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Biographies of Principals

Jeff McNeal’s 25 years in the hospitality industry encompasses many aspects of the food service business including restaurant ownership, daily operations management, menu and food costing, financial controls, human resource management and staff training.

Prior to joining Fessel International, Jeff was Vice President of Operations and Development at ZGolf Food & Beverage Services, which operates the Wedgewood Wedding & Banquet Centers brand. Jeff led Wedgewood’s growth in Southern California to over eighteen new locations.

Jeff has managed the foodservice operations for ARAMARK at Angel Stadium, founded, owned and operated a chain of fast casual restaurants, and was responsible for the management and training for numerous small restaurant and hotel chains and franchise restaurant operators.

Mr. Hiatt has been involved in all aspects of the Food Service industry for over thirty years.  After early training with a Marriott affiliate, he was with the Walt Disney Company for twelve years in restaurant operations, financial analysis and project development.  Among his duties there were the complete restaurant development for EPCOT Center and the restaurant logistics for Tokyo Disneyland.

Randall spent six years as Vice President of Food and Beverage for the diverse Grace Restau­rant Company and Vice President of Operations for its successor, Restaurant Enterprises.

Mr. Hiatt, Founder, was President of Fessel International for 26 years during which he led over 1000 restaurant projects.

Mr. Chikaraishi is the President of Thomas and Chikaraishi Inc., Japan’s premier consulting firm in the hospitality industry.  Formed twenty-five years ago, this firm counts among its clients Japan’s major trading companies (C. Itoh and Sumitomo), the largest restaurant companies (Royal and Kentucky Fried Chicken), independent restaurants, and the finest hotels, such as the Hotel Seiyo Ginza.

Thomas and Chikaraishi Inc. does project planning, restaurant development, operational analy­sis and organization development.  In addition, Mr. Chikaraishi is the founder of H&RI, a hotel and restaurant management school that specializes in intensive training courses.  Specific courses are developed for companies or properties, and standard courses on Service, Food and Beverage, Administration and other aspects of the hospitality field are offered.  Most of Japan’s key organizations have sent participants to these classes.

Mr. Lawless is Vice President and Senior Consultant for Fessel International and specializes in strategic planning for a wide variety of clients.  Prior to joining Fessel International in 1993, Gene was associate Vice President for Auxiliary Services for University of Southern California, a $100 million University services department.  Gene's background also includes master planning for the 1984 Summer Olympic Games and the 1986 Winter Games, and food service leadership positions at Rochester Institute of Technology and Cornell University. 

Gene has assisted our clients in a wide variety of projects, including master planning of college and university, hospital and theme park food services, concept and business plan development for start-up companies, operations analysis and brand concept positioning.  Mr. Lawless also has an extensive background in the preparation of Requests For Proposal and Proposal Responses for non-profit governmental agencies, food service operators and colleges. 


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