Virtual Hospitality Group is comprised of food & beverage industry experts who have a variety of experience in restaurants, bars, QSR’s, recreation and leisure time facilities, large scale special events, private and governmental organizations, employee and student dining, vending, as well as Native American Casinos throughout the country. These seasoned experts work together to create a breadth of experience, with the common thread of hospitality excellence.
Mark W. Healey – Principle
Virtual Hospitality Group, LLC
Mr. Mark Healey has over thirty-five years in the hospitality industry. In 2006, Mark and co-founder Robert J Stephan launched Virtual Hospitality Group, LLC. (VHG). The company serves a broad range of complex food, beverage, and hospitality markets in three ways: (1) as a management services provider; (2) as a design and development services provider; and (3) by providing training and development for client teams.
Mark’s retail and contract experience spans business & industry sites, recreation & leisure venues, as well as working with federal and state agencies. Mark has held senior positions Shula’s Steak Houses, LLLP; Ovations Food Services, LP; and Boston Culinary Group, LLC., leading projects in 28 states and Canada. From 2006 to 2016 VHG provided the alcoholic beverage services for WEFEST in Detroit Lakes MN. WEFEST is the largest and longest running Country Music and Camping Festival in the US with typically attendance for the three days approaching 150,000.
Mark heads up VHG’s effort in Recreation & Leisure time accounts and concentrates much of his efforts working with Native American Casinos and Resorts to maximize their food, beverage, and hotel opportunities.Read More
In addition to casino operations, Mark has significant experience in sports, entertainment, convention and leisure time food and beverage services including: arenas, stadiums, amphitheaters, performing arts centers, winter, summer and 4-season resorts, convention and conference centers, hotels, thoroughbred racetracks, NASCAR and auto tracks, and special events. Since the 1980’s Mark has been a proponent and innovator of brands and branding in non-destination venues, including working with dozens of national, regional and proprietary brands throughout the country. Mark has been a guest lecturer at Boston University, and worked with Harvard University’s business school on a brand marketing project for second year MBA students. Additionally, Mark has been a guest speaker/participant at the International Association of Assembly Manager’s national meetings, the National Association of Blind Merchants, the National Indian Gaming Association annual tradeshows, the Global Gaming Expo, and the Oklahoma Indian Gaming Association annual conference and tradeshows.
Prior to Ovations, Mark held the post of ARS Division President of Food Services from 2004 to 2006. ARS is a contract food service, vending and training provider which focused on state and federal contracts in various agencies including the United States Postal Service, the Social Security Administration, and the State Commissions for the Blind in New York, Florida, and Maryland. Prior to his post as Division President Mark was an executive on loan to ARS from 1994 to 2002 while at Boston Culinary Group. Mark spent thirteen years working for Boston Culinary Group in various operational and corporate assignments including General Manager, Regional Manager, Regional Vice President, Vice President of Business Development, and Vice President of Corporate Development.
Mark is responsible for more than one hundred and fifty restaurant or food services openings. Prior to entering into the recreation and leisure time contracting segment of the business, Mark was a Regional Manager for Sbarro Corporation opening 24 locations on the east coast, he also developed a chain of home delivery Chinese food restaurants called Hop Too’s, and worked for Burger King Corporation.
In high school and while attending Southeastern Massachusetts University, Mark gained great experience and a love for the business at several exclusive restaurants and inns in New England and Florida. Mark lives in Boca Raton with his wife and twin daughters and he is an avid golfer in his spare time.
National & Regional Brand Experience:
- Shula’s Great American Steakhouse
- Burger King
- Dick Clark’s American Bandstand Express
- Countryville Bar & Grill – presented by the American Music Awards
- Sbarro the Italian Eatery
- Pizza Hut
- Fat Burger
- Famous Famiglia
- Dunkin Donuts
- Au Bon Pain
- Kowloon Express
- Panda Express
- Ling & Louie’s Asian Bar & Grill
- Sonny’s BBQ
Robert J. Stephan – Principle
Virtual Hospitality Group, LLC
Mr. Robert J. Stephan has over thirty years in the hospitality industry. In 2006, Rob and co-founder Mark W. Healey launched Virtual Hospitality Group, LLC. (VHG). The company serves a broad range of complex food, beverage, and hospitality markets in three ways: (1) as a management services provider; (2) as a design and development services provider; and (3) by providing training and development for client teams.
