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Meet The Experts Recap
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Tuesday, May 13, 2014

5:00 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.
Untitled
111 W. Kinzie, Chicago




This event is sponsored by:

Thank you so much for joining us at Untitled for our 1st "Meet the Experts Event!"

Here is a link to Kevin Brown's Keynote Speech- feel free to share it with your friends and colleagues who weren't able to make it.

Please also reply with feedback (good and bad) related to all aspects of the event.  We are hopeful for an opportunity to repeat this event and want to modify it accordingly.  Please fill out the attached survey or send your feedback to membership@illinoisrestaurants.com

For those of you that couldn't make it, please check out our website (www.illinoisrestaurants.org) for upcoming events!




Sincerely Yours,

The Membership Team at the Illinois Restaurant Association

Thank you so much to our experts:

Kevin Brown

President/CEO

Lettuce Entertain You Enterprises

Janet Isabelli

CEO

Isabelli Media Relations

Expertise: Public Relations, Social Media, Web Media

(View Bio)

Janet Isabelli

Isabelli Media Relations

Janet has served as a public relations, marketing and event consultant to the nation's premier destinations for more than 15 years. Before founding Isabelli Media Relations (IMR) in 2011, she held the position of Vice President at Wagstaff Worldwide, where she led the company's Midwest office for nearly a decade. In her tenure, she has worked with nationally recognized entities such as Trump International Hotel and Tower Chicago; InterContinental Chicago Hotel Magnificent Mile; Soho House Chicago; James Beard Award winning Chefs Tony Mantuano, Takashi Yagihashi, and Shawn McClain; BOKA Restaurant Group; the Illinois Restaurant Association; bon appétit presents Chicago Gourmet; and countless others. Her expertise, and that of the collective IMR team, continues to produce editorial results in top tier news outlets from coast to coast, generating nationwide awareness — and business for — the agency's customers.

A Chicago native, Janet has contributed to some of city's leading non profit organizations including CASA of Cook County, Chicago Gateway Green, Ferrer Foundation, and the Lookingglass Theater. She was named one of Crain's "40 Under 40" emerging business professionals in 2007 and one of Newcity magazine's "Food & Drink 50″ in 2013. She holds two undergraduate degrees from the University of Chicago and remains an active alumna.

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Dan Raskin

Owner

Manny's Deli

Expertise: Going Retail, Foodservice

Rohini Dey

Vermilion

Expertise: Financing, Raising capital, and Business planning

(View Bio)

Rohini Dey

Vermilion

A leading restaurateur, a proponent of Indian cuisine with her unique Latin twist, and an avid supporter of women – former economist and management consultant Rohini Dey straddles the worlds of business, glamour and philanthropy across the US and India.

Rohini's career spans several phases:

  • She taught in Academia and has a Master's degree in Economics from the Delhi School of Economics, and a Doctorate in Management Science from the University of Texas. Her dissertation was on the impact of linkages (foreign direct and portfolio investment flows) on economic growth and development. She published on corporate governance as well.

  • She worked at the World Bank in Washington, D.C. where she managed projects in foreign investment and coauthored a book on infrastructure privatization.

  • At McKinsey & Co., Rohini's management consulting project experience and knowledge development spanned a range of industries with a focus on growth.

  • As an Entrepreneur, Dey combines her business credentials with her passion for food by establishing two urbane restaurants in Chicago and the heart of Manhattan.

  • As a Writer, she writes a series "From the Gut" for the Chicago Sun Times Splash celebrity page, she writes for Huffington Post, she has written op-eds for Crain's Business, and a chapter on Indian cuisine as a soft power for Reimagining India (McKinsey collection of 65 essays).

Rohini was inspired to break away from her management consulting career by a desire to go entrepreneurial and a conviction that Indian cuisine in the United States was either confined to stereotypes, or timid and washed out. Rohini created and developed the Vermilion indian-latin concept and cuisine. She led the spectrum of entrepreneurial activities across her NYC & Chicago entities. As founder, owner and culinary director of Vermilion, Rohini oversees the operations and culinary evolution of both her restaurants.

Since inception, Vermilion has been acclaimed as "Best New Restaurant" by Chicago Magazine, Travel & Leisure, Town & Country, USA Today, Bon Appetit, Wine Enthusiast, 3 stars Tribune among others. For it's pioneering cuisine, woman-led team and Rohini's entrepreneurial journey she and Vermilion have been profiled in The Financial Times, Time, Oprah Magazine, Fortune, FSB, Business Week, Esquire, Crain's, Sante, Shelter, Chicago Tribune, Wall Street Journal, New York Times, BBC World, CBS News, NBC, Business Today among others. Rohini was awarded the "Woman of Distinction" award by Children's Hope, Woman of Distinction by Varli Culinary awards, and "Entrepreneur of the year – India" by the City of Chicago. Rohini was selected by the Economic Times as one of the thirteen "Overseas Indians who set to shine even more in 2013." She is on the Board of Directors and the National Advisory Board of the James Beard Foundation and a member of the American Chef Corps of the US State Department Diplomacy Culinary initiative.

