CHARLESTON, SC—The Indigo Road Hospitality Group (IRHG) has expanded its senior leadership team to accommodate its growing family of award-winning restaurants and F&B-driven boutique hotels in the Southeast region of the U.S. and elsewhere.
“Our team continues to grow as our portfolio expands,” said Larry Spelts, president of Lodging & Lifestyle Adventures at Indigo Road. “Despite the labor challenges our industry is facing, we’ve been fortunate enough to attract and develop top-quality talent. In a climate where leaders have endless options, these recent additions and promotions to our senior leadership team speaks volumes about our mission, culture, and leadership.”
Jennifer Krapp returns as director of restaurant operations. Krapp began her career in the restaurant business as a host at the age of 17. After gaining floor experience, she spent the next seven years of her career with California Pizza Kitchen, where she traveled and opened stores for the national company. For the next nine years, she honed her skills at the acclaimed Atlanta-based restaurant Canoe. After Canoe, she stepped away from the world of corporate restaurants and started her own restaurant consulting company, where she helped open many restaurants. For the past nine years, she has also helped manage hospitality events during the prestigious Master’s Golf Tournament, including managing the Mercedes Benz hospitality compound during Master’s week. Returning to IRHG, Krapp will lead facets of front-of-house operations, working closely with IRHG founder and Chief Vision Officer Steve Palmer.
Justin Shoener appointed as director of restaurant financial operations. Like Indigo Road founder, Steve Palmer, Shoener’s hospitality career began as a dishwasher and touched upon all integral roles within the restaurant, from server to general manager, allowing him an expansive understanding of the granular specifics of the operations. Previously a general manager for the Charlotte locations of IRHG restaurants O-Ku and Oak Steakhouse, Shoener moved to the Carolinas from Orlando, FL to join the Indigo Road team. Prior to that, he spent 11 years as the director of operations for a restaurant group in Orlando. During this time with the group, he opened several restaurants and oversaw a variety of concepts. As a senior leader responsible for financial operations, Shoener works with restaurants on the back-end financials regarding cost of goods, P&L reviews, and efficient reporting. It’s not all about the numbers for him, however, as he thrives on mentoring employees to develop and grow in their hospitality careers as he experienced firsthand.
Scott Neslage excels to director of lodging operations. Neslage’s hospitality career dates back to 2005 when he started as a barista at Starbucks. With more than 15 years of operations and revenue management experience, he applies strengths of teamwork, strategic thinking and data analysis to drive asset profitability. He has held numerous positions with Charlestowne Hotels, Wyndham Vacation Rentals, and at several properties in the Southeast. From 2014 to 2018, he served as vice president of the HSMAI South Carolina chapter and is highly active within the local hospitality community. His favorite way to serve his industry is by teaching as an adjunct professor of hospitality at The College of Charleston. With the change in title, Neslage will also support properties in an operational capacity, focusing beyond revenue. IRHG is seeking a candidate for Neslage’s previous revenue management position.
Kala Ellis transitioned to beverage director of Oak Steakhouse Nashville and IRHG. Originally from Arizona, Ellis spent most of her adolescence in Tennessee before attending Lee University, where she studied to become a teacher. During her college years, she worked various front and back-of-house hospitality roles before eventually settling into her role as a bartender. As she went on to become a teacher for six years, she still bartended in her spare time. Eventually, Ellis embraced her passion for the beverage industry and entered it full time, utilizing her teaching skillset to train and lead her team. She ran the bar program at Gray’s on Main before opening O’ Be Joyful in TK year. During this time, she also expanded on her industry knowledge by attending various mixology and spirit programs, including A Bar Above. After, Ellis joined the IRHG team, serving as the beverage manager for its Nashville concepts, Oak Steakhouse Nashville and O-Ku. She now oversees all beverage operations for the hospitality group. In this role, she enjoys cultivating a team that works collaboratively to produce creative and flawlessly executed cocktails.
Trevor Stough transitioned to Charleston area wine director. Stough began his career in the F&B industry as a high school student in need of a part-time job. Later, during his time studying historic preservation at the College of Charleston, he continued to hold part-time positions in the restaurant industry and his passion for food and service truly began to blossom. He has more than 12 years in hospitality, having held positions from server assistant to maitre d’ and everything in between. Stough is making the move to the beverage team working with wine director Vonda Freeman following a successful tenure at Indaco Charleston as general manager. Now the Charleston-based area wine director, he assists in maintaining and overseeing the wine programs in the market. In his role, Stough will educate and train on a weekly and monthly basis to keep staff engaged and interested while constructing training materials for the continued development of Indigo Road teams.
Gabriel Perez hired on as a general manager for the Lodging & Lifestyle Adventures division. With more than three decades of hospitality experience, Perez has been the general manager of many properties throughout the country for some of the top hospitality brands, including IHG Hotels & Resorts, Wyndham Hotels & Resorts, Hyatt Hotels, and Extended Stay America. He also served in many leadership roles for several well-known hotel management companies, such as Highgate, Real Hospitality Group, and TPG Hotels & Resorts. In his new role with IRHG, Perez will oversee The Alexander All Suite Oceanfront Resort in Miami Beach, FL.
“Without our incredibly talented and dedicated team, we would not have made it through the pandemic thus far,” Palmer said. “We are thrilled to welcome these new leaders to our team and celebrate the growth of our current team members. We look forward to adding even more senior leaders to our team in the new year.”