Rob’s retail and contract experience spans business & industry, recreation & leisure venues, as well as working with federal and state agencies. Rob holds a senior positions at Presitge Services, Inc., one of the largest Canteen licensees in the USA.; and worked in Sales and Business Development for Aramatic Refreshment Services, Inc; spending the early part of his career as an owner operator of small clubs while working with Bob and Ron’s Fish Fry. In his career he has lead projects and start ups throughout the East Coast from NY to Florida. From 2006 to 2016 VHG provided the alcoholic beverage services for WEFEST in Detroit Lakes MN. WEFEST is the largest and longest running Country Music and Camping Festival in the US with typically attendance for the three days approaching 150,000.
Rob leads VHG’s efforts in Business & Industry accounts and concentrating on working with Government Agencies to maximize their food, beverage, and retail opportunities.
Max Van Rees – Facility Design
Virtual Hospitality Group, LLC
Max has more than 40 years’ experience in facility design and procurement. He began as a salesperson for a large Midwest equipment and supplies company in 1970, his territory covered the state of Iowa. In 1982 Max moved to a new Sales Management position in Winter Park FL, his duties included design services, supply and installation of equipment and furnishings, and complete turnkey packages for several chain restaurant accounts. In 1985 Max became a manufacturer’s representative with a South Florida brokerage covering central and northern Florida. Max eventually represented twenty-six factories in this capacity.Read More
1991 – Hospitality Supply (Division of Superior Products) recruited Max as a Project Manager with responsibly for estimating projects, preparation of design and rough-in drawings, project budgets, and supervision of on-site installations. To stay current Max attended Valencia Community College and became certified in AutoCad. This great expanded his full range of projects for Hospitality Supply.
1998 – Max was instrumental introducing a new look for public facilities in the recreation and leisure time hospitality venues. Taking his career in a new direction. Given the opportunity to design sports venues, and convention centers, while also managing some of these same projects from start to competition afforded Max the opportunity to make sure the projects turned out the way they were planned. Max also worked as a project manager on several projects that he did not design, but was responsible for estimating costs, preparation of all rough-in drawings, logistics management, purchase orders, deliveries, installation, start-up of equipment, equipment demonstrations and training.
2001 – Max launched his Foodservice Design Firm, working with an assortment of projects including consulting for Ovations Food Services. Ovations growth was speedy and the need fueling rapid expansion for Max’s services which turned into the position Vice President of Facilities Design for Ovations. As more project were delivered Max’s design staff expended to four employees. As a team they focused on moving the style of design to our venues to a fresh food delivery of all food and beverage products. Ovation’s (and Max’s layout’s) became immediately copied by competitors. Ovations Clients appreciate the growth of profits from food sales brought about by Max’s thoughtful designs, attention to details, and the dedication to always come in under budget.
2004 – Max began working with Ovations Senior Vice President Mark W. Healey on expanding Ovations expanding resort and casino hospitality business. Together they have worked on dozens of projects from renovations and refreshing locations to multi-million dollar greenfield projects.
2014 – Max retired from Ovations Food Services to enjoy personal time as well as consult on interesting projects including design and development with Virtual Hospitality Group.
Darleen Ghirardi – Procurement & Supply Chain
Virtual Hospitality Group, LLC
Darleen Ghirardi has over twenty-five years in the hospitality industry. Darleen brings to VHG an unwavering commitment to building relationships, driving profits, and ensuring exceptional business results. Darleen’s method begins with a fact-finding mission, creating a holistic portrait of the needs of both the client and their customers. Armed with this information, she leverages buying power to benefit the client, creating new savings and increasing overall profitability. As Darleen likes to say, “At VHG, we each have the opportunity to make a difference—we all contribute to the success of our clients.” A native of Las Vegas, Nevada, Darleen’s years of experience in purchasing, strategic sourcing, contracts and procurement negotiations on behalf of leading gaming and resort venues has provided a wealth of industry and supplier experience. As a result, she is fluent in the business processes of all of VHG’s clients and supports VHG’s ability to provide optimum price value profiles for our clients across our market segments. Darleen’s career to date efforts have resulted in over $1B in Company and Client savings. Darleen’s expertise extends beyond the bottom line to the front line and she uses her own success as a tool to help others. A Certified Executive Coach and Master Life Coach, Darleen is keen to give back through training and mentoring emerging leaders.
Juan E. Zayas – IT and Web Guru
Mr. Juan E. Zayas takes care of all VHG’s website, IT, and software programming. Currently he is pursuing his degree in Computer Engineering full time at Florida Atlantic University in Boca Raton, FL. Juan keeps the Company current on social media and software trends and maintains our web presence and LMS platform. (LITMOS).
