Human Resources Expert Brian McDonough Joins Synergy Restaurant Consultants

Jun 17, 2014

Synergy Restaurant Consultants is pleased to announce that hospitality expert Brian McDonough has joined the firm’s Human Resources team. “I learned early on that Synergy’s basic premise is to provide industry expertise to those who wish to make their business better, more efficient and more profitable regardless of the company size, location or concept,” says Brian. “I am very excited for the opportunity to provide proficiency on compliance and human resource issues to accomplish this same goal.”

With over 24 years experience in hospitality human relations, Brian specializes in assisting restaurants with human resource management and has worked for both independent operations and major chains in every U.S. state, Mexico, and Canada. Brian has worked extensively with restaurateurs, operators and franchisees teaching his best practices in talent acquisition, continuing education, compliance, policies and training.

From an operations and risk mitigation standpoint, Brian has successfully defended charges that include Wage & Hour related cases in multiple states with the EEOC, the Department of Labor and Civility, safety related issues with OSHA, Worker’s Compensation cases, guest injuries, public relations matters including the NLRB, immigration difficulties and crisis management related concerns.

Brian’s keen business acumen was developed through his studies in UCLA and Cal Poly Pomona’s business programs. He achieved his Pre-Law Certificate and Human Resources Certificate from UC Irvine and an M.A. in Organizational Leadership from Chapman University.







Synergy Restaurant Consultants Opens Que Pasa Mexican Kitchen & Tequila Bar

Aug 06, 2013

Synergy Restaurant Consultants is proud to announce the opening of Que Pasa Mexican Kitchen & Tequila Bar in Rapid City, South Dakota.

Synergy, commissioned by local restaurateur Bob Fuchs, was tasked with the challenge of bringing Mexican food to Rapid City. This vision came to life with the grand opening of Que Pasa, a Mexican kitchen offering a friendly dining experience, breathtaking décor, and delicious cuisine. Committed to serving fresh food using exceptional ingredients, over 90% of Que Pasa’s menu is made from scratch. Classic Mexican dishes such as fajitas and enchiladas are elevated with handmade tortillas. Salads, and other traditional American foods infused with a bit of Mexican flavor round out the menu. Que Pasa has over 52 varieties of tequila available for use in its handcrafted signature cocktails. A tequila bottle chandelier is the focal point in a quirky, custom-designed and playful atmosphere unlike anything else in Rapid City. “It’s a truly gorgeous space,” says owner Bob Fuchs.

Starting with a discovery tour and initial restaurant conceptualization in late 2012, Synergy Restaurant Consultants has been involved in every step of the creation of Que Pasa. Leveraging the consulting team’s comprehensive expert knowledge, Synergy designed Que Pasa’s custom kitchen and interior, conducted restaurant financial feasibility studies, streamlined operations, and developed the impressive food and beverage menus. Two years of work culminated with Synergy’s pre-opening team spending 3 weeks in Rapid City to train the new Que Pasa staff and assist with the grand opening.

With an outstanding menu and prime location just off of Rapid City’s Main Street Square, Que Pasa is a much anticipated asset to the local community. “The truth is, Que Pasa is going to be that magnet that will draw people to the downtown area. It will make Rapid City a destination, ” said Dean Small, Founder & Managing Partner of Synergy.

Rapid City, population 67,956, is the second largest city in South Dakota. The area, known as the Black Hills, is a popular tourist destination and home of national landmark Mt. Rushmore.



Synergy Team Plays Key Role in D.C.’s First Fast Casual Thai Concept

Jul 16, 2013

“Tom Yum District, the capitol’s first fast casual Thai restaurant opened recently in the D.C. area to great success,” according to Danny Bendas, Partner and Co-Founder of Synergy Restaurant Consultants. “And we were really excited to be part of the concept development team, since the owners already own two other full service Thai restaurants in the D.C. area.”

