Major Food Group co-founders Jeff Zalaznick, Mario Carbone and Rich Torrisi are going on a shopping spree. As for what they’re looking to acquire? Top-tier restaurants.
Major Food Group has partnered with Altamarea Group founder Ahmass Fakahany to expand Marea, New York’s dominant Italian seafood restaurant, worldwide.
“It’s the beginning of an exciting new chapter in our company, where we’ll be buying brands that we love,” Zalaznick tells Observer. “Marea is the first of many incredible legacy brands that we’ll bring into the Major Food Group portfolio. We’re looking for excellence in the luxury field.”
“Miami would be a logical first step for us, and we’re definitely looking at that,” Zalaznick says. “But you never know with us. We’re identifying locations based on places we put our own restaurants. We think it’s a perfect fit within our portfolio.”
Born in New York, Major Food Group already has more than 50 restaurants around the world. Mario Carbone’s eponymous and unrivaled Carbone, for example, is open in New York, Las Vegas, Miami, Dallas, Hong Kong, Doha and Riyadh.
The goal for Major Food Group is expanding Marea, not revamping it.
“Marea is a distinct thing,” Zalaznick says. “The brand will stay intact. What we’re going to do with Marea and other great brands is not change them, but celebrate them. Marea has been a part of my life, and Rich and Mario’s lives, since it opened. It was an inspiration to us when it opened and has continued to be one of the few restaurants in New York that we all go to and we all think is a fantastic restaurant.”
There’s no reason to change something Major Food Group loves. So there’s not going to be spicy rigatoni, veal parm or a tuxedoed captain making Caesar salads tableside at Marea. Marea guests will continue to enjoy langoustine crudo, truffle-topped risotto and the restaurant’s beloved fusilli with octopus and bone marrow. Marea’s born-in-2009 Central Park South flagship and the Marea that is opening soon in Beverly Hills are not part of this partnership with Major Food Group, which is focused on future outposts.
“The idea is to continue to create the magic that exists in New York and bring it to other cities,” Zalaznick says. “It’s no different than what we’ve done with our own restaurants. It’s part of the family.”
Zalaznick sees the next-level expansion of restaurants like Marea as a new vertical for Major Food Group. Zalaznick, Carbone and Torrisi, who recently debuted the world’s first private Carbone at the new ZZ’s Club in Hudson Yards, will continue to create their own in-house concepts as well.
“This is not slowing down any development on the Major Food Group side of things,” Zalaznick says. “We’ll continue to do what we do.”