Doug Warner was born and raised in the Washington DC/Maryland area, eventually moving to Boston during high school where he began his hospitality career at a local movie theater in Lexington, Massachusetts. Being the son of a very encouraging teacher, his path to college was one he always looked forward to.
As if going to school full time while managing to achieve high marks wasn’t enough for Mr. Warner, he decided to take his psychology-focused skills for a test drive in a diverse people-centric field. Not yet a doctor, Doug assumed the next best alternative to a therapist would be a bartender. Doug reconnected with one of his former managers, Erin Callahan
, who recruited him to work with her at Kings in Boston’s Back Bay, where Doug balanced bartending, teaching, and being a full-time grad student. This was the start of Doug’s entrance into “Eatertainment” and his introduction to many of the people he would work with for many years to come, including then General Manager, Josh Rossmeisl
It was only a few months before Doug's bartending role kickstarted his leadership journey, which began when he was offered the role of “Beverage Manager” which was even more impressive as he was going to school full time maintaining a 4.0 GPA. Outside of the traditional inventory, scheduling, and ordering responsibilities, Doug’s primary objective was always to get “butts in seats”. This is where he would put his skills to the test.
Being a beverage manager to Doug was more a role of creating a culture with the bartenders about learning who their guests were, figuring out creative ways to keep them in the building, and enticing them to come back more often. He slowly began to change the mentality that the location was solely a destination spot for celebrations and helped to define programs that activated the venue's three bars seven nights a week by helping introduce and nourish programs like Industry Night, College Night, Trivia Night, and other theme promotions. All were designed to generate buzz in the city and drive foot traffic during off-peak times. Most importantly, “Dr. Warner” taught the bartenders to talk to their guests and figure out what would get them to come back more often for their “liquid therapy”.
Not long after graduating from Boston University with his Master’s degree in Psychology, Doug took a hiatus from hospitality to work with a market research firm that was focused on product campaigns and helping provide data-driven analysis to several leading consumer brands. It was here that Doug developed a passion for analytics research to help marry tangible consumer data and emotional affinity to brands. He was fascinated by the work and the results.
As the Kings brand began to grow and opened a second location, Doug was recruited back to help with the launch of the second location. This time not as a Beverage Manager, instead Doug was drafted into the role of Marketing Manager for the company. Armed with years of studying psychology, his intimate knowledge of the brand operations, and previous experience working on several marketing campaigns, along with his newfound skills at the market research firm, Doug had the perfect skill set to begin overseeing the marketing and social communication of the emerging brand.
As the brand continued to grow, so did Doug’s responsibilities as he was promoted to Director of Marketing for the company. Doug was a natural leader and the ultimate team player who could relate to every member of the team. He began creating a culture around marketing and promotions by motivating the team at all levels through his thoughtful, inspiring nature. Doug recognized that every position within the organization had the ability to impact the guest experience and sales and would actively engage those around him to lead and inspire measured results and would show them how their efforts would impact the business's continued growth. He did this while simultaneously building foundational processes that created the necessary structure and predictability that allowed for growth and not putting out fires.
As the brand grew to 11 locations in 5 different states, Doug was appointed Senior Vice President of Marketing and Sales Innovation, where managed all promotions, special events, charitable endeavors, fundraising, social media, and much more. He was overseeing all departments in sales, design, graphics, marketing, and advertising. He began a global focus on streamlining processes and a sales-building culture for the nearly 30 sales and marketing leaders within the company. His primary objective was to create a sandbox for the team to play in and give them the tools to thrive in their role. Never forgetting where he started, Doug would always take time to mentor sales managers and help prove that creative optimism was always paramount to one's growth.
Doug exemplifies two key AMP Up1 process values
that have helped to shape many leaders and a very successful brand: “Challenge Status Quo to Evolve” and “Take action. It can only suck once, or it can be the best thing we've ever done”. Whether it was sending a cheeseburger into space (3rd times a charm) or developing a promotion with the team that would increase sales and frequency, Doug would never look at a challenge and make excuses, instead, he would rally the troops, figure out creative solutions, and build out a process in one of the most Kaizen ways until it was not only rolled out, but improved upon. He would thoughtfully analyze whatever wasn’t working and would make brilliant pivots that would generate results.
As Doug is helping build the future of Eatertainment at AMP Up1 Hospitality
, his 20-year thesis remains and is stronger than ever. As process-driven as Doug may be when leading a multimillion-dollar company, he always contends that social connections and psychological nutrients are what people crave most in “Experiential Dining”. His passion for this has led him to co-founding the brand Ke
nekt, with which he aims to prove his theory that people are wired for interconnectedness in ways that are more powerful than just putting games in a building and serving food and drinks. Taking his years of focus on social psychology and his intimate knowledge of the Eatertainment world, Doug is changing the shape of experiential dining by marrying technology, innovation, social connectedness, and the “analog” to provide a premier guest experience in a people-first, purpose-driven organization.
When Doug is not tirelessly working on new ideas and promotions you can find him with his wife Jennifer, daughters Morgan and Zoe and dog Otto. Doug is also a passionate Karaoke artist and self-proclaimed barbecue pitmaster. Doug is an avid sports fan, reader, and music lover and is always adding to his vinyl music collection. He still makes time to revisit his hospitality roots by mixing up and experimenting with food and drinks.
To meet Mr. Warner is to meet a man who has figured out the perfect balance in life. His ability to juggle a successful business career along with being a remarkable husband, father and student of emerging trends are among the most admirable traits of this industry legend. Doug’s crowning achievement in his professional career is his ability to marry his right and left brain with his heart and soul. The results speak for themselves.