As a woman restaurateur, a rarity in this industry, Rohini is a staunch supporter of women in business and mentorship and education of girls on a global level. She founded the James Beard Foundation Vermilion Women in Culinary Leadership Scholarship (WICL) to create women leaders in the dining industry, backed by a roster of celebrity (CFW) "Chefs for Women." She founded the non-profit MSEdG-Educate Girls Globally to which all her writing proceeds go. Dey is an active member of The Chicago Network (TCN), International Women's Forum (IWF), the Women's Forum of New York (WF), 85 Broads and the Economic Club of Chicago (ECC). She actively hosts and has served as a keynote speaker for a multitude of business conferences and lifestyle events across innovation, culinary, entrepreneurship, and women in business. Rohini stays connected to academia by engaging actively with the Entrepreneurial departments of leading Business Schools (University of Chicago, Kellogg, Columbia University).

Rohini is known in the lifestyle space (50 most beautiful Chicagoans – Chicago Magazine, Beautiful Homes – Chicago Social, Entertaining with Flair – Chicago Tribune). She writes a monthly celebrity page for the Chicago Sun Times (Chicago's leading daily). She was one of the ten Chicagoans featured on the City of Chicago's video to welcome NATO delegates and present at the summit. On a personal level, Rohini is equally passionate about all four of her babies (both her daughters, plus both restaurants), is an avid reader, loves to dine out, enjoys travel, running, swimming (the Chicago Marathon, Half Ironman Triathlon) and has accomplished a personal dream - climbing Mount Kilimanjaro.

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Marc Jacobs

Managing Partner

Lettuce Entertain You Enterprises

Expertise: Customer/Employee Loyalty

(View Bio)

Marc Jacob

Managing Partner
Lettuce Entertain You Enterprises

Marc Jacobs is the Executive Vice President of Antico Posto, Beatrix, Foodease, Foodlife and Mity Nice.

In the fall of 1991, Jacobs was introduced to Lettuce Entertain You Enterprises when he began working as a banquet server and busser at Bones. In the summer of 1995, after graduating from UIC with a degree in Criminal Investigation, Jacobs went through the management training program.

The turning point in his career was his transfer to R.J. Grunts in 1997. Jacobs was part of the team at Grunts when the flagship restaurant almost closed.

In 2001, he was given the opportunity to open Antico Posto. He was involved in building the concept and hiring and training the opening team. It was here that Jacobs developed his passion for food and wine and became more familiar with the opening process.

In 2006, Jacobs was a part of the opening team for Di Pescara. Working closely with Rich Melman, Jacobs helped create the concept from the ground up, focusing on interior design, architecture and menu development.

In 2007, Foodlife and Mity Nice Grill joined Jacobs' division of restaurants. Jacobs led a complete renovation and refocus of the concepts with new design, new menus and new business. In 2011, Jacobs reinvented the Foodlife market and opened Foodease, a new restaurant market concept focused around salad and hot bars.

In 2013, he opened Beatrix. His vision for Beatrix was to create the living room of River North, a comfortable meeting place for locals to enjoy breakfast, lunch, dinner and everything in between. Marc was involved from the start, working on concept creation, project design, construction and menu development.

LEYE has also provided Jacobs with the one true love of his life, his wife Vanessa, whom he met years ago while working at Bones. In his free time, Jacobs enjoys traveling, visiting new restaurants and spending time with his three children.

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Dan Rosenthal

Owner

The Rosenthal Group

Expertise: Sustainability, Business Planning, Customer/employee loyalty

(View Bio)

Dan Rosenthal

President
The Rosenthal Group

Dan Rosenthal is a restaurateur with over forty five years of experience, encompassing all aspects of the restaurant industry. He is President of The Rosenthal Group, a company which owns and manages 9 restaurants in Chicago, including Trattoria No.10, 6 Sopraffina Marketcaffès, Poag Mahone's and Cicchetti, his just opened 3 star Venetian themed small plates concept.

For the past 7 years, Rosenthal has devoted much of his time to correcting the huge negative impact that his and other Chicago restaurants have on the environment. All 9 restaurants in The Rosenthal Group have now been certified as sustainable by Green Seal, the nation's preeminent certifying body for environmentally friendly products and services.

In 2007 he founded the Green Chicago Restaurant Coalition, an organization whose mission is to educate Chicago restaurant chefs and owners about sustainability and to bring products and services to Chicago area foodservice operations that are both sustainable and affordable. That organization now has nearly 200 active members.

