Heritage Florida Jewish News - Central Florida's Independent Jewish Voice

Builder Jeff Berger's company celebrates 15th anniversary


This is a big month for Jeff Berger. He will be celebrating his 15th anniversary as a general contractor and owner of Petretti Group, a Winter Park-based company that builds and renovates private residences, commercial buildings, restaurants and coffee shops.

He has built more than $15 million in custom and spec homes in Orlando, Longwood and the Orlando area in addition to major renovations on Winter Park’s Chain of Lakes.

Among many popular restaurants his company has built or renovated are Winter Park’s Cocina 214, a 350-seat Mexican restaurant and bar; and Barnies Coffee Kitchen; and Huey Magoo’s Chicken Tender restaurant, as well as Graze and Fifi restaurants.

Owning his construction company is a dream come true for Berger. “It’s the fulfillment of my life’s ambition—to operate my own company doing something I love in the place where I grew up and love,” said Berger. When asked what he thinks is the key to the longevity of his company, and survival through the recession, Jeff says its nothing more than relationships. “I provide a safe harbor for clients trying to negotiate the often confusing and complicated waters of development and construction. You see, my business is personal to me, and I strive to understand that each project is a home to somebody, or the realization of a life’s ambition in business.”

He had a solid background to prepare himself to run his own company. After graduating from the University of Florida, he worked as a project manager and field supervisor for a local general contractor. Then he got a lucky break. Someone he had worked with recommended Berger to an executive at Planet Hollywood, the international corporation that had its home-base south of Orlando. Planet recruited Berger in 1992. He came on board as assistant to the vice president of development.

Within several years he was promoted to Planet’s director of development. In this position, he was responsible for construction of 45 restaurants on four continents—from inception to grand opening. “I had to deal with sub contractors in dozens of languages,” he recalled.

He was also involved with Planet properties in New York, Miami and

Atlanta—handling lease negotiations, landlord liaisons, and construction management. For Planet, he also served four years as franchise liaison in international development.

In addition to his degree from UF, Berger earned an associate of science degree in construction at Valencia Community College and a master’s degree in business administration from Rollins College.

Berger also makes involvement in the Jewish community personal. For the past five years Berger has been the event organizer and M.C. of the Chabad Chanukah in the Park Celebration on Park Ave. Berger believes, “the most important issue facing the Orlando Jewish community is unity. Each year I see this event grow and bring Jews together from every segment and demographic of our community for sole purpose of celebrating being Jewish. Being able to contribute to this event is a privilege and inspirational.” Furthermore, Berger serves on the boards of the Jewish Federation of Greater Orlando and Congregation Ahavas Israel in Maitland where he continues his work to raise awareness of local Jewish issues and promote Jewish unity in Central Florida.

He and his wife Erica live in Winter Park and are devoted to raising their four children amongst a large extended family which include Berger’s mother, Dr. Jacqueline Berger, a therapist in private practice in Winter Park; and his sisters, Marni Stahlman who is the president and C.E.O. of Shepard’s Hope nonprofit, and Samantha Goodowens, president of her own movie and television production company.

Finally, Berger asserts, “As I reach this milestone with my business, I am reassured that the values and ethics of personal connections and accountability are not only the foundation for a meaningful life but the pathway to business success and longevity.”


Reader Comments

Tarshis writes:

Jeff Berger is ALL that you say he is and more. An honest businessman, one that doesn't seek honor and...a whole lottta FUN! Someday, he'll help build the Beit Hamigdash, he's already on it n the way he conducts his life and treats his family. Represent! Hamsa, Hamsa, Hamsa!


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