Ed Viita, formerly the Senior Director of Operations and Development at Pure Grey, is joining Streetsense as the Managing Director of Hospitality through Streetsense’s Pure Grey acquisition. Read on to get a look at his fascinating career in hospitality and around the globe.
Managing Director of Hospitality Ed Viita could not have anticipated such a title or career at age 14. He was singularly focused on one thing—music. Particularly, jazz and the saxophone. By age 15, he was in multiple bands, including the National Youth Jazz Orchestra in London, and was incorporating other instruments into his repertoire, like the flute, the bass, and “a little guitar, but nothing to write home about.” His love for music took him to one of its most famous institutions, The Berklee College of Music in Boston. It only lasted a year, and as he looks back on that time, he concluded “a career in music wasn’t for me.”
So Ed found himself back in London, studying philosophy “with no vocational target,” and that is where he found hospitality the old-fashioned way: economic necessity. As he remembers it, “I needed to make ends meet.” He had started working in hospitality at the Bull’s Head in Barnes during his final year at school—a smooth transition as it was, because it’s a pub with jazz seven nights a week. A fan of the night world, he felt at home in the “dark, dingy, moody environment.” He even saw Mick Jagger perform there.
This opened the door for a whirlwind career in hospitality. From the Bull’s Head, he moved onto a variety of roles in independent restaurants and bars in London, before joining The Langham Hotel, where he was involved in the opening of the Artesian Bar, which went on to win “World’s Best Bar” for an unprecedented consecutive four-year run. Then, to broaden his experience across hospitality by incorporating events into his resume, Ed moved on to The Savoy, “the other most iconic, historic hotel in London.” There, he and his team worked on events that were attended by royalty, prime ministers, and international celebrities. For a year, it was an interesting ride, but it was stressful. “I’d wake up in a cold sweat wondering how we were going to accomplish tomorrow’s tasks.”
During his time at The Langham and The Savoy, he had worked with the people behind the Gorgeous Group, a hospitality agency in London that “laid the map for food and beverage consulting,” according to Ed. They took him in, and it was there that he moved from operations to consulting, developing and implementing holistic hospitality experiences around the world.
From the Gorgeous Group and through project work with The Ritz-Carlton team, he got involved with Marriott International and came on board there as Director of Food and Beverage, Europe. His tenure included the Starwood merger, and he became an expert in licensed restaurant concepts as well as how a global brand can cultivate local approaches. That work evolved into Pure Grey, Marriott International’s in-house elite restaurant and bar consultancy.
And we’re excited to announce that Pure Grey, and obviously Ed, are now part of the Streetsense family, which will allow Pure Grey—now part of Streetsense’s hospitality arm—to expand their services and therefore provide an even stronger partner for Marriott International long-term.
Which is music to our ears. Speaking of, as Ed takes a moment to look back at his career and this exciting new opportunity at Streetsense, he notices that “there are synergies between the life of a jazz musician and the life of a creative consultant.” Not only does he get to throw together a restaurant playlist from time to time, creativity is abundant in both lives. And that’s what has him, dare we say it, jazzed about working at Streetsense: “It’s all about collaborating with a wide variety of creative people.”
We’re excited to announce the Streetsense acquisition of Pure Grey, formerly Marriott International’s in-house elite restaurant and bar consultancy, that has helped create memorable and distinctive F&B concepts across the globe such as Revel & Rye at the New York Marriott Marquis; Laurel Brasserie & Bar at The Grand America Hotel, SLC; Spice Market at Live Aqua San Miguel de Allende, Mexico; and their most recent launch of the Market Kitchen brand at the new W Algarve, Portugal.
The combination of Streetsense’s well-established Eat & Drink studio combined with Pure Grey, alongside our placemaking, interior architecture, brand and marketing teams, has created the leading hospitality consulting group in the industry. Learn more about our hospitality expertise here.BACK TO LATEST