Rosenthal has also been a passionate advocate for eliminating the non therapeutic use of antibiotics in the raising of animals for food, and has spoken widely on the issue. His restaurants serve over 30,000 meals a week, and purchase over 600,000 pounds of animal proteins a year, every ounce of which has been certifiably raised without antibiotics.

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Ron DiNella

Azzurra EnoTavola

Former CFO

Morton's Restaurant Group

Expertise: Investor Relations, Budgeting, Initial Public Offering, IPO, Restaurants, Finance, International Joint Ventures, structured finance

(View Bio)

Ronald DiNella

CEO
Go Roma

Results-driven senior financial management executive with more than 25 years of progressive experience in finance and business management. Ronald DiNella most recently served as President and Chief Executive Officer for Go Roma, a six-unit chain of fast casual restaurants in the Chicagoland area. Transitioning the award winning Italian chain from its California based parent to a stand-alone brand poised for growth. The transition required providing services including General Ledger, IT, accounts payable and payroll for the 150 employees within a sixty-day period. During the same period, DiNella improved sanitation procedures, food flavor profiles, guest service standards and initiated marketing programs.

He previously served as the Senior Vice President and Chief Financial Officer for Morton's Restaurant Group, an international chain of 77 upscale steakhouses, bringing the company public. DiNella was responsible for all financial, compliance, tax and technological aspects for all Morton's restaurants and Trevi. Additionally, Mr. DiNella supervised the Company's investor relations strategy.

Mr. DiNella was promoted to Senior Vice President and Chief Financial Officer in December 2005 in advance of the Company's Initial Public Offering. Prior to 2005, Mr. DiNella served as SVP Finance of one of Morton's subsidiaries.

Mr. DiNella has served as the Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Illinois Restaurant Association and has served on the Illinois CPA Society's Entertainment Committee. Mr. DiNella currently serves on the Board of Directors of the National Italian American Sports Hall of Fame.

Mr. DiNella is regularly invited to serve as a featured speaker at international restaurant conferences.

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Justin Large

Chef

One Off Hospitality Group

Expertise: menu design, purchasing, retail

(View Bio)

JUSTIN LARGE

Director of Culinary Operations

With time spent in each of One Off Hospitality Group's kitchens, Justin Large is perfectly suited for his role as Director of Culinary Operations. "I was always messing around in the kitchen when I was younger... I remember the first time I tried to make meringue for a pie. It was an unmitigated disaster. I was 8," says Justin Large.

As Paul Kahan's right-hand man, Large has come a long way from his childhood of botched culinary experiments. After spending his youth moving up and down the East Coast, he wound up at the University of Florida where he double majored in global business management and economics. While academics brought him to Florida, it was the side jobs he held that would be his calling.

"During my time in college, I worked at several different restaurants in order to make rent. During that period, I became very taken with food, and decided to cook for a living."

After college, Large made the decision to enroll at the Culinary Institute of America, and the rest, as they say, is history. Following graduation, Large accepted an internship at Paul Kahan's Blackbird, which evolved into a full time position.

Following his time at Blackbird, Large worked as a Tournant at Larkspur in Vail, Colorado and as a line cook at Vie in Western Springs, Illinois. In 2004, Large returned to Chicago and the One Off family for a position as Sous Chef at avec under Chef Koren Grieveson. He went on to hold various positions at One Off Hospitality Group restaurants, establishing himself at The Violet Hour as Consulting Chef in 2007, then as Tournant for The Publican in the summer of 2009 and finally as opening Chef de Cuisine at Big Star in fall of 2009. Large was promoted to Director of Culinary Operations in 2013, and spends his time moving from restaurant to restaurant, fine-tuning each location's back of house operations.

While not in the kitchen, Large enjoys spending time with his wife Molly, and is an avid bike enthusiast.

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Barry Sorkin

Owner

SmoqueBBQ

Expertise: Business Plans, Financing

(View Bio)

Barry Sorkin

SmoqueBBQ

Barry Sorkin a former IT professional who left his safe and comfortable career to pursue his dream of bringing his passion for great regional American BBQ to the Chicago restaurant scene. Mr. Sorkin spent over a year researching the industry, developing the concept, writing a detailed business plan, finding a location, securing financing, fine-tuning recipes, managing the buildout, and planning the opening.

The result was SMOQUE BBQ, a little BBQ joint that opened in 2006 and quickly developed a reputation for serving some of the best BBQ in Chicago and garnered national attention for bringing real Southern BBQ to the big city. In its first two years, SMOQUE was featured in dozens of media outlets including Bon Appetit, Gourmet, The Food Network's Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives, and The New York Times.

