Changes in the Momofuku empire today: Chef David Chang has hired a new president to run all of the restaurants nationwide — a former financial world guy who worked for the Batali and Bastianich group for 13 years during a massive growth period. Momofuku Holdings announced on Tuesday that Alex Munoz-Suarez will start his position running all the restaurants on May 1. Former Momofuku president Andrew Salmon is now an advisor to Milk Bar.
Chang has hinted for some time that his New York-grown restaurant group may need bigger corporate guns to run the growing empire, which now includes seven restaurants plus Milk Bars in New York and even more internationally.
In a Fast Company story last year, the chef said that he might need to hire someone with more corporate experience in order for his restaurants to grow. “I’m at a point where maybe I’ve given it the best that I’ve got, and I don’t know if I’m the guy who can take it forward,” Chang said at the time. “It would be foolish to think that we’re not at a crossroads.” Late last year, Momofuku Holdings also took on a a new investor, Related Companies chairman Stephen M. Ross.
With a Harvard MBA and years in huge hospitality groups, Munoz-Suarez is apparently that executive. Most recently, he was the chief operating officer at The One Group, a company whose portfolio includes clubby Meatpacking District businesses like Bagatelle and the Gansevoort. He has been there for about a year.
Prior to that, he spent a good chunk of his restaurant group career at Batali & Bastianich Hospitality Group. When he left, he was the the president of the group’s Pacific division. In his 13 years, the company went from five restaurants in New York to 32 in the world.
Chang said in a statement that Munoz-Suarez role “is a great cultural fit for Momofuku and our continued evolution.” Munoz-Suarez noted that he plans to “create the required corporate systems” to support the company’s many restaurants.