Leadership Team


Leadership Team

Andy Patel

Anand D Patel, known as Andy, is the principal of a multi franchisee group which has been involved in the restaurant and hotel businesses for more than 27 years.  Andy started his restaurant career in the late 1980s with Wendy’s Restaurants in Laurel, Maryland.  Within 6 months he was promoted to Assistant Manager, while holding part-time positions at McDonald’s, Domino’s and Burger King.

In 1992, Andy purchased his first restaurant and helped turn its operating loss into a profit within one year.  In 1994, he purchased an IHOP restaurant from Corporate and doubled the revenue within one year.  That year, he won an award for highest sales increase across all IHOPs nationwide.  In 2002, he bought another restaurant and won the highest sales increase in the country.  He has won various awards throughout his career for his management approach including “Franchisee of the Year” from Florida’s IHOPs in 1994, 1995 and 2002.

Since Andy’s first IHOP restaurant purchase, he has expanded his portfolio to 7 IHOP Restaurants, 84 Burger King Restaurants and 3 hotels in Florida.  He has also added 9 Applebees Restaurants in New Mexico, 20 Applebees Restaurants in Virginia, and 25 Applebees Restaurants in the Memphis Tennessee area.  When Andy purchased the 7 Applebee’s in New Mexico in 2009, they were ranked 43 out of 44 in operations.  Today, his Applebee’s are ranked in the top 10 and have been awarded the Operations Excellence Award.

Andy manages over $220 million in revenue and just over 4500 active employees with just as much dedication and conviction as he did when he started working in the industry.

Besides being a successful Entrepreneur, Andy is a proud family man.  He enjoys spending quality time with his beautiful wife of 22 years, Anissa, and 4 children.  His favorite pastimes including watching football, basketball and going to the movies.  In addition to work, family, friends, and pastimes, he enjoys donating to various local charities and sits on the board for West Palm Beach Homeland Security.

Chief Financial Officer

Nimesh is an innovative and driven professional with over 9 years’ experience. Nimesh strives to learn new ways of doing things and takes on challenges that are sometimes out of his comfort zone. Nimesh has strong interpersonal skills by building confidence from colleagues that work around him and across the organization. He has also managed multiple organizations through significant changes such as integration, implementation of new accounting systems, aligning operations with finance which resulted in cohesiveness within the organization. He refuses to give up on a challenging task and constantly thinks out-of-the-box.

Nimesh is the CFO of Apple Investors Group and their affiliated companies where he leads and manages all of the company’s accounting, budgeting, treasury, and operational efficiencies. He also helped the company complete five acquisitions. He worked closely with the CEO, controller, and other team leaders to ensure a smooth transition. He was instrumental in the company’s success by aligning technologies, processes, methodologies and tracked synergies throughout the time sensitive acquisitions.

Nimesh is a certified Project Management Professional and holds a Business Administration degree from San Diego State University.

Johannah Estep
Vice President of Operations for Pizza Hut

Johannah Estep has been in the restaurant industry since 1980.  She worked with McDonald’s for over 7 years and held many operational positions such as Assistant Manager, General Manager, and Director of Operations.   She also worked for Boston Market for 5 years and held various positions within the company such as General Manager, District Manager, and Director of Training.  She was responsible for the training and development of all personnel in over 70 restaurants throughout a 7 state area.

Johannah also has vast leadership experience as evidenced by the fact she had 4 regional trainers, an administrative assistant, and an IT person directly reporting to her.  In February of 2000 she moved over to Arby’s where she started as the Director of Operations and was quickly promoted to the Vice President of Operations.  Just a few years later she was promoted to President and COO of the company where she was responsible for all faucets of the business.

After the company was sold in 2007, she moved on to Burger King and has held operational positions such as District Manager, Market Manager, Area Director and currently holds the position of Vice President of Operations.  She is responsible for all aspects of the business for 23 restaurants.  Johannah holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology with a minor is Sociology from Wichita State University and graduated in 2003 from Palm Beach Atlantic University with a Master’s Degree in Mental Health.

