Michael Kaufman joined Astor Group in early 2015. A nationally recognized leader in the hospitality industry, Michael has led major restaurant chains, created and successfully exited a restaurant start-up, innovated a restaurant brand for a luxury retailer, and served on various boards within the industry. Michael has also served as an investment banker and an M&A lawyer in New York City. Prior to joining Astor Group, Michael served as President of Metromedia Restaurant Group, a billion-dollar company comprised of Bennigan’s, Steak and Ale, Bonanza and Ponderosa, led the creation and implementation of a multi-unit luxury restaurant concept for Saks Fifth Avenue, co-founded, operated and sold a restaurant group to Centerplate, Inc., and established Pond Hill Ventures LLC. to advise and invest in hospitality ventures. Michael previously served as a managing director of the acquisition arm of Metromedia Company completing acquisitions in the restaurant, software, motion picture and automotive parts segments, and as a corporate and mergers and acquisitions lawyer with Paul Weiss Rifkind Wharton and Garrison in New York City.
In addition to his deep operational and advisory experience, Michael has served as Chairman of the Board of the National Restaurant Association, is a Trustee emeritus of The Culinary Institute of America and the NRA’s Educational Foundation and a Trustee of Northern Westchester Hospital, and has served on the Boards of Benihana, Inc., Culinary Concepts by Jean-Georges, and the Chappaqua School Foundation (including as its President). Michael is also a member of the Consumer Executive Advisory Board of Gryphon Investors, a San Francisco private equity firm.
His awards include the Cecil B. Day Ethics Award, FTA Hospitality Award for Leadership Excellence, and the Golden Chain Award. Michael is a graduate of Harvard College, magna cum laude, and Harvard Law School, cum laude.