Driving Demand.

Maximizing Profits.


An Industry Leader.

A History of Success.


Graves Hospitality

Passion Forward.

Development Skills.
Management Savvy.
Lifestyle Experts.

Consistently recognized as an industry leader, Graves Hospitality has developed and managed more than 100 hotels and restaurants, and numerous residential and commercial properties. Our development skills and management services are honed from over 35 years of industry experience while our success stems from being on the pulse of demographic market drivers and lifestyle trends.

We are committed to working on projects that fuel our creative passions, in vibrant markets that excite and inspire, with people who we sincerely enjoy.

Brand Development

Luxury Hotel & Resort Management

Site/Property Development

Rooms Management

Investor Relations

Food & Beverage Management

Revenue Pipelines

Property Marketing

HR Management


Global & Regional Sales Force

Financial Services Management

Sales Management Technology

Information Technology

Guest Luxuries Loyalty Program

Procurement Relationship Management


Decades of Hotel Experience

Graves Hospitality hotels achieve the highest ratings and are awarded the highest levels of recognition within their respective brands and markets. GH has decades of experience working with major branded hotel groups as well as independent hotel groups and direct GDS providers. Our hotels showcase our skill at understanding the intricacies of specific locations and submarkets, identifying the right concept and developing relevant, lifestyle-focused, high-quality projects to drive demand and profitability.

Past and Present Hotel Brand Partners:

  • Marriott International
  • Hilton Worldwide
  • Carlson Rezidor Hotel Group
  • InterContinental Hotels
  • Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide
  • Wyndham Worldwide
  • Best Western
  • World Hotels
  • ihotelier


An Award-Winning History

Unlike most hotel development and management companies who outsource their food and beverage outlets, GH is an unparalleled resource for creating, building and managing signature, award-winning restaurant and event spaces—both free standing and within hotels. Our development expertise includes site identification, concept creation, design and build, team member employment, marketing initiatives and ongoing management. We understand city and state ordinances and adeptly hire, negotiate and oversee contractors to ensure projects are delivered on time and on budget.


Targeted, Successful Projects

Graves Hospitality successfully develops housing projects that consistently garner above-market sales and commercial projects that reward investors through efficient management and adept leasing. Keenly aware of the specific nuances inherent to unique neighborhoods and urban areas, Graves Hospitality delivers targeted projects that capture niche markets and maximize investor profits. The Graves' “Residences at McCarren Park” led the New York, Williamsburg area in sales per square foot while selling out prior to the project's construction completion.

Meet the Corporate Team

Our commitment to being the best means hiring the best. Our corporate team oversees brand and project development, marketing initiatives, operational outcomes, and management of over 1000 team members at more than 25 different hotel, restaurant, and development projects.

Benjamin Graves


“Each hotel, restaurant, bar, commercial or housing project is strategically tailored to service and delight the neighborhood, residents, and guests. It's an adept understanding of demographic drivers and lifestyle trends that separate us from others.”

As Chief Operating Officer, Benjamin guides concept innovation, design direction and management execution for Graves Hospitality. With over 20 years of industry experience, he is renowned for launching a plethora of successful hotel, restaurant and commercial projects and expertly overseeing their management and growth.

Always setting new benchmarks for modern travelers as well as bar and restaurant patrons, Benjamin's projects have ranged from New York to Disney World and include a noteworthy portfolio of local Twin Cities properties. He is credited with spearheading Minneapolis' upscale hotel renaissance, which began with the opening of the Graves 601 Hotel in 2003. In 2011, Benjamin opened Hotel Williamsburg, a stylish boutique hotel that became a model for the future of Brooklyn's hospitality industry. Recently, he opened the first-ever Minnesota InterContinental hotel in St. Paul.

Due to Benjamin's ability to execute upscale concepts that reflect the local community, Graves Hospitality was awarded the MSP airport project, a 300-room luxury hotel located on the main terminal, opening in 2018. Additionally, construction has begun on a 300-room hotel and luxury apartment development Downtown Minneapolis, and plans are in motion to open the first hotel in the Uptown area, validating and expanding Grave's neighborhood-centric, lifestyle-focused hospitality movement.

Recently, Benjamin's restaurant team opened Rival House in St. Paul, Arthur's in northern Minnesota, Bradstreet Craftshouse in Minneapolis, Bucks in Chicago, and the Piedmont in Marquette, MI. All are hallmark examples of Graves' savvy ability to create relevant concepts that combine a chef-driven menu and a multitude of beer and cocktail experiences within perfectly designed, expertly managed spaces.

