Jorge Guzman was born in the Dominican Republic and grew up in and around his father's hotel, restaurant and discotheque businesses. He started small, working the ice cream cart at the age of ten. Pursuing his artistic talents, he attended the Altos de Chavon School of Design. He then spent some time in producing and promoting music concerts. Jorge soon found that he had inherited his father’s true passion for the hospitality industry, which led Jorge to make a move to New York City to gain experience with the finest restaurateurs in the world.
Jorge took on positions in some of the city’s most prestigious restaurants, including Le Cirque, Annisa and One If
By Land, working with industry leaders Danny Meyer, David Friedman and Simon Oren. As he worked, his responsibility grew into leadership roles. During this time Jorge obtained certification from the International Wine Center, and completed the New School’s Restaurant Management course; he realized he wanted to own his own restaurant.
In December 2009, at the age of 26, Jorge Guzman seized an opportunity to partner with respected chef Luis Mota to found Ofrenda Cocina Mexicana, in New York’s West Village. True to the meaning of the word Ofrenda, Jorge led the team, now including Executive Chef Mario Hernandez, to offer his adopted city of New York authentic, home-cooked, traditional Mexican food, paired with fine wines and his own expertly crafted cocktails.
He, Cliff and Chef Mario operate The Black Ant, which opened in the East Village in May 2014. Here, the menu is Contemporary Mexican, with a component of ants, chapulines and other insect ingredients, bringing the international culinary commonplace to New York’s diners. Some of Guzman’s cocktails incorporate insects in ant salt rims, for example—not as a novelty, but as a truly serious culinary element.
2016 saw J.G. Hospitality expanding boldly, with Temerario in the Chelsea neighborhood, with Chef Mario serving Mexican-style street food, and specialty cocktails. Next door to Temerario, in January 2017, he opened Lamano, a Spanish wine bar serving a small tapas menu. In May 2018, Lamano West Village opened on a quaint tree-lined street serving the same great food as its flagship.
In addition, Guzman will launch Boutique hotels, a Night Club and Restaurants with locations in Dominican Republic and Mexico, in 2019. With these projects and more to come in NY and LA, Jorge Guzman Hospitality Group will become one of New York’s leading entrepreneurial representatives for the cause of Latin cuisine and mixology. Jorge Guzman Hospitality brands have been featured on Jimmy Kimmel Live, The New York Times,The Boston Globe, CNN, The Yorker, Wall Street Journal, ABC News, Fox News, Popular Science, Travel Channel, Travel + Leisure, Food and Wine, Michelin Guide and GQ Magazine.
OWNER / PARTNER
Cliff Freid grew up in Riverdale, NY and began working at the age of 11. During his teenage years, he worked in various Catskill Mountain hotels for the summer as waiter, busboy and even as a horse wrangler. After that, he continued with jobs in hospitality, including The Mark Hotel, until he turned 24. It was during those 13 years that he discovered his passion for food and the restaurant business.
Then his life took a slight detour when he decided to change careers and became a Union activist/leader. He graduated Cornell University with a degree in Labor Relations. He found success in his Union career defending thousands of workers which culminated into passing legislature in New Jersey to save 40,000 workers jobs, as well as securing the future UMDNJ, the largest state Medical school, and its University Hospital, the State’s largest trauma hospital.
It was during his years as a labor leader that he discovered Ofrenda restaurant in New York City’s West Village, which immediately became his favorite place to go. Aside from serving incredible food and drinks in a fun atmosphere, the staff made him feel like part of the family. He and owner Jorge Guzman became fast friends, eventually leading to an opportunity for Cliff to become a partial owner in the business. This served as Cliff’s entree back into hospitality world he had so enjoyed.
Experiencing great success with Ofrenda, owners Cliff and Jorge along with Chef Mario Hernandez decided that they would pursue the dream of a second restaurant which was realized in June 2014 when then opened The Black Ant in New York’s East Village. They have again managed to create a successful venture by replicating the formula for Ofrenda in a larger, stylish venue with a more adventurous menu. They are currently in the process of pursuing a third restaurant, anticipated to open in fall 2014 in New York City.
Cliff lives in New York City, near the two restaurants.
THE PEOPLE BEHIND
Alejandro Cuchara & Israel Cantú, founding partners of The People Behind, have been responsible of the development, operation and management of different locations in Mexico and the United States.
They have been working together since 2011, when they took care of the development, positioning, marketing and operation of what is today one of the most emblematic nightclubs in the center of Mexico, Grill Nightclub, in the city of Guanajuato.
Afterwards, each one in his specialty area, Cuchara in communication and concept, Cantú in marketing and operation; along with a group of shareholders of the city, they created one of the most representative bars of that city: La Madera. That is when they decide to join forces and create The People Behind in 2013, when they formalized their work relationship to venture on projects in NY City with their actual business partner, Jorge Guzmán. The have participated actively in the development of six places in NY, among which stands out The Black Ant (2014) and Temerario (2016). In 2015, The People Behind closed a commercial agreement with the most important bar developer group in Mexico, Grupo Impulza. Alongside with them, in 2017 they created a new brand called Panic Botanic, which is a phenomenon because in less than a year they have opened 7 different business units in the most important cities of Mexico.
They have generated their experience in business administration and operation with their strong roots in marketing and communication. Workaholics and restless by nature, they use the culture and art as an inspiration for creativity, considering that innovation and client experience are an essential part in the project development, where each one capture their professional bases but above else, doing everything with passion and dedication. They analyze each important detail on the client experience and when they find it, they seek to take it to the next level.
In the coming weeks they will be premiering a couple of new places, one of them a new development of a nightclub that promises to revolutionize the nightlife of the most exclusive market in center of Mexico.