Vice President of Operations for Burger Florida Group/Burger Gulf

Eduardo Haqueo is a native of Mexico City and has lived in the USA, since 1986. His bi-cultural background and focus on community collaboration has led him to a number of volunteer opportunities and community roles in different states around the country.

Eduardo has more than 15 years of experience in the restaurant industry, in different positions and companies. Beginning as an HSC Assistant Manager and progressing to General Manager, District Manager, Corporate Manager, Area Director, and now the position as Vice President of Operations for Burger Florida Group, LLC a franchise of Burger King®.  Eduardo was named “Leader of the Year” by Burger Florida Group, LLC.

Eduardo is a commercial pilot and holds an Associate’s Degree in Business. Additionally, when not working at Burger King, he enjoys spending time with his family and playing golf.

Vice President of Operations for Burger Florida Group/Burger Gulf

Marq Marshall has been in the Q.S.R business for five years.  A graduate from Lane College in Jackson, TN Marq majored in Mass Communication receiving his Bachelor’s Degree. After graduating from the historically black college, Marq began working in Logistics for Saia LTL Freight in Atlanta, Ga. 

During this time, Marq dedicated time to further his education and earn his M.A in Communication from Strayer University. After fulfilling different roles in Logistics such as; Biller, CS Rep, and Inside Sales Clerk, he decided it was time for a change in career paths. 

In 2012, Marq joined Burger King Corporate and relocated to Miami, FL. During six months of intense training in store company restaurants, Marq learned about Burger King Brand operations and procedures. In September of 2013, Marq was promoted to an S.P.O Coach. His primary objective was to review operations and develop teams to strengthen their ability to deliver quality food, excellent guest service, as well as, drive an increase in operations. His final position with BKC was in Tallahassee, FL as a coach working with the Burger Gulf Franchisee. Marq joined the Franchisee to become an Area Director and covered the lower east market in Dothan, AL overseeing 9 stores striving for excellence. He then took on a challenge by relocating to the Panama City beach market to help improve operations in seven stores.

Always striving for excellence Marq Marshall met expectations and excelled in numerous areas of operations. In June 2017, Marq’s devotion to duty and hard work was rewarded when he was personally promoted to VP of Operations by CEO Andy Patel. Marq now oversees 43 locations. 

Vice President of Operations for Apple Investors Group

Steve Hubbard has been cooking his entire life. Starting out cooking for his mom, dad, and seven brothers and sisters. His talent came in handy, cooking his way through college. After graduating from Christopher Newport University with an Accounting Degree, Steve knew he would never be able to sit behind a desk doing other people’s taxes and bookkeeping. The first few years out of school he spent managing several family owned restaurants. He made the jump to corporate restaurants starting as an Assistant Manager at Applebee’s. Twenty-three years later, Steve had climbed the corporate ladder to Vice President of Operations with Apple Investors Group.

Steve loves all aspects of operations, training and helping people develop their talents is his favorite part of the job. In 2015, Steve left Applebee’s to join Russo’s New York Pizzeria as Director of Company and Franchise Operations. Uniquely qualified for this position with Russo’s because he has worked both with Company owned restaurants and with franchised own restaurants. In July of 2016 having missed his family and home state of Virginia, Steve couldn’t resist the opportunity to come home as Vice President of Operations for Apple Investors Group. During his time off, most days you will find Steve in the kitchen passing down his “tools of the trade” to his kids.

Vice President of operations for IHOP

Steve started out in 1999 with IHOP Corp, holding several positions including Project Coordinator, Operations Consultant, Franchise Business Consultant, District Manager and Operations Assessment Personal. He was promoted to Operations consultant after meeting the company’s objectives and began his newest Challenge as a Franchise Business Consultant by opening 5 locations in the Greater Cleveland, Ohio market within 2 months.  We met and exceeded IHOP Corp sales projections and were able to Franchise these locations to two of IHOP Corps existing Franchisees. 