The dynamic couple behind Tom Yum District, T.H.A.I. and Bangkok Joe’s, realized that there was a significant opportunity in the fast casual arena for busy diners who crave the flavors of Thailand. Chef Aulie Bunyarataphan and her husband/partner, restaurateur Mel Oursinsiri have been serving delicious authentic and fresh Thai cuisine in their other restaurants for years, but they had a desire to make it more accessible on a multitude of levels. It was then they decided to retain the seasoned professionals of Synergy. What emerged was a delicious yet efficient menu of rice bowls (white or brown) and noodle bowls that guests could customize with their choice of meats and toppings.

“We knew that Aulie and Mel wanted to create a QSR that could easily be replicated into a compelling chain and they appreciated our extensive experience with major national chains and wanted to put it to work for them. Our team’s cumulative expertise assisted in helping them develop this new brand which entailed the menu creation and restaurant design, customizing and implementing appropriate systems including training materials and POS methodologies,” Bendas continued. “We also provided meaningful guidance in management recruitment and oversight to assure that this first location would position the brand strongly, setting the stage for the rollout,” he concluded.

Tom Yum District is located in Arlington, Virginia, and provides seating for 48 guests.


Synergy Hired To Optimize Culiacan-Based Chain Operations

May 07, 2013

When Cantonese/Mexican fusion chain Tai-Pak decided to revamp their operations, they contacted a firm with impressive multi-unit credentials, Synergy Restaurant Consultants. “We were delighted that Jaime Alejandro Pun Fok reached out to us for this assignment because Synergy is uniquely qualified to deliver the kinds of results they were seeking,” stated Danny Bendas, Co-Founder and Partner.

SRC’s assignment addressed most aspects of Tai-Pak’s business model from its purchasing practices, to kitchen efficiencies, from the guest experience to staff uniforms all the way through taste-testing menu items. Additionally, a brand positioning session directed by Warren Ellish, a Synergy associate and attended by Tai-Pak’s executive team will inform the future development of the brand.

The Synergy team further identified and developed marketing programs to create additional brand recognition and increased sales as a result of their comprehensive analysis.

Synergy Restaurant Consultants is a 20-year old firm specializing in the creation, assessment and improvement of multi-unit food service providers, both consumer-driven and commissary-centric.


Pizza Expert Tim Green will Join Synergy Restaurant Consultants

May 01, 2013

Synergy Restaurant Consultants is pleased to announce that expert pizza consultant Tim Green will join the firm as Resident Pizza Expert. “Joining a restaurant consulting group boasting 25 years of experience is fantastic,” says Tim.

“We have known Tim for over 15 years and he is one of the foremost knowledgeable people in the industry when it comes to pizza,” remarked Dean Small, Synergy Founder and Managing Partner of the international food consultancy. “We could not be happier to welcome Tim Green to the Synergy team.”

Tim has been extensively involved in the art of Stone Hearth Cooking, specifically for pizza, since 2001. His focus has been different styles of pizza, from traditional Neapolitan to the classic American style. He is well versed in all things pizza, from the dough to the fuel. Due to the differences in cooking on a stone hearth oven using wood, gas, coal, or a combination has the pizza, Tim has been brought in by pizza restaurateurs looking to better understand their pizza.

Tim has worked with hundreds of pizza concepts, from QSR and institutions to corporate cafeterias, VPN Certified Pizza, full service dining, casual pizzerias, and fine dining restaurants. His primary areas of work have been dough development, production, and the managing of dough. At the centerpiece of this work is oven operations: the understanding of oven technicalities and temperature management is critical in ensuring a consistent product. Tim believes that the key to a successful pizza operation is the continued training and development of staff to understand all aspects of building a great pizza.

Tim’s experience stems from 25 years in the hospitality industry working in various resort hotels around the country. He is a 1981 graduate of Johnson & Wales College (Providence, RI) with an Associate Degree in Hospitality.

Synergy Restaurant Consultants is a culinary-driven, excellence-obsessed and operations-focused consulting group with a comprehensive knowledge of all disciplines in food and beverage service.


