The Briad Group Aims to Exceed Consumers’ Expectations With Its Projects
Briad opened its AC Hotels by Marriott, an upscale lifestyle hotel, in Bridgewater, N.J., in january.
The hospitality industry is about pleasing guests and providing a one-of-a-kind experience that sets companies apart from the competition. With more than 30 years of experience in the industry, The Briad Group continues to design and build properties that impress its guests by providing cutting-edge design and service.
“Everything is done in-house,” Senior Vice President of Construction and Design Chuck Pagnotta says. “We acquire all our properties, develop, design/build and operate them. That really is a huge value and advantage of what we do.”
Brad Honigfeld founded Livingston, N.J.-based The Briad Group in 1987 when he opened his first franchise: a Steve’s Ice Cream/Carnegie Deli in Princeton, N.J. Although the ice cream parlor is long gone, Briad now owns and operates restaurants, major hotel chains and an outdoor lifestyle shopping center.
Today, Briad operates 111 Wendy’s® Old Fashioned Hamburgers restaurants. The company also owns and operates 18 Zinburger Wine and Burger Bars located in seven East Coast states.
In 1997, Briad became a Marriott® franchisee and five years later added Hilton® to its portfolio. Since obtaining these franchise rights, Briad has developed more than $1 billion in real estate, focusing on limited-service hotels including the Courtyard, Residence Inn, Springhill Suites, Hilton Garden Inn and Homewood Suites brands.
To manage costs and grow wisely, Briad established Briad Construction Services in 2003 to construct and/or remodel company restaurants and hotels on time and within budget. The division has allowed Briad to lower construction costs, reduce construction time and provide greater project oversight.
Listening for Inspiration
From its 9,000-square-foot office in New York, Briad’s construction division focuses on bringing the company vision to reality. The design and construction team constructs full scale model rooms in this facility. The model rooms allow the project team to work out any conflicts in advance, ensuring all details are correct before the actual construction begins. The process it has created provides flexibility and allows the company to focus on the attention to detail.
“When we complete a model room, we bring people in to conduct a survey. The feedback we receive allows us to make adjustments as we feel is needed in advance of building 150 rooms,” Pagnotta explains. “There are not too many developers that build sample rooms within their own office building. We spend a lot of time on the road traveling to see other properties and speaking with other developers and guests. We want to know what we thought was successful and what wasn’t.”
It may seem simple, but Pagnotta says talking to guests gives him insight into what they prefer from their experience. It also depends on the location. For example, what is popular on the West Coast might not translate well on the East Coast.
Although Briad develops its properties in-house, the construction team works closely with third-party architects and engineers. The team has also developed strong partnerships with subcontractors, some of which it has been working with for 17 years. “If we aren’t partnering with our subcontractors, they will not have the ability to grow and neither will we,” Pagnotta says. “There is a synergy between both sides.”
Bringing a Vision to Reality
Briad opened its AC Hotels by Marriott, an upscale lifestyle hotel, in Bridgewater, N.J. on Jan. 31. AC Marriott Bridgewater is the brand’s first property in New Jersey. “This property is 100 percent custom in terms of the design and finishes,” Pagnotta says. “Our thought process was, we wanted it to feel like a full-service property and when you see the level of finishes, it’s over the top.”
Featuring a sophisticated, European-inspired design, AC Marriott Bridgewater offers 146 modern guestrooms with sleek furnishings, open closet systems and hardwood floors. The hotel features a walkway to Zinburger Wine and Burger Bar and will debut Briad’s newest dining concept, The Bradford Fine Spirits & Tapas – a rooftop restaurant.
“We are taking our rooftop experience to new heights,” Pagnotta says. “AC Marriott Bridgewater offers a beautiful suburban view. Guests prefer to be within walking distance to restaurants or clubs when staying in a hotel, so having The Bradford and Zinburger in the same space is just incredible. The restaurants offer two different experiences for guests.”
AC Marriott Bridgewater was one of the first approved hotels of the AC Hotels by Marriott brand and it is anything but cookie-cutter. “We had to make sure at the end of the day that we provided what the consumer wants,” Pagnotta adds. “We had the luxury of going to Spain and touring AC Hotels properties there, which gave us an understanding of what the creator wanted. The challenge was converting a European brand to a North America brand without losing its essence.”
Briad is building a second AC Hotel in San Diego. In addition to this property, Briad has another 10 Marriott and Hilton lifestyle and extended stay hotels in its pipeline. These will open over the next three years and bring Briad to more than $630 million in hotel assets with 21 total properties.
“In 2020 we will continue to expand our hotel division side, exploring new opportunities with Marriott and Hilton,” Pagnotta concludes. “We believe in being proactive in lieu of reactive. Being prepared and making critical decisions when needed have been the keys to our success.”