About Us


As Forefront founder and principal consultant, Robert LaPata is a lifelong native of Chicago,and a seasoned, 23-year veteran of the restaurant consulting and hospitality industry. Robert has worked with some of the most respected leaders in the industry including, Hilton Hotels, Omni Hotels, Hyatt Hotels, and Lettuce Entertain You Enterprises. As a graduate of the Culinary School of Kendall Collage in Chicago, Illinois and in attending The Caesar Ritz School of Hospitality Management in Brig Switzerland, he has a full understanding of both front and back of the house operations.

What makes Robert a unique hospitality professional is his ability to take a conceptual idea and turn it into a working and effective reality.

Robert possesses a vast understanding of concept development, construction management and has owned, opened, consulted on, and operated restaurants ranging from 52 seats to 600 seats, from upscale French Brasseries to Southern BBQ and Seafood restaurants. Robert has led teams in several different openings in Chicago, Boston, and suburban Chicago locations.




Lawrence Flam has had a long and rich career of over 25 years in the hospitality industry. Larry believes that restaurants are guest driven, and that every thing we do is aimed at making the guest experience memorable. Larry has worked as an executive for great organizations including Rich Melman’s Lettuce Entertain You, The Kimpton Hotel and Restaurant Group, Rainforest Café, Marcus Hotels and The N9NE Group.


Executive Chef James De Marte began working in his family’s Chicago restaurant at the age of twelve. Following his formal training at Kendall College, James landed at Le Francais in Wheeling, followed by Les Nomades with Roland Liccioni. After eating his way through Korea and San Fransico, James spent ten years abroad, working and training in Italy.


Chef Brandi Beaver is a graduate of Le Cordon Bleu with over 12 years of industry experience. Brandi has spent time both on the national restaurant and manufacturing sides of the industry to combine an innovative approach with an executable product. She was the culinary marketing chef for a national sales bakery as well as research and development consultant to national restaurant and retail brands. Brandi is a member of the ACF.


Patrick Niebres has worked as an artist, designer and photographer in the food service industry for nearly 20 years. His corporate client list includes Windsor Foods, 7Eleven, Olive Garden, Vita Foods, Sonic, Highland Baking Co., Saratoga Foodservice, Wendy’s and a host of others. Locally, Patrick has created logos, websites, menus and photographed dishes for new and emerging restaurants throughout the Chicagoland Area.