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Mark Maynard, co-founder and Director of Operations, Blue Smoke

Mark Maynard

Co-Founder & Director of Operations

Mark Maynard is a Director of Operations for Union Square Hospitality Group where he drives the strategic direction of all Blue Smoke enterprises, Porchlight, and USHG’s overall bar programming. 

Mark’s career at Union Square Hospitality Group began as a host/reservationist at Union Square Cafe, where he was personally trained by Danny Meyer to become its maître d’. He was ultimately named General Manager. It was there that he absorbed the company’s approach to hospitality, which he characterizes as honest, straightforward and caring.  

Mark later moved on to co-found Blue Smoke and Jazz Standard in 2002. Under Mark’s leadership, both Blue Smoke and Jazz Standard emerged as destinations for well-curated spirits, vibrant cocktails and craft beer. Mark also led the strategic growth of Blue Smoke, which expanded to multiple locations, including New York’s Battery Park City and outposts of Blue Smoke at CitiField, home of the New York Mets, Washington Nationals ballpark and JFK Airport’s Delta Terminal Four. In 2015, Mark co-founded and conceptualized Porchlight, USHG’s first stand-alone bar located in the emerging West Chelsea neighborhood. Mark then went on to spearhead the opening of Cedric’s at The Shed in 2019. Shortly after, he published his first hospitality focused book titled, The Next Frontier of Restaurant Management: Harnessing Data to Improve Guest Service and Enhance The Employee Experience (Cornell University Press, 2019). 

A graduate of Cornell University with a degree in Landscape Architecture, Mark sees both disciplines requiring patience, planning and vision. Most importantly, he believes that in both cases, simplicity matters most and a design’s effectiveness is only as good as the end-users’ experience and their connection to it. Mark, an avid cyclist, gardener and bakery aficionado, lives with his two children in South Orange, N.J.