C3 hires executives, leaders as it pursues aggressive expansion of culinary centers, virtual brands

20 leaders will support accelerated pace of growth on eve of Citizens Manhattan West opening

Digital-first C3, a collection of ondemand culinary centers, virtual restaurant brands and food halls, continues to strengthen its operation with the hiring of new executives, including Saul Cooperstiein, Emil Corsillo, Jillian O’Connor, Nima Fazeli, Jerry Garbus, Jason Wanamaker, and Jon LeVert, as well as a cadre group and functional leaders. These individuals will head the on-the-ground leadership team of C3 (Creating Culinary Communities) and support its growth.

These senior team members will be charged with a business that has a long runway in its future, as it opens additional food halls and virtual kitchens domestically and internationally. These staff appointments will also boost the likely success of the organization’s food hall openings, including Citizens Manhattan West and Citizens Atlanta at Phipps Plaza.

An expansion via virtual and physical assets

With the expansion of its virtual, fast-casual brands and the summer opening of Citizens Manhattan West food hall, C3 has hired 1,200 team members.

The announcement also comes on the heels of C3’s first international development agreement with Kitobi, a satellite kitchen provider, for expansion in the UAE and the Middle East.

C3 is exploring several opportunities to use its branding talents and knack for identifying underutilized real estate in key markets. Its brick-and-mortar locations will now get additional creativity and support with the creation of trendy beverage programs and cocktails through experienced personnel.

The roster of females added to the brand exemplify an investment in cut-above talent: Jillian O’Connor – Director of Design and Project Management, Yael Vengroff – Head of Bars & Mixology Programming for Katsuya and sBar, Lynn Bound – Culinary Director for Citizens Manhattan West and Mayency Prieto – General Manager of Katsuya at Manhattan West.

Leadership team appointments

Here are the new hires and promotions as described and provided by C3:

Saul Cooperstein joins as Chief Development Officer. Saul has more than 20 years of experience in brand development exclusively in hospitality. Saul was one of Sam Nazarian’s first employees at sbe Lifestyle Hospitality and helped grow the company from four F&B venues to 20 F&B venues and three hotels, along with a significant pipeline. Saul also served as the chief strategy officer and board member at Umami Burger before it was acquired by sbe. Additional career milestones include lead finance roles at Italian Kitchen USA when it merged into Barilla America Inc., serving as board member for 800 Degrees Neapolitan Pizzeria, and launching Laser Hospitality where he advised on strategy, growth and finance for major culinary entities like Plan Check Kitchen and Bar, Night Media, APL Restaurant and Chefs Aitor Zabala and Ben Ford. He also currently sits on the advisory board for Crave Delivery.

Emil Corsillo joins as Senior Director of Brand Strategy. Emil’s past experience lends a holistic understanding of lifestyle product and brand functions to C3. He previously founded The Hill-Side clothing brand and was recognized by GQ as Best New Menswear Designer in America and designed a capsule collection for The Gap x GQ. He also worked side-by-side with flagship retail brands including PUMA, CB2, Woolrich, Toms, and launched actor Will Smith’s Bel-Air Athletics apparel brand.

Jillian O’Connor joins as Director of Design and Project Management. Jillian shares over nine years of experience in restaurant and retail. Her work experience includes design development, site assessments, permitting and construction management with industry-leading firms such as The Madera Group, FE Design & Consulting, Patrick Ediger Interior Design and Philippa Radon Design.

Nima Fazeli joins as Vice President of Real Estate. He brings nearly a decade of real estate experience spanning investments, acquisitions, development and management working with hospitality and commercial real estate. Most recently, Nima managed assets for hospitality brands including Hyatt, Hilton and Marriott. He holds an MBA in Hospitality Real Estate from Cornell University.

Jerry Garbus joins as Senior Director of Operations at sbe Lifestyle Hospitality. Jerry brings over 20 years of hospitality experience and with work with the Manhattan Beach Post, Fishing With Dynamite, The Arthur J, Ocean Avenue Seafood and P.F. Chang’s.


Jason Wanamaker joins as Communications Director. He returns to the team having worked with sbe previously on agency-level campaigns for XIV restaurant, SLS Hotel Beverly Hills and The Redbury Hollywood. Jason brings a background in restaurant, hospitality and lifestyle public relations to his new role overseeing all communications efforts for C3 and Disruptive Restaurant Group brands. He has spearheaded successful press campaigns for restaurants including Spago Beverly Hills with Chef Wolfgang Puck, Ago Restaurant with Chef Agostino Sciandri, Plantlab with plant-based chef Matthew Kenney, Rande Gerber’s Cafe Habana in Malibu and Chef John Fraser with Ardor at The West Hollywood EDITION.

Jon LeVert joins as Digital Content Creator. Jon brings digital experience to the team as a director, video editor and photographer. He has worked at various agencies for some of the world’s most recognizable brands including Adidas, Volkswagen, Gap, WeWork, Coca-Cola, Jack Daniels, HP, Lavazza and Chevron. Jon is also the creator of ‘The Bet,’ a YouTube action-comedy web series with over 5 million views and the founder of Blackstone Avenue, a content production collective.

Jason Jeffords joins as Corporate Beverage Director. Jason’s tenure spans more than 20 years exclusively in the beverage industry where he developed a passion for crafting delicious cocktails using natural ingredients and with a culinary aspect in mind. Jason’s experience includes beverage and operations management for some of the biggest and buzziest concepts in New York including Blue Ribbon Restaurant Group, Catch New York, Gotham Bar and Grill, Pegu Club, 230 Fifth and Russian Tea Room. He is also a certified Sommelier. Most recently, Jason served as General Manager for the acclaimed gastropub 2nd Floor Bar & Essen at 2nd Ave Deli.

