Leo Neves was born in Brazil and moved to the United States with his family when he was just 8 years old, settling in the North Shore of Massachusetts. He got his start with restaurant groups such as Legal Seafood’s, Stadium Sports Bar & Grill and Fire & Ice Restaurant. Leo spent several years in various front of the house roles, diversifying his skillset before diving into the back of house and administrative positions to become as well rounded as possible. Before long, Leo moved into management positions and eventually got his shot to become the General Manager at Stadium Sports Bar.
In 2013, Leo ventured into the “eatertainment world” joining a popular concept in Boston's North Shore as a Floor Manager. There, Leo quickly stood out as a calming and confident presence on the floor during an extremely busy launch of a brand new location. No matter the situation, Leo was always the first to raise his hand and offer to help and to take on a natural leadership role. His dedication to the team and to the experience of his guests was evident and impressive from the word “go”.
Leo’s hard work, intelligence, and knowledge of the restaurant business as well as his talent for managing people quickly got him promoted to Assistant General Manager shortly after the opening. A few short months later Leo was offered the position of General Manager and relocated to Orlando, Florida on the world-renowned International Drive. In Orlando, Leo worked tirelessly to develop his venue into a big success by fostering a culture of development and commitment to ensuring a memorable guest experience.
With Orlando being the hospitality capital of the world, a heightened level of service was mission-critical and something Leo took to new levels. With nearly every attraction, restaurant, and entertainment concept within 10 miles of his location, Leo decided that the commitment to service of the guest would be how he and his team would win. The empowerment of his young team was legendary in the mission to build the business in a sea of competition. On more than one occasion, Leo and his team landed his location in the top 10 on several review sites - most impressive given the over three thousand different options they were competing with.
Rather than try to compete with some of the world's biggest attractions, Leo would constantly remind and focus the team on the value of building a business one guest at a time and would empower his team to exceed guests' expectations whenever they had the opportunity. Armed with a passion for creating raving fans and a “one percent gains” growth mindset, Leo was able to change the stigma that most businesses labeled the transient business to making memories in the World’s top entertainment destination.
Leo was involved in several new store openings and was eventually promoted to Director of Operations and later “Regional Vice President of Operations” for the brand’s southern region including locations in Orlando, FL, Raleigh, NC, Nashville, TN, and Miami, FL. All told, Leo had nearly 500 employees under his direction in three states. Leo’s work ethic and dedication are truly remarkable, often spending weeks at a time traveling to ensure the growth and success of the brand across the country. He was the guy that the team members would run up to, when he entered the location rather than run away from. He sincerely cared about the team of people and always looked for ways to enhance the quality of life and culture for the team.
Beyond the operational involvement, Leo was instrumental in the Culinary Program and Menu Development as well as purchasing for all of the brands locations. His involvement with the Executive Chefs came from the time he had spent doing the job himself. His contributions to the culinary program were significant.
Leo is a guy who bets on himself. He has never needed “Carrots & Sticks” and proved this in his last venture starting off as a “Floor Manager” and in less than 5 years, being promoted to the companies “Regional VP of Operations”. Leo is the guy who will show you his value with his actions and lets the team around him be the jury. Never needing to be reassured as he believes his future is dependent on his ability to develop a team around him and grow himself from his comfort zone and taking risky chances. He will always remind you that you “can't grow if you don’t let go” and is the first one to say “take my job” to anyone who wants it and more impressively give them a clear roadmap to do so. In 2020, Leo took the leap to join AMP Up1 Hospitality
so he can continue his passionate pursuit to grow himself and those around him.
In his new role at Amp UP1, Hospitality, Leo is going to be taking his skillset to the next level and will be working on the launch of the company's new brand, Kenekt
. Leo’s experience in having successfully launched multiple entertainment venues prior to joining the Amp UP1 Team makes him a natural to continue to lead the growth the company expects to have over the next several years. In between location openings, Leo will be supporting all levels of Operations and Culinary and working very closely on several of the new innovations the brand plans to introduce.
If you ask Leo what he likes best about his job, he will tell you he loves the rewards of mentoring the team and observing the individuals around him grow as he watches the evolution of the operation he worked so hard helping to build. His passion for giving a platform to the “underdog” comes from the chances he himself has been given in his career. Leo has the special skill of seeking out talent based less on how much they say and more on what they do. In total, in the years he has been in leadership, Leo has been responsible for the growth of dozens of top tier leaders and will always refer to these leaders who he loves growing and mentoring as his legacy. Leo truly embodies the Core Values of Amp Up1 and will become one of the defining reasons for the success of the company.
In Leo’s “spare” time he enjoys spending time with his son, Lucas and with his family and friends. Leo is a very creative guy and gets his inspiration from the R&D that he does as he explores new, innovative dining & entertainment establishments and always challenges himself to learn from the best.