Chris Adams was born in Florida and spent his formative years in the hospitality industry working his way up the Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company. After growing up in the entertainment industry, Adams founded Ellis Adams Group (EAG) as an international hospitality consulting firm. The group focuses on all aspects of businesses, including building brands, concept and design development, training, management, revenue generation, and profit margin increases. Under the EAG umbrella, Adams owns YNK, an ever-changing bar experience tucked inside the Irvine Marriott; 1KEPT Charleston, a dining destination serving a blend of American Cuisine and southern influences alongside craft cocktails; and the highly anticipated cocktail bar Happy Craft forthcoming in Dublin, Ohio. The hospitality firm’s current project list is dynamic and constantly growing, with over 100 active ventures underway around.
DIRECTOR OF STRATEGIC PROGRAMMING
Thaddeus is a burgeoning force in the Southern dining scene, whose creative drive stems from a lifelong immersion in the industry. Born in the South, with a brief stint in Stuttgart, Keefe spent his formative years in Atlanta. Keefe’s passion for exploration led him to live and work across the globe. After returning to the South, Keefe opened Mosaic, a French-Mediterranean bistro in the Atlanta neighborhood Buckhead at just 22 years old. The following year, he became Director of Operations for Nan Fine Thai Dining under the Niyomkul Hospitality Group. From there, he opened several restaurants, including Tuk Tuk Thai Food Loft in the Atlanta market. In 2012, Keefe opened 1KEPT in Atlanta, which has since become a local dining institution serving a blend of New American Cuisine and southern influences alongside craft cocktails.
CORPORATE DIRECTOR OF OPERATIONS
Born in Brevard County, Florida and raised in Central Florida, Patrick King started his career in the music industry fresh out of high school. King’s success stems from his desire for hands-on learning, rather than formal schooling. His first hospitality job sparked his love for the industry and when he moved to Los Angeles, he began a longstanding career with SBE Entertainment.
King has worked on major openings such as Cleo, SLS Hotels, Katsuya, Hyde, and The Redbury Hotels and played a major role in growing each of these brands over his 10 years at SBE. King was then tapped by longtime friend Chris Adams to join the international hospitality consulting agency, Ellis Adams Group. At EAG, King now oversees all operational aspects of the group’s concepts worldwide. From in-venue management to supervising corporate openings, King brings his extensive experience in the hospitality industry to all EAG projects.
As Beverage Director for international hospitality consulting firm Ellis Adams Group, Cassie Hesse spends her time jetting around the world to restaurant and bar clients, establishing cocktail programs and developing operations. Hesse attributes her innate hospitality knowledge to a childhood spent in New Orleans, surrounded by southern hospitality. After getting her start as the Head Bartender at Phillips in New Orleans, Hesse established her career as a part of the opening team at The Cosmopolitan’s Rose. Rabbit. Lie. and SBE’s The Sayer’s Club in Las Vegas. She also served as the Lead Mixologist at the AC Hotel in New Orleans and as a bartender at Compere Lapin in New Orleans. Hesse herself was the winner of the People’s Choice New Orleans at Bombay Sapphire’s Most Imaginative Bartender in 2015 as well as a nominee for the New Orleans Bartender of the Year in 2015.
GORDON KELLEY III
Gordon Kelley III was born in Los Angeles but has most recently found himself in Atlanta as an integral part of the Ellis Adams Group family. Kelley is a hospitality industry veteran, continuously evolving along with his family of nightlife impresarios as owners of Boulevard3. He launched his career with the Gerber Group at SkyBar, followed by an industrious few years opening and operating several nightlife hot spots, including Boulevard3.
In 2012 he moved to New York where he would eventually open the beer garden P13R. Later that year, he was recruited to join the EMM Group, now Catch Hospitality Group, as their Operations Manager. With the birth of their first child, Kelley and his wife moved to Atlanta, where he rejoined Gerber Group as their Director of Marketing & Events. Eventually, Kelley was brought on to Ellis Adams Group to help with the opening of the hospitality firm’s latest restaurant concept, 1KEPT. Kelley joined the team and has been an integral part of EAG ever since, on both the consultant side and 1KEPT operations side.
DIRECTOR OF OPERATIONAL PROCESSES & EFFICIENCIES
Born and raised in Long Beach, California, Maricela Salcido developed her passion for the hotel industry while attending California State University, Long Beach. She earned her Bachelor of Science in Dietic and Food Service Administration with an emphasis in Hospitality Foodservice and Hotel Management while working at a local restaurant. Upon joining the Marriott International team, Salcido held many positions, including training the Food & Beverage teams at numerous hotel locations on brand standards, service, and core job duties, providing her with the foundation for her career. During her role with the Hotel Openings & Transitions team, she met Chris Adams, founder of international hospitality firm Ellis Adams Group (EAG). They worked together to oversee hotel openings across the United States and after assisting in the opening of EAG’s 1KEPT in Charleston, South Carolina, Adams asked Salcido to permanently join the hospitality group. As the Director of Operational Processes & Efficiencies, Salcido supports EAG’s efforts in creating and executing all programs, assisting in bar setup, and staff trainings. Additionally, she assists with the operations of all current and future EAG concepts.
Born to Cuban parents in New York, Ezra Cruz got his start in hospitality by managing and hosting VIP rooms in some of the hottest spots across the country while simultaneously pursuing his acting career. It was while acting that he met Chris Adams, principal of hospitality firm Ellis Adams Group (EAG), through a mutual friend. Impressed with Cruz’s outgoing personality and creative thinking, Adams tapped him to join the team to assist with all things EAG, including bar employee trainings, space activation, and creating signature cocktail menus for the hospitality firm’s clients. Cruz was immediately hooked and loved that he could use his theatrical skills in leading a crowd through presentations.