Business Channel Partners
Accounting, Business and Financial Services
Michael V. Berardi – CEO, Owner
Berardi & Associates, LLC
Berardi & Associates LLC is a full-service Tax Planning and Preparation and Business financial Services firm based in Norwood Massachusetts. The Berardi & Associates team provide all the accounting, payroll, banking, and financial service for VHG. Michael serves on the VHG advisory board and (on an as needed basis) with the VHG special events team, including 10 years at WE Fest, the largest country music festival in the United States. Michael also serves as a financial representative for Bay Financial Associates of Waltham MA. Bay Financial Associates is licensed to provide financial services through LPL Financial. Michael began his accounting career as an auditor With Honeywell after graduating in Accounting from University of Massachusetts, North Dartmouth. For more information about Berardi & Associates visit mvbtaxes.com.
Marketing & Public Relations
Kristen Thompson – President & Chief Marketer
Thompson Marketing Partners, LLC
Thompson Marketing Partners provides a full range of marketing services to clients in the hospitality industry, including working closely with VHG. Kristen has spent the vast majority of her 16-year marketing career in the foodservice/hospitality industry. She began her foodservice career with Spectra Food Services and Hospitality, where she spent 11 years marketing catering and concession services at large public assembly venues throughout North America. Kristen led the food service marketing for Spectra’s more than 140 client venues including convention centers, arenas, stadiums, festivals, fairgrounds, zoos, museums and casinos.
In 2016 Kristen further honed her consumer marketing skills by joining a national restaurant group as Vice President of Marketing. In this role, Kristen was responsible for branding, programming/content development, digital marketing, eCommerce, social media and loyalty for the restaurant group’s 25 locations, encompassing 5 different concepts. Concepts range from fine dining to fast casual.
Today, Kristen works with clients in the hospitality industry to provide food & beverage marketing services. She creates and implements marketing strategies that help to achieve their business goals. This includes development of the overall marketing strategy, process development, execution and results analysis. Her specialties encompass website development, search engine optimization (SEO), social media, email marketing, online reputation management, content creation, marketing collateral development, design/branding and proposal development.
Kristen earned her Bachelor’s Degree in Marketing from Florida State University and resides in St. Petersburg Florida with her husband, Scott, and two rescue dogs. To learn more about Thompson Marketing Partners, visit thompsonmarketingpartners.com.
Strategic Development Worldwide
Don Zillioux, Ph.D – CEO and Chief Scientist
Strategic Development Worldwide (SDW)
For over 30 years, Strategic Development Worldwide (SDW Companies) has workedwith a variety of businesses, schools, Native American Tribal organizations and nonprofit groups to help them become more effective, more focused and more successful. VHG is proud to collaborate with SDW to provide these services to its clients.
SDW works with clients, large and small, to promote organizational excellence, and improve efficiency at all levels. The company has expertise in management science and advocates for the potential of every person in an organization. They provide solutions with a focused, proven approach, built around clients’ needs.
Each of their solution groups supports the others with specific competencies, profound experience, proven assessments and training designed to work together. Organizational intervention strategies, assessments, analytics and workshops are interwoven to complement and strengthen clients’ organizations. Find out more at sdwnet.com.
Casino Marketing and Training Specialist
Todd Strusz – Owner & CEO
ROI Solutions, Inc.
Todd is recognized as an industry leader and as one of the most innovative thinkers in the casino marketing world. As a former Vice President of Marketing with Grand Casino Hinckley and Mille Lacs, and former Director of Marketing at Treasure Island and Lake of the Torches casinos, Todd has more than 25 years of experience in gaming. Todd’s results-oriented approach to marketing shapes the company’s reasoned, strategic and data-driven philosophy. An expert in all areas of casino marketing and operations, he specializes in strategic and long-range planning constantly focused on maximizing clients performance. VHG is proud to partner with Todd, and ROI solutions to extend these skills and services to our clients. To learn more about ROI Solutions, visit roisolutionsinc.com.
Full-Service Resort and Hotel Design and Implementation Specialists
Brett Magnan – Chief Strategist and Asset Manager
CherryTree Management, LLC
Brett works with several NW based hotel companies to analyze business plans, proformas and suggest operational efficiency for improved profitability. Successes included several hotel openings, re-brandings as well as creating a new hospitality company with central sales and reservations within a new brand. He is retained by many of these companies as outside asset observations to the owners. VHG is proud to partner with CherryTree Management to bring Brett’s skills and experience to the team.
Brett also works as a Brand Partner with Raving Brands, as an experienced hospitality executive. His unique leadership and managerial skills are particularly relevant to operating high-quality hotels, casino resorts, spas, food and beverage facilities, as well as the challenges associated with new hotel/resort developments. Brett has strong F&B experience in opening and positioning restaurants as well as a strong technology background in hospitality systems. He has construction project management experience and has helped to build seven properties. Brett has strong asset management skills, and is skilled at building relationships.