A&G taps Jeffrey Hoffmann to lead restaurant real estate division

Jeffrey K. Hoffmann, a veteran banking executive who has provided strategic advice and capital solutions to operators of some of the biggest restaurant brands in North America, has joined A&G Real Estate Partners as a senior managing director and head of the firm’s restaurant division.

“Jeff is a trusted strategic partner with broad experience and extensive relationships in the restaurant business,” said Andy Graiser, co-president of Melville, N.Y.-headquartered A&G. “He brings strong leadership to our deep bench of experts in this industry. We are very excited to welcome Jeff to the team at A&G.”

Over the past 26 years, Hoffmann, who will be based in the firm’s Chicago office, has advised and financed hundreds of restaurant operators of all types and sizes. Those names include Dave & Buster’s, Ruth’s Chris Steak House, Taco Bell, Wendy’s, Burger King, Jack In the Box, Pizza Hut, Popeyes, Denny’s, Buffalo Wild Wings, TGI Fridays and Applebee’s, to name a few. Hoffmann has also worked extensively with many regional operators in his career.

Hoffmann joins A&G at a time when the firm’s restaurant division, which provides real estate solutions to restaurants across North America, is growing rapidly. His role will include assisting A&G’s clients with store-optimization plans and occupancy-cost reductions.

“Jeff’s in-depth knowledge of the restaurant business, combined with his extraordinary financial acumen, gives him a unique perspective that will be enormously useful to our restaurant clients,” Graiser said. “The industry is changing quite dramatically, and our team is evolving to meet that demand.”

Hoffmann comes to A&G after serving as vice president of the franchise finance group at CIT Bank in Chicago. He previously co-founded and led the restaurant, franchise and beverage corporate banking group at Fifth Third Bank, also in Chicago, to become a premier banking partner.

While there are still tremendous opportunities in the restaurant business, Hoffmann noted, many operators are feeling squeezed by mounting pressures in the marketplace. “The list includes mandatory minimum wage laws, higher commodity costs, larger-scale remodeling requirements, increased competition and growing fears of a downturn,” he said. “To stay ahead of the curve, companies need responsive strategies. Smarter cash-management is essential, and real estate is a huge component of that.”

In his past positions, Hoffmann frequently conducted comprehensive business reviews of restaurant borrowers and worked with large convenience-store operators as well. Hoffmann’s early professional career began in equipment leasing. Then in 1993 he was introduced to restaurant and franchise lending with the acceptance of a vice president role with a division of Sanwa Business Credit Corp. in Chicago. Subsequently, he held vice president roles and was instrumental in building the restaurant business with Peachtree Franchise Finance and Merrill Lynch Capital, both in Chicago. As a managing director with Green Oaks Capital, Hoffmann provided capital solutions to middle-market companies in the franchise, restaurant and c-store sectors. At PNC Bank, he held the position of vice president, term lead credit products. While in this role, he provided strategic insight, guidance and counsel to bank customers and was the bank’s restaurant industry expert.

“Jeff knows from direct experience that the upfront strategy is the foundation of any effort to optimize real estate,” said Emilio Amendola, co-president of A&G. “He has a strong reputation for integrity and an impressive track record of demonstrated results. For A&G, this move is perfectly in keeping with our philosophy of hiring the best of the best.”