Michael Kaufman, Partner, Astor Group and CIA guest innovator.

Michael Kaufman

Partner, Astor Group

A Visiting Lecturer at the Harvard Business School, Michael co-developed and teaches a second year MBA course, “Challenges and Opportunities in the Restaurant Industry.” Spring 2020 was the third year the course is offered.

A partner of Astor Group, a New York boutique M&A advisory and investment firm, Michael has focused on assisting companies primarily in the restaurant and retail sectors with strategy and with transactions to raise capital or to buy or sell companies or assets.

Previously, Michael led Metromedia Restaurant Group (then a $1.4 billion chain restaurant company) for a dozen years, created and successfully exited a restaurant start-up, and innovated a restaurant brand for a luxury retailer. Michael also served as an investment banker with Kluge & Company and an M&A lawyer with Paul Weiss Rifkind Wharton & Garrison in New York.

He served as Chair of the Board of the National Restaurant Association, and is currently a director of the Association, a trustee emeritus of the Association’s Educational Foundation and of the Culinary Institute of America, Chair of the Business Leadership Council of Menus of Change (a collaboration between the Culinary Institute of America and the Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health, an executive advisor to Gryphon Investors (a San Francisco-based private equity firm), a director of Dessert Holdings LLC (a $300 million dessert manufacturer), a member of the Board of Overseers of Northern Westchester Hospital, and Chair of the Hospital Board’s Community Health Committee and). He also served on the boards of Benihana, Inc., Culinary Concepts by Jean-Georges, and the Chappaqua School Foundation (including as its President).

The recipient of a number of industry awards, including the Golden Chain Award and the Cecil B. Day Ethics Award, and a recognized keynote speaker, Michael is a graduate of Harvard College and Harvard Law School and lives in Chappaqua, NY.