lauren lead the Americas team in creating luxury brand partnerships, cultivating new and existing business, and ultimately driving revenue for the Kering brand. She was responsible for all food and beverage, catering and site rentals for Christie's US flagship location at 20 Rockefeller Plaza. Escaping the cold, Lauren moved to the West Coast, where she built sales, marketing, and operational infrastructures for start-up luxury brands including The Private Suite at LAX, Accor Hotel Group's onefinestay brand, and a Silicon Valley platform that was later acquired by Expedia.
Education: University of South Carolina, B.A.
SENIOR VP, OPERATIONS
Bio: Jon Peck serves as Senior Vice President of Operations at Vandelay Hospitality Group.
Jon started his career in the restaurant business in 2006 after serving four successful years in the United States Marine Corps, including two tours overseas. After leaving the Marine Corps, Jon enrolled in school for Restaurant Management, and began working for Darden Restaurants’ growth brand, Seasons 52. Over his eight year career with Seasons 52 he saw the brand grow from 5 restaurants to 45 restaurants, all the while working his way up from Server to Managing Partner. In 2014, Jon joined Del Frisco’s Restaurant Group as opening General Manager of their Woodlands, TX location. He was promoted 2 years later in 2016 to Regional Director of Operations, whereby he oversaw 6 restaurants across two states. Jon is an avid reader and is passionate about leadership development, he has been recognized multiple times throughout his career for increasing employee performance and engagement.
creative project manager
Bio: Lauren serves as the Creative Project Manager at Vandelay Hospitality Group.
Lauren discovered a passion for painting during her time at Southern Methodist University, where she earned a degree in Engineering and Creative Computation. Upon graduation, Lauren served as a creative professional for Siemens Smart Infrastructure, designing interfaces and branding for various clients. With her creative engineering background, Lauren blends smart, functional design with timeless composition. As an artist, her elegant freehand adds a polished flare to branding elements of Vandelay.
Education: Southern Methodist University, B.A.
Human Resources Director
Bio: Aubri serves as Human Resources Director and Corporate Administration for Vandelay Hospitality Group.
She brings a culture-centric background and passion for employee and customer satisfaction. Aubri's numerous honors include several achievement awards for her project work, creation of company mission, vision and value statements, book publishing, managing international conference events, and creating a company culture.
Partner, chief counsel
Bio: Chris McNeill of Block, Garden & McNeill, serves as Chief Counsel for Vandelay Hospitality Group in all legal matters.
He is an experienced mergers and acquisitions specialist, along with securities and blue sky law, financial transactions, and corporate governance. He previously worked as an Associate with Fish & Richardson P.C. in the Corporate and Securities group (2003-2007) and as an Associate with Fulbright & Jaworski L.L.P. in the Corporate, Securities and Transactions Department (2001-2003).
Education: The University of Mississippi, B.A. summa cum laude; Harvard Law School J.D. 2001; Harvard Journal of Law & Public Policy
Bio: Kathryn serves as the Marketing Manager for Vandelay Hospitality Group.
She began her marketing career in the Dallas technology start-up world, helping to create a mobile app based around large events and conventions. Discovering a passion for events and bringing people together, she went on to work in events for Boka Restaurant Group in Chicago. There, Kathryn solidified her love for the hospitality industry—realizing that it is truly magical to create and be ringside to some of the greatest moments in people’s lives.
Education: University of North Texas, B.B.A.
Bio: Steven serves as the Director of Operations for Vandelay Hospitality Group.
He studied Culinary Arts at Texas State Technical Institute while working as a saucier for ClubCorp’s Brazos Club in Waco, Tx. Steven has previously served as a Director of Operations for Applebees, Starbucks, and Potbelly Sandwich companies. In these experiences, he engulfed himself in the development of operational standards. Next, Steven returned to ClubCorp as the Director of Operations for the Baylor Club located in McLane Stadium. Hospitality has always been the center of Steven’s life; he learned the values of hard work and determination at a young age by working in his family’s restaurant. Steven looks forward to continuing the development of people and creating new concepts with the VHG team.
DIRECTOR OF OPERATIONS, East Hampton Sandwich Co.
Bio: James Douglas serves as Vice President of Culinary at Vandelay Hospitality Group.
James is a native Texan who has resided in Miami, Atlanta, Southern California, East Hampton, New Orleans, and Houston, he credits his culinary range to the great many teachers who welcomed him into their kitchens. His culinary repertoire flourished during his 22-year career with Hillstone Restaurant Group. James completed workshops at The Culinary Institute of America Grey Stone with HRG in 1999-2001, and he extended his skills to all outlets of the organization. After serving as a General Manager, James went on to lead the Culinary Program for many locations nationwide. James has been recognized throughout his career for his strong leadership, high standards, and undying commitment to excellence.
VICE PRESIDENT OF CULINARY
Bio: Jeff Lee serves as Vice President of Operations at Vandelay Hospitality Group.
Jeff’s food and beverage career began at age thirteen, where he worked in the kitchen at acclaimed Aunt Rose’s Italian Restaurant, in Key West, Florida. Jeff joined Hillstone Restaurant Group in 2002. Over the next fifteen years, Jeff worked his way from a junior management position, to various senior leadership positions, including Executive Chef, playing a key role in restaurant design in construction for multiple locations throughout the US. Next, Jeff joined Dream Hotel Group as Vice President of Food & Beverage and Development. During his four years at Dream, Jeff was tasked with growing the F&B internally across 18 existing lifestyle hotels, and the development of an additional 25 projects worldwide.
VICE PRESIDENT OF OPERATIONS
Bio: Kendall Helfenbein is Chief Financial Officer for Vandelay Hospitality Group, overseeing accounting, finance, treasury and compliance.
Kendall spent the first 4 years after college at KPMG then the next 6 at two other large regional accounting firms. Kendall then became CFO of the largest H&R Block franchise ever with 630 locations in multiple states. After the sale of H&R Block he became CFO of Romacorp, Inc. owner and franchisor of Tony Roma’s with 150 restaurants in 30 countries and during that time was named CFO of the Year by the Dallas Business Journal. He has also been CFO of a 45 office medical practice and CFO of a staffing firm with 80 offices in the United States.
VICE PRESIDENT OF OPERATIONS
Bio: Chrissie serves as Director of Training and Ops Services at Vandelay Hospitality.
Restaurants have always been at the center of her life. Chrissie was born into a family that owned and operated a restaurant in Colorado Springs, CO for over 50 years. Pursuing her love for hospitality, she graduated with a degree in Restaurant and Resort Management from Colorado State University. She started her career with P.F.Chang's in Tempe, AZ where she went on to open multiple locations across the United States for P.F.Chang’s. Chrissie continued on to become an Operating Partner for 10 years before taking a leap of faith and moving to Texas where she worked as VP of sales and accounts for a local outdoor living company. It wasn’t long before she returned to the restaurant industry with North Italia.
DIRECTOR OF TRAINING
AND OPERATION SERVICES