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Steve Dolinsky

Food Reporter
ABC 7: Hungry Hound

Expertise: Public Relations Marketing Social Media

(View Bio)

Steve Dolinsky

ABC 7: Hungry Hound

Since 1995, Steve Dolinsky has won 12 James Beard Awards for his TV and radio work. Currently, he is the Food Reporter for ABC 7 – Chicago. Every week, he introduces his two-minute "Hungry Hound" segments live, covering a range of food and drink-related topics. He appears on the station's 10 p.m. news every Friday and Saturday night – the #1-rated newscasts in Chicago. He also is co-creator/producer/host of "The Feed Podcast" with Chicago chef Rick Bayless. Twice a month, the program dives deep into food topics like sustainable seafood or the origins of the Chicago Italian beef sandwich, but also covers spirits, authors, celebrity food lovers and a "final bite" that will literally make your mouth water.

Steve also blogs at stevedolinsky.com, keeping people up-to-date on the happenings in the world of food and wine in Chicago and across the globe, writes occasionally for the Travel sections in The Chicago Tribune and The Globe and Mail (Canada's national newspaper), and files food-related stories for Public Radio International's "The World." Previously, he was the Food Reporter for WBEZ-FM's (Chicago's NPR affiliate) "848" program. He has also written food stories for Michigan Avenue Magazine, The Chicago Reader and The Huffington Post.

In 2004, Steve started Culinary Communications, a food industry-focused media training company that works with chefs and other food and beverage professionals outside of Chicago, teaching them how to prepare for and handle all kinds of media exposure. Steve volunteers his time for a number of charitable organizations in the Chicago area that focus on hunger relief, including Share Our Strength and Meals on Wheels. Before joining ABC 7, Steve was Executive Producer and Host of "Good Eating" from 1995 – 2003. The weekly, half-hour show aired on CLTV, the 24-hour cable newschannel owned by The Tribune Company. Steve began his career as a General Assignment News Reporter, working in Michigan's Upper Peninsula, Davenport, Iowa and Rock Island, Illinois, before moving to CLTV in 1992. You can follow his eating adventures at twitter.com/stevedolinsky.

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Ivan Matsunaga

Executive VP

Connie's

Expertise: Delivery Service, Catering, Restaurant Licensing

(View Bio)

Ivan Matsunaga

Executive VP
Connie's

Mr. Matsunaga has been affiliated with the Connie's Pizza organization since 1986. He currently serves as president of Madi Ty, Inc., a two-unit licensee of Connie's Pizza. He also consults for the frozen foods division, Connie's Naturals, LLC. He has been involved in every aspect of the corporate operation including Finance/Accounting, Human Resources, Purchasing, Site Design and Construction, and Frozen Food Sales. He started his career as an assistant restaurant manager and worked his way through the ranks, up to and including COO and CFO. He is a graduate of Cornell University's School of Hotel Administration. Mr. Matsunaga serves on the Board of Directors of the National Restaurant Association and the Magnificent Mile Association. He also serves on the Finance Committee of Cass School District 63. He previously served as Chairman of the Illinois Restaurant Association and on the Board of the Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce.

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Joe Terrell

Owner

Denny's of Mokena & Joliet

Expertise: Energy savings, Sustainability, LEED Certification

Marc Dorian

Vice President of Purchasing

Lettuce Entertain You Enterprises

Expertise: Purchasing

(View Bio)

Marc Dorian

Vice President of Purchasing
Lettuce Entertain You Enterprises

A native of New York City, Mark started his restaurant career at the world renowned Greenbrier Culinary Apprenticeship Program in West Virginia. Completing the 2-year program he worked in New York City for the next 10 years with Michele Rostang at the Plaza Athana, (staging in Paris and Antibes, France), Drew Nieporant at Tribeca Grill and Danny Meyer at Union Square Café as Executive Sous Chef. Moving to Chicago and LEYE in 1994, Mark held the position of Chef at Un Grand Café, Papagus, Brasserie Jo, and Corporate Kitchen. In February of 2001 he became a partner with the opening of Petterino's and DiPescara. In 2009 he accepted the position at VP of Purchasing.

Mark is married with four beautiful daughters currently residing in one of Chicago's west suburbs. Never really out of the kitchen, Mark enjoys cooking at home for friends and family as well as long distance cycling.

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RJ Melman

Lettuce Entertain You Enterprises

Expertise: New concept development Promotions

(View Bio)

RJ Melman

Lettuce Entertain You Enterprises

Managing Partner of HUB 51, SUB 51, Paris Club Bistro & Bar, Studio Paris, RPM Italian, Bub City, Three Dots and a Dash, M Street Kitchen, Stella Barra Pizzeria (Santa Monica, West Hollywood and Chicago) and Summer House Santa Monica RJ Melman is managing partner of HUB 51, adjoining nightclub SUB 51, Paris Club Bistro & Bar, Chicago's premiere nightclub Studio Paris, RPM Italian, Bub City and Three Dots and a Dash – all located in Chicago's River North neighborhood in addition to M Street Kitchen and Stella Barra in Santa Monica, CA, West Hollywood, CA and Chicago, IL, and Summer House Santa Monica in Chicago's Lincoln Park neighborhood.

