When Amy Jakubowski joined the Puccini Group in January as its new partner and managing director, she had big plans to help the restaurant-focused design firm expand into the boutique and lifestyle hotel space.
Founded in 1996 by renowned restaurant entrepreneur Bob Puccini, the San Francisco-based company specializes in concepting, designing, and operating leading hotel restaurants for brands such as Marriott, Four Seasons, InterContinental, and Hilton. Recent projects include the four food and beverage concepts at the Four Seasons Orlando, which will open this summer, as well as Trace restaurant at the W Atlanta Midtown.
Growing the hotel side of the business, Jakubowski says, will give the firm’s clients a full-package design option. “People often think about the food and beverage concepts as separate. We have the ability to do that because that’s our core business,” she says. “But as food and beverage rolls into the social spaces of hotels, it’s a natural progression. The lines are getting a little bit blurry around the edges.”
Jackubowski made her move to the Puccini Group after spending 17 years in senior leadership roles at BBG-BBGM, a hospitality design firm in New York that has since been acquired by HOK. The Puccini Group is quickly leveraging Jakubowski’s hotel industry experience to win new hospitality projects in the boutique and lifestyle sectors. The firm has some potential domestic hotel projects in Park City, Utah, and Hawaii, as well as several international opportunities, specifically in the Middle East, Russia, South America, and Europe. Jakubowski says several of her previous clients and connections are also knocking at the firm’s doors.
Part of the Puccini Group’s strategy moving forward is to boost the concept and branding arms of the company. Prior to joining BBG-BBGM, Jakubowski worked for New York-based James D’Auria Associates, where she was instrumental in creating branded showrooms, retail spaces, and corporate offices for fashion enterprises such as Levi Strauss, Guess, and Ellen Tracy. That experience, she says, will help the firm build on its storytelling strategy and develop the arcs that are essential for successful lifestyle hospitality projects.
To help with the overall growth and goals of the Puccini Group, Jakubowski appointed Grace Machado McClurg to the role of design director earlier this year. McClurg, who previously worked as a senior project director at The Gettys Group, will oversee all phases of project delivery and expand the design studio’s overall scope.
Jakubowski believes that the Puccini Group’s history of crafting award-winning hotel restaurant concepts will give the firm a leg up when competing for hospitality design projects. “What we can offer to the hotel market is a different way of looking at things,” she says. “We have a really young and talented group here that is exceptional at telling stories and offering a fresh approach. I feel like we’re coming out of the gate really strong.”