Web Exclusive: Cultivate Hospitality Group expands with new projects

The future looks bright for Cultivate Hospitality Group, a full-service food and beverage consulting team—with new expansions and projects on the horizon.

Led by President/Managing Partner Peter Peterson and cofounder/Principal Sam Bakhshandehpour, Cultivate connects real estate developers with industry-leading chefs and restaurant operators. The pair has grown Cultivate’s national footprint with a pipeline of 17 new projects across nine markets through 2025, and, the team has six to date this year.

“Cultivate has really hit our stride in our fifth year,” Peterson said. “When we started the company, we really wanted to become that ‘go-to’ source to bridge the gap between blue chip real estate and world-class hospitality operators. Our ‘North Star’ was to only work with the best on both sides and that has really panned out well for us.”

Peterson explained that despite the challenges of the pandemic, Cultivate had a ton of momentum and deal flow, working with clients to re-assess their business growth strategies.

“It’s a really exciting time to be out there helping them grow and find the best partners, it’s also just a really exciting time for hospitality in general,” Peterson said. “People are so thankful to be traveling and are really embracing new projects that have opened in the past few months. There’s also so much pent-up demand for growth. So, our clients keep adding more and more to our plate.”

Peter Peterson

Most recently, Cultivate has celebrated two major luxury hotel properties on the East and West coasts: The Ritz-Carlton New York, NoMad and Conrad Hotel Los Angeles.

“[Both properties] are at a scale and quality that will absolutely change the hotel landscape in both their respective markets,” Peterson said. “They have world-class architecture, stunning interior design and such unique culinary offerings. Bringing Jose Andres and ThinkFoodGroup into both projects was just such a perfect fit.”

For Ritz-Carlton Nomad, Cultivate worked with ThinkFoodGroup to create the hotel’s food and beverage programming. The result is Jose Andres’ restaurant, Zaytinya. For Conrad Hotel Los Angeles, Peterson began working on the project 15 years ago at Related. Over the years, he’s worked alongside architect Frank Gehry as part of the project’s master planning. Today, Cultivate worked withThinkFoodGroup to develop the hotel’s five culinary outlets.

It wasn’t always smooth sailing for the firm, however. Like most hospitality businesses, Cultivate had to muscle through the destruction that COVID left in its wake.

“Like most firms focused on hospitality our world came to a grinding halt,” Peterson said. “Most of the projects we were working on hit pause or cratered. We had to really shift our business from helping clients grow to helping them just survive.”

Peterson explained, however, that his experience as an operator and working for a developer/owner helped clients in both worlds understand what the other side was going through.

“One of the biggest messages we drilled home for both sides was to try and be patient and listen before making any big decisions,” he said. “A lot of owner/operator relationships actually came out the other side strengthened by the challenges presented by the pandemic.”

The last few years taught Peterson the value of experience, but also, compassion.

“I always knew [hospitality players are compassionate] but COVID really drove that home…seeing how people really rallied together and tried to help everyone get through to the other side,” Peterson said. “And the creativity and perseverance were just astounding. This industry is really special.”

He added, “I also think people took for granted so many benefits of hospitality, especially restaurants, in their daily lives. The pandemic made them realize how lucky we are to be able to go out to restaurants, feel taken care and the social aspect of dining in a restaurant setting. The newfound appreciation for our industry really bodes well for future growth.”

Now, Peterson is seeing a lot of movement into secondary and tertiary markets, which was happening pre-COVID. Cultivate has hired new people to solely focus on those markets.

“We don’t like to advise clients on a market unless we really know it well, so having some dedicated team members to live and breathe them helps us better serve our client’s needs,” he said.

Cultivate is also starting to turn to the international side, with a number of clients who are looking overseas. “We’d really like to develop a strong network abroad,” Peterson said.

With new projects and goals for the future, Cultivate continues its momentum into the future but hasn’t lost sight of its foundation.

“F&B can be your Achilles heel or your greatest differentiator from your competition,” Peterson said. “Leaning into the challenges of delivering quality F&B experiences to your guests has so many benefits. Just surround yourself with the best minds and passionate people…they’ll make the journey fun and worthwhile.”