As a testament to his skills and success, Benjamin was recently awarded the Minneapolis Business Journals' 40 under 40 distinction.

James Graves


“Development is an art form for me. Graves Hospitality strives to be the best in class. That means it's all about creating projects that engage with our guests in creative and authentic ways.”

Over the past thirty-six years, Jim Graves has established himself as a tenacious leader in the hotel and restaurant industry. As CEO, Jim spearheads project development by adeptly combining the financial acumen and interpersonal skills necessary to bring deals to fruition. Creative and innovative in his approach, Jim's entrepreneurial career has proven to be as distinctive as it is successful.

While teaching school in his hometown of St. Cloud, he became attracted to the hotel industry. He worked for two years in hotel development before venturing out on his own in 1979. He launched the AmericInn brand of limited-service hotels, developing 65 of them in small and midsize cities. Despite success in this market, Jim craved more in the way of creative satisfaction and decided to pursue higher-end projects.

Jim is probably best known for redefining Minneapolis luxury hotels with his illustrious graves|601 Hotel. The hotel earned prestigious inclusion in Condé Nast Traveler's Top 100 Hotels issue, and its in-house restaurant, Bradstreet Craftshouse, was named in USA Today's 10 Best Hotel Bars in America. With the success of this Downtown Minneapolis icon, Graves Hospitality launched itself into a new age of hospitality. Currently, in addition to hotel and housing projects in both Uptown and Downtown Minneapolis, Graves' most prominent upcoming local venture is a 300-room luxury hotel that will be located on the main terminal at MSP international airport.

Since its inception, Graves Hospitality has developed and managed more than 100 residential and commercial projects, and the family-owned company now operates a notable portfolio of hotels and restaurants, making Graves one of the last remaining independent hoteliers in Minnesota.

Under Jim's adept guidance, Graves Hospitality has become the standard for industry excellence and, as a testament to his success, in 2015, Jim was inducted into the Minnesota Business Hall of Fame.

Matt Mering

Director of Development

Matthew plays a key role on Graves Hospitality’s Executive Team as Director of Development. In this position, he identifies new hospitality development opportunities, analyzes their viability and leads the sourcing of debt and equity. Additionally, he oversees all of the company’s food and beverage operations, which consists of 12 restaurant outlets, 300 employees and over 80,000 square feet of F&B and event spaces. Combined, these generate over $25M in revenue annually. Since 2013, Matthew has led the development of nine new restaurant concepts and the repositioning of two hotel banquet operations for Graves Hospitality.

Prior to Graves Hospitality, Matthew was a principal at Salita Development, a hospitality development and management firm where he served as director of development. In that position, he was responsible for sourcing new deals, analyzing and underwriting potential acquisitions, coordinating due diligence, capital raising, project management and operations management. Under his leadership, Salita Development successfully developed a 161 room Sheraton hotel in Chicago and two popular restaurants, the Bedford and Carriage House. Both restaurants received 3 out of 4 stars by The Chicago Tribune and Carriage House was voted 2013’s “Best New Restaurant in the US,” by Esquire Magazine.

Matthew’s first leadership position in the hospitality industry began in 2002, as the operating partner of Reserve, an upscale nightclub and lounge he developed in Chicago’s West Loop neighborhood. In this role, Matthew created the brand and managed the daily operations. Under his management, the operation generated $5M in annual revenue and garnered accolades in prominent national media outlets including, US Weekly, CNN, The New York Times, ABC News, InStyle Magazine and The Chicago Tribune.

With initial experience as a management consultant with Accenture in their Chicago and Melbourne, Australia offices and one year working as a bartender with Club Med at their Cancun, Mexico resort, Matthew brings a wealth of both big-picture and hands-on knowledge to his position at Graves Hospitality.

Matthew received his Bachelor of Arts in International Relations from the James Madison College at Michigan State University, and he holds an M.B.A. from the University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business, with concentrations in Finance and Strategy. He currently lives in Minneapolis with his wife and two sons.

Lisa Zollars

Director of Finance and Administration

As part of the Graves Hospitality Executive Team for over a decade, Lisa has established herself as an invaluable resource managing the financial and administrative operations for all Graves Hospitality projects, both currently operating and under development. As a strategic financial business leader, Lisa oversees all development, management and operation budgets. With a keen eye for numbers and a vast knowledge of successful business principals, Lisa plays a key role in identifying, implementing and maintaining accurate and detailed accounting processes that ensure Graves Hospitality is consistently delivering relevant, demand-generating products and services to both its guests and its team members.