With an interest in restaurants dating back to his teenage years, RJ began bussing tables and running food at age 13 at the former Bub City in Chicago. By high school, he was cooking at various Lettuce Entertain You Enterprises (LEYE) restaurants where he further developed his understanding and passion for the restaurant business.

In 2001, RJ received his degree from the University of Kansas with a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and Communication Studies. In the past decade, he has played many roles within LEYE including the general manager of LEYE's iconic first restaurant, R.J. Grunts. He has also served as a consultant to a variety of restaurant projects outside of the company.

RJ, along with his siblings have opened more than 12 concepts within LEYE, their first being HUB 51 and lower-level club SUB 51 in June 2008. Since then, he and his partners have added several restaurants and nightclubs to their resume in Chicago and Los Angeles including a classic French bistro, Paris Club Bistro & Bar and adjoining nightclub, Studio Paris, modern Italian restaurant RPM Italian which they opened with celebrity partners Giuliana and Bill Rancic, Bub City, a BBQ joint with live country music and a tiki lounge, Three Dots and a Dash.

In addition to restaurateur, RJ also spearheads the music programs at their two nightclubs Sub 51 and Studio Paris, which play host to some of the biggest names in music from Calvin Harris and Deadmau5 to Ellie Goulding. In 2013, the partners of Bub City began Windy City Smokeout, the Midwest's premiere summer BBQ festival which brings together the best in live country music and BBQ.

RJ and his partners have several upcoming projects including Ramen-San, a lively, neighborhood ramen restaurant in River North set to open in May 2014, and an expansion of the RPM brand with RPM Steak, a modern steak-house in River North in summer 2014.

Residing in Chicago, RJ is active within the Chicago philanthropic and business community and serves on a number of boards and committees.

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Patrick Wartan

Managing Partner

Axia Law

Expertise: Licensing, Law

(View Bio)

Patrick Wartan

Managing Partne
Axia Law

Patrick has in-depth knowledge of the restaurant, foodservice, hospitality, and technology sectors. His background with e-commerce and the foodservice industry prior to founding Axia Law, LLC provided him the business acumen and operational knowledge necessary to advise his clients. His experience across multiple sectors enables him to advise and represent a wide variety of businesses in a full spectrum of legal matters, including, business formation, initial funding, acquisitions, business transactions, employment concerns, managing accounts receivables, contract disputes, commercial litigation, and negotiations. He works with his clients to foster their growth and he strategically oversees all aspects of their operations to ensure that his clients are on path to success. Patrick also speaks on topics throughout the Chicago area such as start-up growth and operations, foodservice issues, and other current regulations impacting his clients' businesses.

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Jodi Fyfe

CEO

Paramount Events

Expertise: Catering, Events

(View Bio)

Jodi Fyfe

CEO
Paramount Events

Jodi Fyfe is no stranger in Chicago, creating connections through 20 years of experience in the food and beverage industry.

In past enterprises, Jodi has led businesses such as Lettuce Entertain You, the Four Seasons (Newport Beach), ARAMARK and Blue Plate Catering to great success, increasing both profits and reputation.

The real magic however, is premiere catering company Paramount Events, launched by Jodi in 2011. Within three years, Paramount Events has taken the wedding, corporate, and drop off markets by storm and the company is frequently used as the go-to caterer and operations team for large intricate events such as Techweek and Chicago Gourmet.

In addition to the leadership at Paramount Events, Jodi is passionate for the successful advancement of several non-profits. Jodi founded Tickled Pink in February 2004 in memory of her cousin, Carrie, who lost her battle to breast cancer. Within nine years, the organization and annual party of the year has raised over a million dollars with all proceeds benefiting breast cancer prevention programs. In addition to Tickled Pink, for decades Jodi has worked closely with the Hephzibah Organization in Oak Park donating services and time.

Jodi has been interviewed for several media outlets, both in print and television. It's no surprise that she is often sought out for industry advice and tips.

