Michael Vann, Founder & CEO

For over 20 years, founder Michael Vann has been on a personal mission to build an integrated retail foodservice company that has the diversity and elasticity to ride all economic shifts.  Vann’s entrepreneurial career and expertise is rooted in the development, ownership and management of several New York landmark restaurants.

In 2003, Michael Vann created the VGM Development Group, to work with emerging and established entrepreneurs to develop successful business models and sustainable brands.  During this time, Vann was very instrumental in helping Carl Redding, founder of Amy Ruth’s, transform his restaurant into a nationally recognized brand and one of the best restaurants in its niche category.  In 2004, he successfully spearheaded and negotiated a license agreement between Amy Ruth’s and Foxwoods Resort Casino.  Later in March 2007, Vann brokered the deal between Morning Star Restaurant Group, LLC and Carl Redding to purchase the Amy Ruth’s brand.  From 2007 to 2009, he served as Managing Member and Chief Operating Officer of the Morning Star Restaurant Group.

Additionally, Vann has worked with Abyssinian Development Corporation as a consultant.  In 2007, he was hired to assess the feasibility and operational efficiency of the IHOP restaurant on 135th & Adam Clayton Powell. From May 2010 to September 2010 Vann successfully co-developed and launched Redding’s Restaurant in Atlantic City in September 2010,

Vann’s determination to build the Amy Ruth’s brand and other Harlem businesses reflects a long history of leadership, innovation, and unwavering commitment.  As co-founder and creator of the world-renowned Shark Bar restaurant, his vision and expertise secured the Shark Bar as one of the premiere restaurants serving upscale soul food in America during the 1990s. Vann’s additional restaurateur credits include co-founder of national restaurant company, Soulfood Concepts, creator and co-founder of New York’s Soul Café, lead consultant for Sean “Puffy” Comb’s Justin’s in New York and one of the key managers of the landmark restaurant B. Smith’s from February 1987 to August 1990.

In addition to his career as an entrepreneur, Vann has successfully navigated the retail industry as well. In 1979, he served as an executive with New York retail giant Lord & Taylor. Over the span of 7 years, Vann advanced within the company to hold several executive positions in buying, merchandising and retail management.  In 1986, he joined Northwear Fashions of Canada as Vice-President of Sales & Merchandising of Boy’s Outerwear, overseeing the development and national distribution of the collection.


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