The Mooring

Newport Restaurant Group (NRG) today announced the hiring and promotion of 18 employees-owners.

According to NRG, it is the only employee-owned hospitality company in Rhode Island and offers full-coverage benefits, food and beverage discounts, generous time off, and opportunities for career advancement. 

“This is the most significant round of hiring we’ve done in our history, demonstrating the strength of our company, even after two years of setbacks due to the pandemic,” said Kristin Allain, Director of Human Resources in a statement.  “It’s a true testament to our unique employee-ownership model and our strong leadership that we have been able to attract and retain talent, despite the labor shortage which reaches far beyond the hospitality industry.”

The following is a list of promotions and new hires. The backgrounds of each employee are provided by NRG.


Alia Asher of Westport, MA has been promoted to executive sous chef at the Boat House in Tiverton.  Prior to her new role, she was sous chef at 22 Bowen’s in Newport, and had also worked at a local slaughterhouse in Massachusetts, and in numerous positions at restaurants in Fort Lauderdale, FL, including line cook, kitchen supervisor, and sous chef at the Riverside Hotel, sous chef at the Wild Sea Oyster Bar & Grill, and chef de cuisine at the Boathouse at The Riverside.  Alia is a native of Kingston, Jamaica and holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Culinary Arts from Johnson & Wales University, where she graduated Summa Cum Laude.

Paul Sousa of North Providence, RI has been promoted to general manager at Bar ‘Cino and La Vecina, responsible for the day-to-day operations of the neighboring restaurants in Newport’s Washington Square.  Paul joined NRG in 2014 as a restaurant manager at Hemenway’s before taking the helm at Waterman Grille.  Prior to joining NRG, he managed Cafe Paragon and Viva on Thayer Street in Providence. Paul holds a degree in Business Management from Rhode Island College.

Tobey Sanborn, an NRG veteran, has been named director of training, responsible for meeting strategic objectives related to training and development of all staff members with a focus on succession planning.  Prior to joining NRG, Tobey held various roles at the Capital Grille and Back Bay Restaurant Group, and then served as general manager of Hemenway’s before it was purchased by NRG in 2009.  He has since held various roles within NRG consisting of oversight of management training programs, the acquisition of the Papa Razzi locations in Massachusetts and Rhode Island, Waterman Grille, and the Boat House.  Tobey is a past member of the board of directors of the RI Hospitality Association and is committed to several fundraising initiatives with RI Community Food Bank, Save The Bay, and the Ronald McDonald House in Providence.

Celia Darragh of Johnston, RI has been named general manager of Trio in Narragansett, responsible for managing all operations of the restaurant. Celia joined NRG in 2017 as a dining room supervisor at The Mooring Seafood Kitchen and Bar and worked her way up to assistant general manager in February 2021 before being promoted to her new position.  Prior to joining NRG, she worked as an assistant restaurant manager for the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Newport, overseeing the property’s five food and beverage outlets.  Celia holds an associate degree in Baking and Pastry Arts and a bachelor’s in Restaurant Management from Southern New Hampshire University.

Gary Morrison of South Grafton, MA has been named regional manager and is responsible for directing and overseeing management activities of assigned Business Units (BU) by partnering with general managers (GM) to maximize profits through efficiencies, policy, and best practices. 

Prior to joining NRG in 2012, Gary was a general manager and then regional manager for Back Bay Restaurant Group. 

Greg Coccio of East Greenwich, RI has been named corporate executive chef, responsible for training culinary teams on advanced cooking techniques, quality assurance, implementation and training with regards to new culinary objectives, and operational support for every restaurant.  Chef Coccio has been with NRG since 2010, first as kitchen supervisor and most recently executive chef at Avvio in Cranston.  Prior to joining NRG, he was an executive chef for Tavistock Restaurant Group and the executive sous chef at CBS Scene.

New Hires

Jarrod Carter of Attleboro, MA has been named Inventory control manager.  The Johnson & Wales University graduate previously worked as director of operations at High Limb Cider and as systems manager and beverage manager at G Hospitality.

Jason Messier of Pawtucket, RI has been named human resources manager, responsible for special projects within the human resources department.  He attended Rhode Island College and has worked in various HR capacities for Peak Event Services, Russell Morin Catering & Events, and Blount Fine Foods.