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Art Mendoza

COO

Untitled

Expertise: Opening on a shoe string budget

(View Bio)

Art Mendoza

Owner
Untitled

Art Mendoza has over 28 years of restaurant experience, beginning his restaurant career as a cook during his high school years. His life work has been in the restaurant business, while going through college majoring in Architectural Engineering & Design, Art worked as a Section Manager for the Marriott Corporation in the newly developed Great America theme park division. In 1981, Art moved to Minneapolis, Minnesota and became Development Manager and Partner for Norcenco Inc. a franchisee of Heil E. Cheese Pizza, where he coordinated restaurant design, construction and purchasing of 8 new units. After selling his interest in Norcenco, Inc., Art became Project Manager for the newly created company of Liesurcor Inc., designing and building "Anne Allyn's" a full service restaurant concept in Iowa and Colorado. Wanting to get his hands back in Operations, Art joined Saga Corporation in the Stuart Anderson Cattle Company division as General Manager. Saga was later bought out by American Restaurant Group and began downsizing, which left little advancement.

In 1990, Art joined Chili's Inc. which is now known as Brinker International, working in the Chili's Bar and Grill division. Starting as a General Manager, he was quickly promoted to Area Director in the Chicago and Cincinnati areas with the responsibility of 7 units. While working with Chili's, Art and his area were chosen by Richard Melman (LEYE) as Chili's R & D area. During this time, Art acted as liaison between LEYE and Brinker in menu development and training. In 1997, Art transferred to the newly acquired "Corner Bakery Café" concept as Regional Director. Starting when the concept had only 14 units, Art played an integral part in the development of Corner Bakery Café's, Mission statement, growth strategy and prototype design. His region grew to 56 units in 5 states and the District of Columbia, with over 60% of the company's $150 million volume. Art joined the Lettuce Entertain You Enterprises team in 2004 as Market Partner and became the VP Operations for the Shanghai Circus and Wow Bao division. He was responsible for the growth strategies and evolution of the Wow Bao concept at its three locations in Chicago- Water Tower Place, 175 W. Jackson and 1 West Wacker

.

In 2009, Art began his work as a consultant offering years of expertise to real estate mogul Al Friedman and James Beard recipient Carlos Nieto at their joint restaurant The Happ Inn in Northfield, IL. Art oversaw the daily operations and menu design for the bustling North Shore restaurant. After endless requests from diners for private dining space, Art and the partners at The Happ Inn began construction on the adjacent space that had become available and created a state-of-the-art banquet space ideal for social and business gatherings. Art was instrumental in the design, menus and marketing plan to create revenue and tremendous traction for the new event space.

A year later, Art met the Founder and Managing Partner of Kapoor-Pharma Investments and CEO of JNK Concepts, John Kapoor, and got to talking about restaurants. Kapoor, at that time running four restaurants in the Phoenix and Scottsdale, area was enthralled by Art's background and offered him a chance to oversee his restaurants and expand to the Chicago market. Art became the COO of JNK Concepts and overhauled every aspect of the food and service at Bombay Spice, Roka Akor, Los Taquitos, Puro Gelato and James Beard award-winning Nobuo at Teeter House. Soon, Art became part of the opening team in Chicago bringing the fine-dining, glamorous Japanese concept, Roka Akor, and approachable, healthy Indian restaurant, Bombay Spice to River North. From start to finish, Art went from a completely empty storefront to two successful and highly talked about restaurants in the River North area of Chicago.

From one opening to the next, Art soon teamed up with Proprietor Marc Bushala, a Chicago native with more than 25 years experience in both real estate development and hospitality. Bushala had been actively investing in River North for the past five years and when he found the vacant 111 W. Kinzie space, he knew it had great potential. Bushala assembled an impressive team for the Untitled project and brought on Art as COO. Art recruited Felipe Ospina, formerly of Roka Akor, as General Manager and the three would soon build and open an 18,000 square feet supper club and speakeasy. From the culture to the 1920's menu, vintage cocktails and live entertainment 5 nights a week, Untitled has remained a huge success in its first six months of opening from local to national exposure. Art prides himself on focusing on every small detail of the restaurant whether at a resale shop buying Prohibition era furniture, training the staff on the eclectic menu and listening to various gigs around town to bring in the perfect kind of music to Untitled.

On his free time, Art enjoys golfing, traveling, spending time with family, and riding his Harley.

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Kimberly Galban

VP Operations

One Off Hospitality Group

Expertise: customer/employee loyalty, human resources, business planning

(View Bio)

Kimberly Galban

VP Operations
One Off Hospitality

A Chicago native, Kimberly Galban was introduced to hospitality at a very young age. Some of her earliest memories were around the dinner table with her French grandmother and Filipino grandfather for "Sunday Suppers." While enjoying cuisine from each of their backgrounds, Galban would listen to her grandfather's stories from working as a restaurant host. He described it as "the best job I ever had. I got paid to do something I truly loved, taking care of guests."

In 1998, Galban enrolled at the University of Illinois at Chicago to obtain her bachelor's degree. Looking to balance her studies and finances, and with her grandfather's voice in her head, she took a job in the food industry.