Abu-Ghazaleh Celebrates Synergy Anniversary With Promotion

Apr 23, 2013

Salma Abu-Ghazaleh recently celebrated two years with Synergy Restaurant Consultants and has significantly expanded the company’s presence in the Middle East.


For the last two years, Salma Abu-Ghazaleh has dedicated her exceptional networking skills to Middle East business development for Synergy Restaurant Consultants, one of the nation’s most respected culinary firms. Recognizing her enormous contributions to the organization, partners Dean Small and Danny Bendas decided to expand her role.

“Salma has been invaluable in getting Synergy’s Client Services in order,” commented Small. “As she pursued new opportunities for us in the Middle East, she developed some significant methodologies that have streamlined our proposals and operations and her templates have now been adopted company-wide.” Abu-Ghazaleh’s strategies were so effective that she increased SRC’s Middle East client base by 250% in 6 brief months. She also impacted the firm’s web presence by implementing an Arabic language feature.

More recently, Abu-Ghazaleh has participated in actual concept and menu development, interfacing with clients on an ongoing basis. “We realized how strong Salma’s “people skills” were and felt that she was being underutilized. Her educational c.v. is impressive. Amherst. American University of Beirut. Executive courses from Harvard.    What is more impressive is how she has totally integrated what she learned with how she works,” added Bendas. Now Abu-Ghazaleh has added “Project Management” as her newest appellation and recognition. “Salma has a great future with Synergy because she has an incredible ability to grow her skillset with our company’s rapid growth,” Small concluded.

Synergy Restaurant Consultants is a culinary-driven, excellence-obsessed and operations-focused consulting group with a comprehensive knowledge of all disciplines in food and beverage service.


Amenity Construction Begins at New Apollo Beach Community

Jul 12, 2012

Synergy Restaurant Consultants to Create Top-Tier Café in Waterset Community

Apollo Beach, FL (PRWEB) July 11, 2012

Newland Communities has broken ground on the café and information center at Waterset, the developer’s newest community in Apollo Beach. To ensure a first-class experience, Newland Communities will collaborate with the renowned Synergy Restaurant Consultantson the café. These amenities are expected to be a central gateway for introducing potential buyers to Waterset.


“Waterset residents will enjoy an active lifestyle and this café will be the perfect refuel station for the entire community and the surrounding area,” said Pam Parisi, marketing director for Newland Communities. “Synergy Restaurant Consultants is already helping to bring our vision of this café to life.”


After working with other widely-known brands such as Caribou Coffee, Romano’s Macaroni Grill, California Pizza Kitchen and Chipotle, Synergy Restaurant Consultants brings worldwide expertise to this project. The café will include an assortment of coffees, teas, and smoothies, as well as beer and wine and a carefully chosen menu. The Waterset Café will also offer all of the essentials for momentary escapes, like TVs, Wi-Fi, and iPad stations.


“We are proud to partner with Newland Communities on this new café,” said Dean Small, founder and managing partner of Synergy. “We see this space as an entry-way for potential homebuyers, a frequented get-away for residents and a destination for surrounding community members.”


The café and information center are part of Waterset’s phase one amenities, which also include a 12’-wide Greenway and community trails, waterways, a community pool with lap lanes and a splash pad, fitness center, a shade pavilion and pier overlooking the lake, playgrounds, neighborhood parks, and a dog park., The Waterset Montessori School will also open on-site this winter. Phase one is expected to open in Fall2012. New homes here will start at $170,000.


