About

About

Kitchen United was founded in 2018 by a team of restaurateurs and leading industry experts to help restaurants succeed in the world of pickup and delivery. Today, we are a GV-backed business committed to the success of our restaurant partners and launching the largest restaurant build in history.

Leadership

Comprised of restaurateurs and industry experts, Kitchen United’s leadership team is committed to delivering real value to our restaurant partners.

Michael Montagano

Chief Executive Officer

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Michael is the Chief Executive Officer and a Member of the Board of Directors of Kitchen United. Prior to his role as CEO, Michael served as Chief Financial Officer and Treasurer for the company, where he led capital formation initiatives securing institutional financing partners, Google Ventures, Fidelity Investments, and G Squared, as well as the major strategic partners, RXR Realty, DivcoWest, and Rich’s Food Products.

Michael is a seasoned executive with extensive experience raising institutional funding, scaling and achieving exits for venture-backed companies. His background with capital markets range from institutional equity (VC and PE) and debt financings to liquidity events through M&A and IPOs. Most recently, he shepherded PowerFlex Systems from seed-stage to acquisition by a Fortune Global 100, Electricite de France (ENXTPA:EDF). Steeped in the food-tech space, Michael previously helped thousands of restaurants enhance their digital presence and online ordering capacity through an innovative venture-backed tech solution.

Prior to his 10 years leading venture-backed companies, Michael practiced M&A and corporate finance law for one of the world’s 50 largest law firms, Faegre Drinker LLP (then Baker & Daniels, LLP), working primarily with large private equity firms. Additionally, he currently sits on the Board of Directors for Dog Haus World Wide, one of the country’s fastest-growing national restaurant chains.

He received his Masters of Business Administration from the University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business and his Juris Doctorate from Indiana University’s McKinney School of Law.

Michael grew up in a restaurant family, anchored by an Italian restaurant and a neighborhood grocery store and butchery founded by grandparents. Michael resides in Pasadena, California with his wife, Dr. Bethany Montagano, and son, Joey, a proud Polytechnic Panther.

Joy Lai

Chief Operating Officer

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Joy Lai oversees Sales, Marketing, Product, and Operations at Kitchen United. She brings two decades of experience driving growth for Enterprises and SMBs, including launching/scaling products, partnerships, and optimizing omni-channel strategies.

Before Kitchen United, Joy has run several digital/eCommerce businesses in various verticals, including Travel & Leisure, Dental, and Florist. She also previously held strategic leadership roles at Internet Brands, The Wonderful Company, and Bain & Company. Joy received a Bachelor’s in Business Administration and Computer Science from the University of California, Berkeley, and a Master’s degree from Stanford University.

Jessi Moss

Chief Technology Officer

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Jessi brings vast experience in the restaurant, retail, food and beverage supply chain industries. He is a highly accomplished IT Executive & Technologist with deep expertise in developing and implementing customer facing systems and infrastructure. Prior to Kitchen United, he led the business technology initiatives for Pick Up Stix, Leeann Chin, Mandarin Express, & City Brewing Company.

Atul Sood

Chief Business Officer

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Atul Sood is the Chief Business Officer for Kitchen United and is responsible for spearheading strategic partnerships along with administrative and financial management. Prior to his role with Kitchen United, Atul was the Director of Business Development for McDonald’s Global Digital organization, where he was responsible for launching and managing McDonald’s food delivery partnerships. Atul began his career in investment banking and has, amongst other roles, founded, grown and sold his own start-up in the sales technology space.

Kwame S. Brathwaite

SVP, Real Estate Development

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Kwame S. Brathwaite is responsible for strategic partnerships with Real Estate Developers invested in the KU model as well as fostering positive relationships with the local municipalities in our rapidly growing portfolio. Prior to his role with Kitchen United, Kwame was the VP of Real Estate Development for Citibank Realty Services and Regional Portfolio Manager for McDonald’s USA. In both roles, he was tasked with protecting existing assets and growing the value of each company’s west coast portfolios. An executive with 17 years of experience in real estate from his hometown of New York City, Brathwaite has a B.A. from Amherst College and an MBA from Marshall School of Business. He founded and has grown his own company and continues to pursue his passions of fine art and his family business.

Janey Chu

SVP, Human Resources

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With nearly 20 years of experience in human resources, Janey is a skilled and proven HR leader, having worked with various organizations big and small helping to restructure, build and scale their teams. Prior to Kitchen United, Janey held the role of Director, People Partners and Operations at OpenX, and previously held HR positions at tech companies such as Broadcom, Acer/Gateway/eMachines Computers and has also worked in the Entertainment Industry at Miramax Films and Sony Pictures Entertainment. Janey is a graduate of University of California Santa Barbara.

Jen Henriksen

VP, Business Development

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Jen is a highly effective business development leader, with over 15 years in sales leadership and partner development in high-growth organizations. Strategic and innovative, Jen has driven improvements in organizational structuring, sales efficacy, and complex B2B and B2C processes. Prior to Kitchen United, she led sales growth in diverse industries, including technology, manufacturing, and logistics.

Larrah Pawlak

VP, Operations

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Larrah oversees the Operations function for Kitchen United. Larrah comes with over 21 years leading grocery, retail, restaurant and franchise Multi-Unit operations. Prior to Kitchen United, Larrah led strategic operations for brands such as Albertsons, Starbucks, Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf, and most recently, Pressed Juicery. Also experienced in acquisitions, mergers, and large expansion at scale. Larrah believes the most important element to success is building meaningful relationships.

Founders

With distinct backgrounds in technology, finance, marketing, and the restaurant industry, Kitchen United’s founders came together to build a company that transforms industry disruption into restaurant success.

John Miller
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Founder

John Miller is Chairman & CEO of Cali Group. Prior to founding Cali Group in 2011, he was the second employee at Arrowhead (NASDAQ: ARWR) where he was responsible for formation, growth, and sale of Arrowhead’s electronics business unit. John graduated Order of the Coif from Stanford Law School and is an author of The Handbook of Nanotechnology Business, Policy, and Intellectual Property Law as well as various other publications related to nanomaterials and nanoscale electronics.

Harry Tsao
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Founder

Harry Tsao is a serial entrepreneur and investor. Having started two Inc 500 businesses, Harry is laser focused on operational efficiency and scale. Harry formed Avista Investments LLC in 2009 and primary invests in startup and growth-stage businesses. In the last ten years, Avista has invested in three general categories: Internet (eSalon, Baller.tv, Stylehaul, Chegg, etc), Sports & eSports (Golden State Warriors, LAFC, aXiomatic) and Food Tech (Kitchen United, Miso Robotics). In the Food Tech space, Avista Investments focuses on technology and infrastructure that can disrupt the traditional food industry.

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