Boston Strong: Mark Benvenuto brings depth of experience to Belmont Capital Theatre Division
For this month’s concession executive profile, we move back to the operator side and introduce you to Mark Benvenuto, president of the theatre division at Belmont Capital. Belmont Capital is the company’s current name, but we must harken back to the name Boston Concessions Group for Mark’s career overview, since it is intertwined with the company’s history. Mark will celebrate 25 years with the company this coming March, and he has enjoyed a wide array of challenging jobs and seen this industry change completely.
Mark graduated from the University of Connecticut with a Bachelor’s degree in human-resource management and went to work right out of school for Boston Concessions Group. Established by Joe O’Donnell in 1961 in Boston, Mass., Boston Concessions provided foodservice, catering and distribution to theatre operations, ski areas, amusement parks, football stadiums, concert venues and wholesale operations throughout the New England area. Mark began his career as a food and beverage director working within each of these sectors at various time periods. His experience across this variety of industries built his knowledge of best practices. He continued to manage larger locations and events as his experience increased, such as NASCAR track events and Super Bowl catering.
In 2004, the company changed its name to Boston Culinary Group (BCG) and became more involved in the operator side of these businesses. They made investments into restaurants, resort ownership and theatre ownership. Mark became VP of operations for the theatre division. This was an eclectic group of cinemas with various ownership partners in the New England region. In 2005, they acquired eight Hoyts theatre locations and took over the management of three others. This was during a wide consolidation period in the theatre industry and BCG was involved from all sides.
Since the Hoyts acquisition, BCG bought, sold, closed and opened various theatres from Philadelphia to Bangor, Maine. The company remained involved from both the supply and operator side until it divested itself of theatre distribution (called theatre merchandising) in a deal with Continental Concessions in 2009. Then, in 2010, it sold its recreational services to Centerplate Foodservice and changed its name to Belmont Capital. In 2012, they began the conversion of 11 indoor theatre locations to digital projection, followed by their drive-in location in Rhode Island in 2013. Mark was named president of the theatre division to oversee the entire theatre operation, which currently totals 15 locations with 106 screens.
Mark observes, “Managing people is the toughest part of the business, but also the most fulfilling.” He has been teaching people how to manage people for several years and now enjoys the consistency of working exclusively in the theatre division. He personally enjoys movies, which makes his current position even more satisfying at all levels.
I asked Mark what has been the most challenging work amidst the wide variety of his experience. He replied, “A NASCAR event or a Super Bowl is by far the most intense, with so much that needs to happen within a short window of time.”
From his vantage point, “the theatre industry is more consistent. It is challenging to find and keep great staff, but we pride ourselves on it, and enjoy a great retention rate with our managers.”
The theatre business has changed greatly over the 25 years of Mark’s career and he has experienced it all, from market consolidation to the sophisticated operation of the modern cinema complex. Mark is particularly interested in the changing food aspect of the theatre, which fits nicely with his vast catering experience with the company. He sees this as the best opportunity the company has to grow the consumer experience since its conversion to digital.
That interest spills over into his personal life, as he also enjoys cooking and learning about all the facets of preparing meals. Mark lives in Salem, Mass., and enjoys spending time with his six-year-old son and four-year-old daughter. The company’s office is in Cambridge, Mass. Mark grew up (as a twin!) in Connecticut, so he has lived in the area his whole life and continues to enjoy it fully, as his theatres span the region.
Mark Benvenuto is a great example of a concessions executive who has crisscrossed knowledge across industries; he just got to do it with the same company in a long, durable career.