About Waterset


The residential community of Waterset is located 15 miles south of Tampa in Apollo Beach, Fla. Developed by Newland Communities, Waterset will have approximately 3,000 homes. Encompassing more than 1,300 acres, Waterset is planned to include a 6-mile long greenway and trailhead, on-site schools, recreation center, pool, neighborhood parks, lake, dog park, and miles of walking trails. Newland has partnered with some of the areas best-known builders to offer homes in a variety of price ranges and styles. For more information, visit


About Newland Communities


Newland Communities is the largest private developer of planned residential and urban mixed-use communities in the United States. With over 40 years of experience, Newland and its affiliates have completed or have underway more than 140 diverse real estate developments, over 20 million square feet of commercial and retail space and 175,000 residential units in 14 states. Headquartered in San Diego, California, Newland is currently developing four master-planned new-home communities in Hillsborough County, Florida: FishHawk Ranch, MiraBay and Waterset. For more information, visit


Synergy Restaurant Consultants


Founded in 1988, Synergy Restaurant Consultants is the leading and nationally recognized restaurant consulting group dedicated to helping foodservice operators and manufacturers improve their financial performance while elevating the guest dining experience. Synergy Restaurant Consultants provides an integrated approach to developing and implementing proven restaurant solutions across a broad range of capabilities, including operations and cost analysis, concept design, food & beverage design and testing, brand positioning, architecture and interior design, human capital, and insurance/risk management. For more information, please visit


Synergy Selected by Leading Indonesia Seafood Dining Chain

May 29, 2012

D’Cost Seafood Restaurants, Indonesia’s market leader in the highly competitive seafood arena, has chosen Synergy Restaurant Consultants to generate new operating strategies that will keep the chain at the vanguard of its industry in Indonesia.


“We are honored to be working with D’Cost whose mission is at once to serve price sensitive hungry people who like to eat freshly prepared seafood. D’Cost provides 5 star quality guest experiences at STREET HAWKER prices. Currently, D’Cost, at its 54 locations, provides a delicious experience to 80% of the middle to lower-middle class diners in the entire country. They have developed a reputation for a highly original, ‘against the grain’ marketing programs that most food executives wouldn’t even consider,” commented Dean Small, Co-Founder and Managing Partner of the worldwide consulting collaborative.


The courageous marketing initiative that the D’Cost executives pioneered is known as “Up to You” wherein customers pay what they can afford for their meal. “The loyalty and trust their brand inspires is almost unprecedented in restaurant chains. They have successfully and ‘in a huge way’ married quality and caring as their dual offering to their customers. Synergy is being engaged on a number of initiatives,” continued Small. Currently, Synergy is working on streamlining D’Cost’s kitchen operations as well as creating strategies to improve operating efficiencies and put the chain on a fast-track growth mode. Moving forward, Synergy will be working with D’Cost Seafood management team to create two additional brands to support the growing Indonesian market.


D’Cost Seafood started operations just 6 brief years ago in South Jakarta and has now expanded in eight major cities throughout Indonesia. Synergy is the nationally recognized multi-disciplinary leader in food consultancies and is headquartered in Orange County, California. For more information, or call Dean Small at (949) 500-1733.


Dean Small’s Top Ten “Trends with Benefits”

Apr 19, 2012

Dean SmallDean Small, founding partner of the Synergy Restaurant Consultants, will share his Top Ten “Trends with Benefits” in a lively keynote address to the Northwest Foodservice Show on Sunday, April 29, 2012.

Small, founding partner of Synergy Restaurant Consultants, has been in hundreds of kitchens and dozens of boardrooms working with over 200 nationally-known companies. Says Small, “I’ve traveled over 12 million air miles and I eat at over 400 restaurants a year, so I’ve had a chance to see the latest trends up close and see how great brands capitalize on the latest trends in a way that truly benefits their businesses.”

Small has observed multi-faceted influences shaping today’s trends. Food and restaurant-related TV shows have made everybody more food-savvy. The emerging influence of Generation Y, the Millennials, is driving new dining concepts built around a fusion of cuisines, service styles and themes. The pace of life has made convenience “King,” and the Green Movement is changing how people think about food. From sustainability and local sourcing to food trucks, temporary “pop-up” restaurants and kiosks to the rise of breakfast and the fourth meal, to smaller portions for smaller prices, demand for artisan and culinary influences and a fusion of cuisines, restaurateurs are challenged to figure out not only what’s “right now” but more importantly, what’s “right for them.”

