Project Serve - What If Syndicate

Reinventing Our Industry

What If Syndicate is backing the next generation
of food and beverage leaders.

The global pandemic has decimated the restaurant industry and more than a few great operators that have lost everything. We see the current landscape as a vast opportunity to help revive and reinvent the past glory of our industry.

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What If Syndicate is backing the next generation of food and beverage leaders. Independent restaurants are the soul of our major cities and we see an opportunity to replenish what was lost.

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Our experienced team has all the resources necessary to help young entrepreneurs and restaurateurs succeed. Truth is that the Chicago food scene is strong and if you can make a restaurant concept work in Chicago – you can make it work anywhere. Our team of professionals will refine, fund, launch and make the dream a reality.

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"This incubator is designed to accelerate
the restaurant industry’s rebirth
by creating new concepts for the new normal."
— David Pisor

We are Looking for the Best in the Business

Applicants can come from any part of the restaurant world but should have 5+ years of experience in the industry and a big idea to share. The applications will be vetted through our panel of experts and winning concepts will be chosen to join the program and will receive seed funding, mentorship and a full suite of tools to launch their new company.

The top candidates will travel to Chicago to present their concepts this summer to share why they are the right concept to become part of the Project Serve program. What If Syndicate experts will pick one or two winners to join the incubator and help build their first business unit so that it is primed and ready for growth.

Thank you for your interest in Project Serve. We have stopped taking new applications and will be choosing our finalists and announcing details very soon!

Success Stories

Aya Pastry

When our team sees talent and an opportunity to grow a business from within, especially one that services our restaurant ecosystem, they move on it – and that is how Aya Pastry was born.

Our award-winning pastry chef, Aya Fukai developed her incredible reputation at RIA, Sixteen and most recently at Maple & Ash Chicago where she was named Pastry Chef of the Year in the Critic’s Choice Dining Awards by the Chicago Tribune. With a vision to start her own pastry company to service the restaurant and hotel industry, the leadership at What If Syndicate sat down with her and built a plan to open up a bakery and start selling products. They found the right real estate, built a production kitchen and launched the bread and pastry company giving Aya the reins to own and run the business.

Her mission: to support Chicago restaurants, hotels and patrons by providing an extensive bread and pastry program unmatched by other bakeries. Along with her wholesale business which caters to more than 40 accounts, her West Town storefront with craveable treats is open to the public daily. Two years in and the business continues to grow and build a cult-like following in Chicago.


Chef Hari Chan, an established sushi chef in Chicago was hooked the moment he met Chef Danny Grant, Executive Chef and Partner at What If Syndicate.

Chan started his career at Sai Café as a teenager, and spent decades opening and running Japanese restaurants and sake lounges across Chicago. Over a martini and a fire-cooked steak at Maple & Ash, the duo promised to one day explore a new concept together.

It took five years, but the time has come, and Kessaku was born. Hari oversees all of the culinary aspects of Kessaku while the What If Syndicate team focuses on growth and exploring new real estate to expand the Kessaku brand across the country. With one open in Dallas now at The National the team has signed deals for three more Kessaku locations in Chicago, Miami and Los Angeles.

Let's stay in touch

[email protected]
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