Brian Miller joins as Head of Bars & Mixology Programming, C3. Brian’s 15-year career includes stints at several New York bars including Pegu Club, Tanqueray Gin, and ZZ’s Calm Bar before coining and hosting the wildly popular “Tiki Monday’s with Miller,” a Polynesian themed pop-up bar around the world. Brian has served as an advisor to major liquor brands including Bacardi, Compari, Captain Morgan and Johnny Walker. In 2018 he opened The Polynesian, a bar in New York’s Times Square which was recognized by Esquire Magazine as one of America’s Best Bars. Brian serves as a current guest lecturer at Yale University as the resident “Tiki expert.”

Yael Vengroff joins as Head of Bars & Mixology Programming, Katsuya and sBar. Yael’s career spans some of the most storied bars in New York City (Tailor, Pegu Club, Painkiller), Los Angeles (The Spare Room in The Hollywood Roosevelt hotel, Genghis Cohen, Winsome) and Houston (Grand Prize). She is one of the most sought-after mixologists in the US with accolades that span being named Best American Bartender at the prestigious Tales of the Cocktail, Wine Enthusiast’s 40 Under 40 Tastemaker 2018, and winner of the women-only charity speed competition Speed Rack. Yael’s incredible mastery is due in part to mentorship from some of the industry’s most respected bartenders, including Alex Day (Proprietors LLC), Audrey Saunders (Pegu Club), and Giuseppe Gonzalez (Suffolk Arms).

Michael Israel joins as Chef of Culinary Development. Michael’s diverse career ranges from three-star Michelin restaurants to iconic global brands. He began his career as a culinary liaison at Thomas Keller Restaurant Group before co-founding MOE Deli, an award-winning food truck and pop-up restaurant in the Los Angeles area. Michael later taught at Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts before becoming executive chef and partner at Huckleberry Café, a pioneer in farm-to-table dining. Most recently, Michael was a senior manager of culinary development and corporate chef at Cheesecake Factory.

Robert Larcom joins as Director of Operations at Manhattan West. Robert is a seasoned restaurant industry veteran with more than 20 years of experience. Prior to C3, Michael served as the general manager of Politan Row, a food hall incubator in Chicago. His career began at Myraid Restaurant Group where he served as the food and beverage director at Inn and Lost Creek and director of outlets at W Hotels in Seattle before joining the corporate office as a director of special projects. Michael was the owner and operator of The Redhead Restaurant for 10 years before joining Munchery, an online food and delivery service, as director of operations.

Lynn Bound joins as Culinary Director for Citizens Manhattan West, C3’s first food hall. Lynn has extensive chef experience with diverse cuisines. Career highlights include work with 54 Below Supper Club and The Museum of Modern Art, Great Performances Events. Most recently with 54 Below, Lynn managed and led full-service operations for a 20-person kitchen staff while working on new recipe development and leading the company’s special events program.

Noah Brown joins as Multi-Unit Operations Manager, Umami Burger. With over 20 years of experience in the restaurant, food and beverage industry, Noah has worked restaurants and brands including The Yard House, California Club as well as Bicos Hospitality.

Ryne Hughes joins as General Manager QSR Manhattan West. Ryne previously served as Director of Food & Beverage at Barry’s Bootcamp overseeing 47 domestic and 23 international market locations. He has extensive experience directing joint ventures, franchises and corporate studios. Prior to his work with Barry’s, Ryne served as Director of Operations with Ocomoco & Speedy Romeo and Puesto Mexican Street Food.

Mayency Prieto joins as General Manager, Katsuya at Manhattan West. As one of the anchors to Citizens Food Hall by C3, Mayency will play a key role in opening the first New York City location of Katsuya, at Brookfield Property’s Manhattan West development. Her management experience spans over ten years with popular brands including JF Hospitality, The Ribbon, Oscar Wilde and P.F. Chang’s.

Lucy Tashdjian joins as HR Business Partner, West Coast. Lucy joins the team following work in the HR department for the Alinea Restaurant Group which is well known for Alinea Restaurant, Roister Restaurant, The Aviary and Next Restaurant. Prior, Lucy worked in the non-profit space for the Motion Picture Association of America as well as CBS Television Studios.


Jazmin Marrero joins as HR Business Partner, East Coast. During her career she has worked with major brands including Sushi Samba, The Meatball Shop, One World Observatory and more recently Barry’s Bootcamp. Her past experience makes her a strong resource as C3 expands operations on the east coast.

Bridgid Billingsley Jones, CPA joins as Controller. Bridgid has more than 12 years of accounting experience in the hospitality industry. Her experience includes serving as the corporate controller at Windsor Capital Group where she managed the corporate accounting department and property controllers at ten different hotels. Prior to that, Bridgid served as finance director at The Standard in Hollywood and Sheraton Delfina Hotel in Santa Monica.

JC Ayon-Torres joins as HR Generalist. Prior to joining SBE, JC worked at Northland Controls, Crate & Barrel, Taylor Farms Pacific, and Swenson Steel Products. JC has over five years of experience working in the human resources field working in various sectors of the workforce such as manufacturing, food manufacturing, supply chain, and most recently construction/security.

Alara Ayazi joins as Recruiting Coordinator. Alara joins C3’s Los Angeles recruiting team after spending time in contract recruiting for the medical field and working at an agency for Finance/IT recruitment in Boston. She was also part of the talent acquisition team at British American Tobacco in Istanbul. Alara has hospitality operations experience, spending nearly five years managing a quick-service pizza concept in Massachusetts

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