With over 15 years in the industry, Lisa brings the financial expertise necessary to successfully implement Graves’ signature brand strategy while maximizing a return on investment. Her adept understanding of financial outcomes uniquely positions her to proactively advise on operational improvements and management strategies, creating a company-wide system of checks and balances that continually eliminate inefficiencies and increase bottom line profits.

A life long force in the hospitality industry, Lisa has held many roles which provide a wealth of experience and strategic insight to her current position. Prior to Graves Hospitality, Lisa worked with CSM Lodging where she was instrumental in new system implementation, process improvements and cost saving initiatives.

Valued for her knowledge both in and out of the office, Lisa currently serves on the board of trustees for both the Greater Metropolitan Hotel Employers-Employees Health & Welfare Fund and the Bar & Restaurant and On Sale Pension Fund.

John Occhiato

Corporate Chef

John Occhiato joined the Graves Hospitality team as the Executive Chef of the graves|601 Hotel. In his current role as the Corporate Chef for Graves Hospitality, he opens new restaurants all around the country, while leading the kitchen at the St. Paul InterContinental Hotel. For the past 16 years Occhiato has been a local leader in fine dining cuisine, doing outreach by teaching classes and donating his services to many Twin Cities charities.

Sally Ableitner

Corporate Director of Sales and Marketing

As Corporate Director of Sales and Marketing, Sally is an essential part of the Graves Hospitality Executive Team. With an extensive sales and marketing background and comprehensive experience in new business development, account management and strategic planning, Sally has a demonstrated track record of increasing sales, enhancing business efficiencies and driving profits.

Prior to joining the Executive Team, Sally was Director of Sales and Marketing at the Graves Hospitality managed, St. Paul DoubleTree by Hilton and its popular Rival House Restaurant. In this position, she earned the “Director of Sales of the Year” award. Prior to this role, she held director and assistant director positions at both the Graves 601 Hotel and The Hotel Minneapolis. She also brings extensive hotel-specific knowledge from her previous senior sales positions at the Westin Minneapolis, Radisson Blu and the Millennium Hotel.

Throughout her early career in hospitality, Sally was promoted into a number of positions from executive meeting manager, business travel sales manager and senior sales manager. Years of combined experience in leadership positions make Sally an adept visionary when conceptualizing and delivering calculated and strategic sales and marketing campaigns. Her efforts repeatedly garner successful product and service awareness through media and public relations that generate demand, leading to quantifiable increases in occupancy and sales.

A Minnesota native, Sally is a graduate of St. Cloud State University with a degree in Geography with an emphasis in Travel and Tourism.

David J Stark, PE

Director of Design and Construction

Bringing 38 years of experience in the construction management and engineering design of a wide variety of projects across the country, David joined the Graves Hospitality Executive Team as Director of Design and Construction. David possesses an impressive skill set that includes the ability to understand the project process from the owner, contractor and designer’s perspectives. His ability to successfully lead, manage and motivate project teams consisting of designers, consultants, contractors and suppliers has been well documented in projects across the United States and into Canada.

A Professional Civil Engineer since 1983, David has an uncanny ability to work with government officials and utilities to obtain permits and services, eliminating costly delays. David is pleased that his leadership roles give him the opportunity to teach project management practices and to help others develop their skills and careers.

David began his relationship with Graves Hospitality back in 2001 while employed with PCL Construction. David was the project manager on Graves Hospitality’s signature Graves 601 Hotel, located in downtown Minneapolis. In this role, David was responsible for on-site planning and execution, sourcing specialty finishes, project buy out and contract management of the high rise concrete and interior build-out. Dave worked closely with the architect, multiple interior designers and Graves Hospitality’s specialty vendors to implement the unique architectural design elements. His astute oversight and compelling expertise left an indelible mark, and Graves Hospitality is now thrilled to have David as part of their Executive Team.

David’s experience is vast. Recently he worked on the US Bank Vikings Stadium in supporting roles for the owner, MSFA, establishing costs and assisting with project schedule review. His initial services were key in helping the MSFA negotiate their $1B construction contract. Previous to that, David was a pivotal resource, assisting the owner with cost estimating services to help negotiate the construction contract value for a major Mall of America expansion.

A lifelong resident of Minnesota, David is a fitness aficionado who greatly enjoys a wide-range of physical activities aimed at promoting health and well-being. He has two grown children and resides in N.E. Minneapolis with his wife, Jan.

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