Small’s food-focused, operations-obsessed approach will inspire forward thinking brands with his passion and knowhow in translating trends into brand strategies that connect with their customers. Dean’s practical speech is a must see addition to the Northwest Food Show program.

Synergy Restaurant Consultants is a team of restaurant management professionals, in business for over 25 years, that bring innovative ideas to the table to create sustainable brands and drive bottom line performance. The cornerstone of the Synergy team is innovation and efficiencies for the foodservice industry, and Synergy, with offices in California, Texas, Ohio, Florida, Washington D.C., Louisiana, Pennsylvania and New York, is known for innovation strategies ranging from concept development, food and beverage strategies, menu, restaurant design, marketing, training and hospitality initiatives.

Dean Small, Phone : (888) 861-9212 or E-mail: dean(at)synergyconsultants(dot)com


QubicaAMF and Synergy Restaurant Consultants Form Alliance to Extend Bar and Restaurant Services to the Bowling and Entertainment Industry

Mar 15, 2012


QubicaAMF Worldwide, the market leader in the bowling and entertainment industry, and Synergy Restaurant Consultants, a nationally recognized restaurant consulting company, are proud to announce a newly formed alliance. The alliance between the two companies will enable new bowling and entertainment investors to benefit from food and beverage start-up services to create facilities where restaurants and bars are well integrated with the entertainment offering, enhancing the guest experience and gross revenues.

As part of the agreement, Synergy Restaurant Consultants will offer, exclusively to QubicaAMF clients, a package of start-up services intended for two specific types of bar and restaurant operations: fast casual and casual dining, which are the most relevant for entertainment centers today.

“In recent years we’ve seen a trend of the convergence between dining and entertainment, which is reflected by the increased number of Boutique Bowling and Hybrid Entertainment Centers that have been leading the new center development in US,” says Riccardo Cuppi, New Center Product and Segment Manager for QubicaAMF Worldwide.

Wendy Smith, New Business Development Manager at QubicaAMF Worldwide adds, “While it’s true that most new centers are incorporating a significant portion of their investment in food and beverage offerings, many times these operations don’t perform as well as planned. These tailored packages, along with Synergy’s expertise in this area, will provide investors a turnkey solution when it comes to effectively including bar or restaurant offerings into the mix.”

“Restaurants are our core business, we have helped so many independent operators and restaurant chains over the last 25 years to reach a position of competitive advantage that we are now really excited to support bowling and entertainment investors with their food and beverage strategies,” says Danny Bendas, Managing Partner at Synergy Restaurant Consultants. “We understand the importance of combining food with bowling and entertainment to provide guests with a unique experience, and are excited about this alliance and long term partnership with QubicaAMF.”

The two companies, serving two different complementary industries, have one common purpose, to make investors and operators successful in their business by offering products and services that drive results in terms of efficiency, innovation, guest experience, repeat visits and ultimately revenues and return on investment.

“We understand the importance of food and beverage in new bowling and entertainment centers, which can account for more than 50% of total facility revenue. Partnering with market experts for services that are outside of our core business, such as food and beverage, is a win-win. The knowledge and experience this alliance will bring to our clients will be unparalleled,” states Jay Buhl, Senior Vice President of Sales for The Americas for QubicaAMF Worldwide.

About QubicaAMF Worldwide

QubicaAMF Worldwide is the leading manufacturer and marketer of bowling and amusement products. With worldwide headquarters near Richmond, Virginia and European headquarters in Bologna, Italy, the company offers a complete line of high-quality, innovative solutions for new and existing bowling and entertainment centers.

QubicaAMF has over 50 years of experience and an install base of more than 10,000 centers, which includes AMF Bowling, the world’s largest owner and operator network of bowling centers. The company has sales offices in 15 countries, a distributor network with worldwide reach and maintains the largest R&D team for software, electronics and entertainment systems in the industry. Additional information about QubicaAMF Worldwide is available at