Galban first joined the restaurant group in 1999 as a hostess for Blackbird. She quickly fell in love with the hospitality industry, and after graduating from the university she focused on restaurants full time. Her food expertise and superior guest service was evident, and Galban was promoted to Blackbird's manager in 2002.

In 2004, after helping open acclaimed avec restaurant, Galban recognized an opportunity for growth with the Park Hyatt Chicago, and became the assistant manager at the esteemed NoMI Restaurant. In her five years with Hyatt, Galban filled several roles—from Banquet Director to Group Room Sales to Director of Private Events— each position afforded her the opportunity to refine her innate sense of hospitality and genuine enthusiasm for service.

Galban rejoined the restaurant group in 2008 as the Publican's General Manager, which opened in October of that year. Serving as the face of the Publican for its first three years of operation, Galban continued to cultivate a level of service that surpassed guest expectations. In June of 2011, with the creation of One Off Hospitality Group, Galban signed on as Director of Operations and shortly after was promoted to Vice President of Operations.

In addition to her duties as Vice President of Operations, Galban is a managing partner for Nico Osteria, bringing her hospitality experience back into a hotel setting.

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Matthias Merges

Chef/Owner

Folk Art Restaurant Group

Expertise: Real Estate/Leasing Public Relations Social Media Menu Design

(View Bio)

Mathias Merges

Chef/Owner
Folk Art Restaurant Group

Matthias Merges grew up in Middletown, New Jersey, as the oldest of five boys. The family jokes that their mother was a terrible cook and they subsisted on overcooked liver and onions. Forced to take dinner time into their own hands, the Merges brothers scavenged some ethnic cookbooks -- sukiyaki and sauerkraut replaced liver and onions in no time -- and a chef was born.

After graduating from the Culinary Institute of America, Merges came to Chicago. He knocked on Charlie Trotter's back door (the famed restaurant was only two years old but already changing the way we eat and drink) and asked for a job. He started as garde mange, worked his way up to sous chef, and after a brief hiatus working at other restaurants, began a 14 year run at the helm, responsible for every aspect of Trotter's empire.

Today, Merges runs his own restaurants. Japanese-inspired Yusho; Billy Sunday, reminiscent of of speakeasies; and A10, featuring the simple and delicious food found in small restaurants lining the A-10 motorway that links Northern Italy and southern France.

"I hope my restaurants take all the truths of fine dining [that I practiced at Trotter's] like wellcrafted cuisine, knowledgeable and attentive service, a great environment, a well conceived beverage program, and bring it to a more accessible, friendlier level," Merges said. With two locations in Chicago, Merges is now bringing Yusho to Monte Carlo in Las Vegas. Inspired by travels to Asia, the restaurant features Japanese street food in an casual, energetic, friendly environment. The menu changes often driven by fresh, seasonal ingredients or the kitchen staff's desire to try something new. Opposed to having a set recipe, Merges' team is "inspired by food products and then we start putting them together" to assemble new dishes. From the homemade pickled vegetables to the incredibly tender chicken wings, Yusho's offerings are fresh, simple, innovative, and delicious.

Merges' restaurants also offer a culinary-style approach to beverages. Homemade bitters and tonics are part of a seasonal, creative approach to cocktails that mirrors Merges' cooking style.

"We build our beverage program around an ideal of American ingenuity and an approach to celebrating spirits as unique flavors."

In addition to his restaurant work, Merges is a founding member of Pilot Light, a volunteer organization that advocates for child nutrition, health, and wellness. Working with educators, Pilot Light chefs create a hands-on classroom experience for students that gives them authentic experiences in cooking and nutrition. In addition, the Pilot Light curriculum is structured so that children are able to align their cooking experiences with the other subjects they study in the classroom, like geography, science, language, social studies, and more.

Merges lives in Chicago with his wife, Rachel Crowl, and their two daughters. Crowl owns fc studio, inc., an architecture and interiors firm, and is Merges' business partner. She designs the beautiful interiors of all his restaurants.

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Alex Pappas

Partner

Axia Law

Expertise: Law, Licensing, Zoning

(View Bio)

Alex Pappas

Partner
Axia Law

Michael joined UnitedHealthcare in 2006. Previous to that, Michael was with CIGNA as a New Business Manager for sales and in a variety of service roles. He also worked for Superior Vision Services as the Midwest representative selling in seven Midwest States. As an account executive, Michael has sold vision, dental, life, disability, critical illness and stop loss products in all size segments. In 2009 Michael became the Specialty Regional Sales Director for the Indiana and Illinois markets managing a team of Senior Sales Executives in addition to personal production goals. In 2011, Michael moved into the Specialty Regional Vice President role for the Central Region, comprised of 15 States, managing a team of Sales Directors and Account Executives. Michael likes to say he is a Restaurateur at heart, as his first paying job was working a hot dog stand in a mall in California. Michael is active with the National Association of Health Underwriters in his local Chapter, NIAHU having served as the President of the Chapter and Awards Chair. Michael is currently serving as the Secretary and Communications Chair on the Board of Directors. Michael is an avid supporter of his local Y and is active in his Homeowners Association, serving as President of the Board under a two year term. Michael serves on the Local Leadership Board of the American Lung Association in Greater Chicago. Michael is a veteran of the U.S. Army, having served in South Carolina, Panama and Arizona. Michael currently lives in Valparaiso, Indiana with his wife, Eileen, children Sam (14), Brooke (11) and Ally (6) along with their new Germen Shepard puppy, Meka.

