Chef Akhtar

Akhtar Nawab is chef and owner of Alta Calidad in New York, a partner at Bar Chinois in Washington, DC and founding partner and co-CEO of Hospitality HQ (HHQ). Nawab’s ‘less-is-more’ style of cooking has earned him critical praise throughout the years, beginning with his experience in the kitchen at acclaimed restaurants like Gramercy Tavern, Craftbar and Craft. The latter received three stars from The New York Times and won the James Beard Foundation’s “Best New Restaurant” Award during Nawab’s tenure.

After nearly 10 years at the helm of Tom Colicchio’s restaurants, Nawab moved on to his own projects. Nawab received StarChef ’s “Rising Star Chef” award while serving as executive chef of East Village gastropub The E.U., before striking out on his own as chef/partner in Elettaria in 2008. Shortly thereafter, he found himself gravitating towards Mexican cuisine and took the helm at popular NYC hotspot La Esquina. In 2017, Nawab opened his innovative Mexican restaurant Alta Calidad in Prospect Heights, Brooklyn, which has earned a Michelin Bib Gourmand and continues to thrive as a neighborhood mainstay.

Nawab has been featured in publications including Food & Wine, Bon Appetit, USA Today, and Eater, and has appeared on NBC’s “TODAY Show,” CBS’s “This Morning Saturday,” PBS’s “Simply Ming,” as well as Food Network’s “Iron Chef America,” and as a regular judge on “Beat Bobby Flay” and “Next Food Network Star.” He has also been featured in the acclaimed cookbook Coco: 10 World-Leading Masters Choose 100 Contemporary Chefs (Phaidon, 2009) and J’aime New York: 150 Culinary Destinations for Food Lovers (Ducasse Books, 2012), and has released his first cookbook, Good For You: Bold Flavors with Benefits (Chronicle Books, 2020).

Since 1998, Chef Nawab has forged some of his deepest friendships and connections working at the highest levels in the culinary community in San Francisco and NYC. Throughout his tenure at some of the most established restaurants, working alongside some of the world’s most prominent chefs and restaurateurs, Nawab has built unique relationships with top culinary talent based on trust, and attracting top talent is of paramount importance to him. Given Chef Akhtar’s scope of experience, from New American (working for Chef Tom Colicchio for the better part of a decade) to Mexican and Indian.

architectural + feasibility study

Overall market assessment:

  • Provide a full market assessment and the capability for the food hall
  • Research demand drivers within the neighborhood and overall region that will bring in customers
  • Share what similar food halls have done both regionally and nationally that could be well replicated
  • Provide full comps of food halls in the area and share relevant data for comparison projects

Financial Pro forma:

  • HHQ will create the economic waterfall outlining and determine the necessary test fit and architectural feasibility
  • Underwrite full financial pro forma utilizing market data, HHQ historical food hall data, and assumptions shared from ownership to include the following:
    • Construction costs and estimated build-out costs (inclusive of all soft/hard costs, FF&E, and kitchen appliances)
    • Top-line revenue from all stalls, kiosks, & bar(s)
    • Total operating expenses on the property
    • Distribution of cash flows and key owner metrics: cash payback period and IRR
    • Financial model to include sample vendor P&L for ownership to better understand vendor economics