Our Company is committed to assisting you in creating a successful restaurant business. We will help you conceptualize your concept, create a plan, and assist you in developing your brand, from the very first dream of an idea to opening day.
We can also help you evolve your current restaurant into a more profitable brand by improving your daily operations.
Jeremiah Higgins | Senior Operations Advisor | Partner
Jeremiah has been involved in opening more than a dozen restaurants. He started his career in the restaurant business in 1990 while attending USC film school, at the same time working for Oscar- winning film producer Alex Ho. When the film community was faced with a yearlong strike, Jeremiah turned toward his other passion, traveling and observing operation details at unique hotels and restaurants around the world. He loved the hospitality business and saw many similarities in what drew him to film: entertainment, attention to detail, and directing a crew to achieve a successful outcome.
Jeremiah was the Chief Operating Officer of the multi-unit company EFC-HCT Enterprises (Enterprise Fish Company and Hurry Curry of Tokyo restaurants). In 2007, the owners of Santa Monica Seafood asked him to open their flagship store on Wilshire Boulevard in Santa Monica, California. Jeremiah was named Director of Operations for Retail. While overseeing the opening of the new store, he also streamlined Santa Monica Seafood's commissary kitchen and improved the operations of the Costa Mesa store.
Shortly thereafter, Jeremiah was hired by a restaurant & nightclub group in Santa Barbara to implement improved restaurant and bar operating procedures for Blush Restaurant and Lounge, and Tonic nightclub. Next, he opened The Marquee Martini Bar, a speakeasy located in the historic Grenada Theatre. He then opened a remodeled Savoy Theatre in downtown Santa Barbara.
Jeremiah is a top-performing visionary with over twenty years of experience in analyzing business drivers, designing operational systems, building staff, and developing cost-cutting and profit-building initiatives to grow the bottom-line. Jeremiah specializes in strategic planning, marketing, brand development and P&L management. This industry experience gives Jeremiah the necessary skills to assist any restaurateur with streamlining operations and implementing cost saving alternatives.
Cobi Jones | Founding Partner
Cobi Jones is a partner in the very successful restaurant Magnolia, with locations in Hollywood and Downtown at LA Live. Cobi is a recently retired LA Galaxy midfielder. He played his entire twelve-year professional career with one club. He was the LA Galaxy's all-time leader in games played (281); goals (66); and assists (86). He is one of three players in MLS history to have scored 60 or more goals and added 80 or more assists and was named an All-Star in each of MLS' first ten seasons.
Cobi is an Olympian, participating in the Summer Games in Barcelona in 1992. He is a U.S. National Team player, participating in three World Cups: 1994; 1998; and 2002. In 1998 he was named U.S. Soccer Athlete of the Year as well as Honda's Player of the Year.
He won his first MLS Cup Championship in 2002 as team Captain, anchoring the LA Galaxy to its first championships in club history: the 2000 CONCACAF Champions' Cup and the 2001 U.S. Open Cup.
Cobi was then a major part of the LA Galaxy team that won "The Double," in 2005: winning both the MLS Cup and the U.S. Open Cup for a second time. He is the all-time U.S. leader and third worldwide in caps (appearances with the U.S. National team) with 164 from 1992-2004. He retired from professional play in 2007, and the LA Galaxy retired his number, 13, making it the first number retired in MLS history.
Cobi then became the Assistant Coach for the LA Galaxy, followed by becoming the Associate Director of Soccer with the New York Cosmos. He continues to maintain an active presence in soccer and the LA community, acting as a Soccer Consultant. He is a partner in Comp Athletic Training Zone and also invests heavily in many green progressive projects in the LA area. Cobi is very active in America Scores and Right to Play, two charity organizations he is very passionate about.
In June 2011, Cobi was inducted into the National Soccer Hall of Fame and is currently a Fox Sports Commentator.
After working and playing in professional sports for 18 years, Cobi has acquired invaluable business experience and team leadership training, with many contacts in Los Angeles and worldwide that contribute to HJL Group's success.
Scott Leibfried | Founding Partner
As a teenager, Scott discovered his passion and pursued his dream to become a chef at Johnson and Wales University in Rhode Island. Upon his graduation, he traveled all over the Northeast and Europe working with world-class chefs to gain the best experiences while honing his cooking craft. Scott has worked in Michelin rated restaurants owned by Chef Gordon Ramsay.
During the travels, he took away the knowledge and understanding of food quality, culture and how food relates to people's lifestyles. He also gained the experience and a broad outlook of food and wines from around the world.
In 1997, Scott relocated to the West Coast as a Chef for the Four Seasons Hotel in Beverly Hills where he supervised all of the kitchen departments, menu development, and special events. There, he learned the importance of details, and how demanding the very best of ingredients equals excellence, a motto he continues to practice every day.
In 2002, he accepted a position as the executive chef for the Napa Valley Grille in Westwood, California. As executive chef, he was responsible for the creation of the recipes by continuing to develop the style and improve the quality of food. While working at Napa Valley Grille, Scott discovered the style of cooking that he enjoys.
Prior to becoming the executive chef at Soliel@k in San Diego in 2006, Scott worked in a few Michelin rated restaurants owned and operated by Chef Gordon Ramsay in London.
Recently Chef Scott was pursued by Santa Monica Seafood to develop the menu and assist in branding the oyster bar and café in Santa Monica Seafood's new flagship retail store on Wilshire Boulevard in Santa Monica, California. Scott cites his "early employment history and affection for Martha's Vineyard and Cape Cod in the summer as a big influence" on his choices for the menu. Since opening, the public approval has been overwhelming; the café has gained tremendous press and local accolades.
Currently Scott can be seen on Fox's #1 rated show "Hell's Kitchen" as Gordon Ramsay's sous chef and has appeared several times on The Food Network's series, "Party Starters" and the "Challenge" series. He also evaluates and consults with Gordon Ramsay on all of the restaurants on the hit series "Kitchen Nightmares". Chef Leibfried is well renowned in the culinary industry and has been invited as a guest Chef at the James Beard House, Crystal Cruise Lines, Compass Group and at Nationwide Food and Wine Expos. Scott is also the national spokesperson for Bumblebee Tuna Foods.
Juan Diego Hidalgo
Junior Advisor | Financial Operations Advisor
Diego began his career in Lima, Peru as a Marketing Manager at an IT consulting
company. It was here Diego learned how to create successful marketing campaigns
for the Government of Peru, and various consulting, sports, travel, and medical
companies. Diego planned, budgeted and created outstanding marketing campaigns in
this position. After eight years Diego decided to move into the sales world. He
worked for Acer, selling worldwide. Diego was quickly promoted to Business Manager,
responsible for the sales in the entire distribution channel: wholesalers, distributors
and customers. As Business Manager Diego was responsible for sales, budgets, projections,
and channel distribution.
Jeremiah and Diego met at Santa Monica Seafood in 2008, where Diego was in charge
of cash management, inventory and payroll. In a few short months Diego was promoted
to Inventory Control Supervisor at Santa Monica Seafood's Wholesale Department.
An entrepreneur at heart, Diego is also running his own advertising company, offering
services such as a media buyer, a sales consultant, a marketing advisor, and offering
media planning and development.
As an Advisor for HJL Group, Diego will work with you to create restaurant operating budgets, build restaurant templates, and provide management and bookkeeper training for your new or existing restaurant.