Jay Nearhoof of Taunton, MA has been named Assistant general manager of the Mooring Restaurant.  He attended the University of Rhode Island and was most recently assistant general manager at Splitsville and Howl at the Moon in Cincinnati, Ohio.  Prior to that, he held a variety of positions over the course of five years at the Splitsville and Howl at the Moon locations at Patriot Place in Foxborough, Massachusetts, starting as a busser and working his way up to assistant general manager 

Jeff Tenner of Narragansett, RI has been named director of concept development, responsible for idea generation and the development and business implementation of new concepts and production practices, with a focus on balancing current values with emerging trends and new opportunities. Prior to joining NRG, the 25-year hospitality industry veteran, served as the vice president of food and beverage and head of restaurant operations for Spyce, a Boston-area restaurant start-up powered by robotics & automation. He helped lead the organization to their recent acquisition by Sweetgreen. 

Laura Schnaible of Marlborough, MA, has been named recruiting director.  Prior to joining NRG, she was a teacher, and then human resources representative at The New England Center for Children where she served children and young adults with autism.  A native of Indiana, she graduated from Valparaiso University with a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration and holds a Master of Science in Education from Simmons University.  She is also a Society of Human Resource Management certified professional.

Lisa Knowles of Middletown, RI has been named show director, overseeing sales, marketing, and operations for the Newport International Boat Show.  Prior to joining NRG, Lisa worked in landscape design, responsible for logistics, graphics, drafting, and on-site operations.  She holds a degree in Plant & Soil Sciences from the University of Massachusetts Amherst, is a certified crowd manager and is a past board member of the RI Marine Trades Association.

Robin Pearson of Newport has been named digital marketing manager, responsible for NRG’s digital strategy and presence, as well as its robust customer loyalty campaigns.  Prior to joining NRG, Robin worked in marketing and strategy for Reebok and Samsonite. She is a graduate of George Washington University.

Steve DeLuca of Pembroke, MA has been named the general manager of Foodlove Market, responsible for the day-to-day operations of the chef-crafted marketplace and cafe, including strategic direction, financials, inventory management, and more. He holds a Master of Science in Organizational Development and a Master of Business Administration from Bridgewater State University.

Tony Ojih of North Providence, RI has been named staff accountant, responsible for maintaining, reviewing, and preparing financial records and assisting with auditing and reconciling accounts. Prior to joining NRG, he worked in various accounting positions at TD Bank, Finish Line, the Town of Lincoln (RI), and Dunkin’. He holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Accounting from Rhode Island College.

Christine Coogan of Milford, MA has been named General Manager of Papa Razzi Wellesley, responsible for leading the store and management team, hiring and developing new staff members, and the guest experience. Prior to joining NRG, Christine worked as the assistant general manager for the Barking Crab in Boston’s Seaport district as well as Back Bay Restaurant Group. 

Cindy Vigneau of Coventry, RI has been named benefits & compensation manager, responsible for the oversight of all benefit and compensation plan administration, the development of various employee benefit plans, and the maintenance and evolution of the company’s compensation plan.  Cindy brings 30 years of finance and HR experience, across a variety of industries, to her new role.   She holds a degree in Principles of Financial Management/Basic Accounting I/Basic Accounting II from the Community College of Rhode Island.

Cori Desmond of Bristol, RI has been named inventory & menu systems administrator, responsible for supporting the inventory & menu systems manager in creating and maintaining the inventory back-end systems for all business units within NRG.  Cori holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Business Administration from the University of Rhode Island.

Still Hiring

Additional positions are currently available at Castle Hill Inn, 22 Bowen’s, The Mooring, Smoke House, and Foodlove Market and include a variety of front and back-of-house positions including managers, servers, hosts, bussers, bartenders, cooks, dishwashers, banquet staff, valets, baristas and cashiers. 

Read More – Newport Restaurant Group will host three hospitality job fairs in May

Candidates who are interested but cannot attend the summer job fair are invited to apply online by visiting:

Ryan Belmore is the Owner and Publisher of What'sUpNewp.  Belmore has been involved with What’sUpNewp since shortly after its launch in 2012, proudly leading it to be named Best Local News Blog in...