Founded in 2015 by seasoned restaurant operators, Jason Berry and Michael Reginbogen, KNEAD Hospitality + Design (KNEAD) is an award-winning, multi-concept restaurant group, unique in its offering of both hospitality and design under one roof. Based in Washington, DC, the business has experienced rapid growth over the last eight years, almost tripling in size from 300 to 800 employees and adding nine new locations in 2021, despite the challenges presented by the pandemic. Today, KNEAD operates in 20 locations with over 1000 team members and maintains exciting and ambitious growth projections for the future.
KNEAD’s ten exciting restaurant concepts offer customers a full range of unique dining experiences: from elevated casual dining, showcasing a range of cuisines including Mexican, Southern, French, American and Steak, to fast casual concepts, featuring burgers, tacos, pizzas, and bakeries. The business also caters to large parties and private dining, including weddings, birthdays, cocktail parties, and corporate events. KNEAD’s restaurants offer a range of spectacular interiors with several spaces available for private or semi-private dining experiences, as well as customizable menu and hors d’oeuvre options, tailored to the budget and preferences of each customer.
When it comes to its offerings, KNEAD is well-regarded as an industry leader in restaurant design, concept development and operations. Propelled by the philosophy that guests ‘eat with their eyes,’ the business has successfully developed its reputation for selecting the best locations and creating the best restaurant concepts for the neighbourhood, local community and surrounding guest bases. Co-founder, Principal and Design Director, Michael Reginbogin sheds light on the company’s innovation and creative processes: “We tend to always find the space first. This is because the location will drive what we envision will fit in that neighborhood, based on the surrounding area, existing restaurants and demographics. Once we are able to evaluate that, we then come up with a concept, design and a suitable chef to help us execute the vision.”
The knowledge acquired by KNEAD’s founders, Michael Reginbogin and Jason Berry, from a successful professional history working in the hospitality industry, has proven to be a huge asset in the evolution of the business. After graduating from the University of Southern California (USC), Michael established himself in the industry working for the Hillstone family of restaurants, forming the foundation for the career path that followed. Michael excelled in leadership roles at numerous, well-respected restaurant groups across the nation including the TAO Group, BR Guest Restaurant Group, Samba Brands Management and Dream Hotels.
From a young age, Jason has held a passion for cooking and dining, gravitating towards the restaurant industry so as to combine his love of food with his deep respect for genuine hospitality. He graduated from USC in Business Entrepreneurship and Japanese as well as gaining an MBA from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania. Jason spent the next three decades working with a wide variety of concepts within the restaurant industry, later taking on the position of Chief Operating Officer at Rosa Mexicano. After spending years working for other people in the hospitality industry, Michael and Jason decided it was time to turn their experience, creativity, and passion towards developing their own business, and so KNEAD was formed.
Since the company’s inception, it has encountered numerous notable milestones and boasts a host of awards and accolades to demonstrate its success. In 2019, the Michelin Guide awarded one of the group’s restaurants, Succotash, a Bib Gourmand and in 2021 the business received the “Good Neighbor Award” from the RAMMY’s. KNEAD’s innovation and inclusivity have also been recognised, being named as the largest LGBTQ+ company in the greater DC area in 2021 and 2022, as well as winning the Washington Business Journal’s INNO Fire Awards which celebrates the most innovative DC companies, and WBJ’s and Nation Restaurant’s News Power 100. Founders, Jason and Michael, have equally received recognition for their efforts, being selected as semi-finalists in the highly acclaimed James Beard Awards for outstanding restaurateurs in 2023.
Innovation, passion, and creativity
Jason and Michael dedicate the evolution and success of the business to a continuous effort to create new opportunities for the KNEAD team and community, becoming one of the most-forward thinking and influential hospitality groups in the US. KNEAD is constantly evolving when it comes to working culture, introducing several new initiatives to improve conditions for team members. Over the past few years, a number of structural changes have been tested, including the introduction of a four-day work week. This is designed to offer salaried staff more flexibility within the highly demanding hospitality industry, enabling them to focus their energy on performing in the restaurant whilst on site and completing other admin tasks from home.
Another recently introduced initiative is the KNEAD Life + Style benefits package, a reimbursement program which covers dining, entertainment, gym memberships, dry cleaning, and personal grooming expenses. The purpose of this is to support salaried employees in seeking a healthy work life balance by providing them with the means to enjoy their time away from work and providing them with the necessary respite to ultimately improve focus and enthusiasm levels whilst on the job.
As the company nears its ten-year anniversary, Jason reflects on how far the business has come and projections for the future: “We always knew we wanted to be bigger than one location or concept, but we didn’t expect to grow as quickly as we did. We are thrilled with how far the business has come and look forward to further evolution as our team grows alongside KNEAD. We will continue to capitalize on the goodwill and amazing brands we have created.” Looking to the future, KNEAD is excited to begin growing outside of the mid-Atlantic region, currently considering cutting edge developments in Boston, Philadelphia, and Virginia Beach. Further down the line, the business hopes to experience international growth as it continues to apply the innovation, passion and creativity which has brought it to where it is today.