Steve was then asked to take over as District Manager in the North East Division of the United States.  His objective was to take under-preforming locations and make them profitable for sale to prospective buyers. After Steve was able to sell off his area in 2004, he began assessing the operations of one of IHOP Corps largest Franchisee in the Sunshine state of Florida in 2004 for about 18 months.  It was here where he met our CEO Andy Patel while he was operating his 17 stores. 

After spending a short time as a District Manager in Ohio, Steve realized he missed Florida and reached out to Mr. Patel.  He was back in Florida in 2006 as an Area Director for Apple Investors Group.  Since then we have built 3 new iconic locations and purchased one, in St Louis Missouri, Cape Girardeau and Illinois, to add to our Florida store.

Steve is a single father with two children Jake and Alexa.  Steve is proud to say that Alexa has been accepted into Penn State and the Air Force Academy. Her goal is Law Enforcement to try to fill her father’s shoes. In his spare time Steve enjoys working out and riding his Harley.

Matt Palanza
Marketing Director

Matt is a driven and intelligent individual who has been with Apple Investors Group for four years. Born and raised in Hollywood, Florida, Matt grew up working in the restaurant and customer service industries, beginning at a young age in family owned restaurants. From there, Matt moved to Orlando, Florida where he graduated from the University of Central Florida in 2014 with a Bachelor’s Degree in Management and Marketing.

During that time Matt had a variety of marketing and service industry jobs with Landmark Inc., J.Crew, and UCF housing food services.  After being employed for a year as a Marketing Coordinator at Apple Investors Group, Matt was moved to the Marketing Director position in December of 2014. As Director, Matt controls all aspects of marketing for our four major brands, as well as, guest relations and analytics. Matt is currently pursuing his MBA part-time at the University of Florida and is expected to graduate in 2018.

Matt volunteers every year with “NFL Alumni Caring for Kids” charity organization.  In his spare time Matt enjoys traveling and is an avid hockey player and athlete. In addition, he is big supporter of his hometown Florida Panthers and Miami Dolphins.

Human Resources Director for Burger Florida Group/Burger Gulf

Born and raised in Brooklyn, NY and a graduate of St. Johns University with a Bachelor of Science degree in Communication Arts and Sciences, as well as an Associate Degree in Business Administration, Bryan J. Barclay, PHR has been a Human Resources professional for over 20 years. Having success supporting operations leaders in banking, insurance, retail and food services, Bryan brings with him a diverse background, a straightforward style and a desire to be a part of a winning team.

Bryan can best be described as a Human Resources Leader that thinks like an operator. He provides advice and counsel that not only takes into account his vast Human Resources knowledge and experiences, but looks at issues with the overall business goals in mind. Bryan’s goal is not only for the team that he supports to be successful today, but to be successful for years to come.

Bryan enjoys spending time with his wife and two sons. He is a pop culture aficionado and a baseball historian. He is also an avid, die-hard fan of his hometown, New York Mets.

Jackie Brown
Human Resources Director for Apple Investors Group

A native Memphian and a graduate of Crichton College with a Bachelor of Science degree in Organizational Management, Jacquelyn (Jackie) R. Brown is a confident professional with more than 15 years of successful human resources (HR) experience.  She also has been successful in obtaining the Human Resource Professional; PHR, certification. Her personal and professional standards of always “doing the right things” align completely with Apple Investor Group’s core value of striving to become a world class leader. She has a self-motivated, pro-active demeanor coupled with a true passion for the HR profession.

Jackie’s professional career is best described as multi-faceted; having worked in various leadership roles in the corporate, health care, and manufacturing and distribution sectors prior to joining Applebee’s. During her tenure with Applebee’s, Jackie has been the principal HR advisor and has earned a reputation for increasing the credibility and effectiveness of the HR management function by being committed to excellence in the delivery of quality services. Jackie is considered an ambassador for implementing initiatives to build dynamic and diverse teams by improving operational and administrative procedures.

During her down-time, Jackie enjoys spending time with her family and attending competitive dance competitions with her daughter.