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Chuck Taylor

Associate

Clifton Larson Allen

Expertise: Accounting, Tax

(View Bio)

Chuck Taylor

Associate CPA
Clifton Larson Allen

Chuck is a senior tax manager with CliftonLarsonAllen LLP. He has extensive experience providing tax, accounting and business solutions to a wide variety of businesses. He is highly skilled in tax consulting and planning for the unique situations encountered by business owners and executives operating in the restaurant and other food related industries. Chuck offers comprehensive tax strategy and overall planning programs for multiple-entity companies, including those in transition and/or new business ventures. He supplies hands-on assistance with the complex areas of multi-state and local sales and use tax issues. In addition, Chuck has in-depth knowledge of corporate structuring and restructuring issues to capitalize on favorable tax positions. He holds a Master of Taxation from DePaul University and a BS in accounting from Indiana University. Chuck is a member of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants, the Indiana CPA Society, and the Illinois Restaurant

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Patrick Donelly

General Manager

Hyatt Regency Chicago

(View Bio)

Patrick Donelly

General Manager
Hyatt Regency Chicago

As General Manager of the 2,019-room Hyatt Regency Chicago, the city's largest hotel and largest Hyatt hotel in the world, Patrick Donelly oversees all operations and is responsible for the overall vision and future direction of the property. Mr. Donelly ensures the hotel's prominence as a lead employer, hotel and destination through his active status in the business community. Mr. Donelly is both a member and officer of the IHLA Board of Directors, as well as a member of the Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors, Illinois Restaurant Association and the GNMAA, winning their 2013 Chairman's Choice of the Year Award. He is also a 2011 Illinois Hotel & Lodging Association Ambassador of Hospitality Award recipient. Mr. Donelly is committed to the community and supports several charitable organizations.

Mr. Donelly began his Hyatt career in 1986, served as Hyatt's Regional F&B Director at Hyatt Regency Chicago from 1991-1995, and returned to the hotel as General Manager in 2007 with many years of Hyatt experience gained through prominent Catering, Convention Services and F&B positions he held at several Hyatt hotels nationwide. Mr. Donelly has served as General Manager at Hyatt Regency Knoxville, Hyatt Regency Milwaukee and Hyatt Regency O'Hare.

Under Donelly's leadership, Hyatt Regency Chicago was given a 2012 Better Business Bureau Torch Award for Marketplace Ethics, #3 on the Chicago Tribune's 2010 Top Workplaces list, #14 on Crain's 2010 Best Places To Work list and was a 2009 Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce & Right Management Workplace Excellence Award Winner.

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John Heil

Owner

Heil & Kay

Expertise: Insurance; Risk Management

(View Bio)

John Heil

Owner
Heil & Kay

John Heil, AAI has over 16 years of experience and education focused on helping business owners and risk managers design risk management programs and purchase insurance products. John has developed concentrated experience and knowledge in risk management and insurance product purchases for manufacturers, distributors, public entities, auto services, food processors, importers/exporters, & restaurants. John is a graduate of St. Paul Insurance Company Partnership Producer Program.

He earned a national designation, Accredited Advisor of Insurance after successfully passing three days of examinations in 1999. John was elected by his peers to represent them in 1999 as a Regional Director for the IL Professional Independent Association. John is an active member with the Illinois Restaurant Association & an Advisory Council Member.

He is an active member with the Illinois Automotive Services Association and member of the Better Business Bureau. John has written articles and been published in a variety of publications over the years with articles such as The Consumer's Guide to Insurance, Changes in Today's Insurance Coverage, How to Advise and Protect the Consumer, The Agent's Role in Educating the Consumer, Claims What the insurance Companies Don't Want You to Know. John co - authored a book, Managing Business Risk, Keys to Understanding Commercial Insurance in 2000. In 2005 John Heil founded an insurance agency with the sole focus of helping commercial operations manage their risks. Since 2005 John has grown the agency operation from a single room operation to a middle market sized agency with department specialties in personal insurance, life & health insurance, and commercial insurance.

John is a graduate of St. Mary's University and an Eagle Scout. John lives with his wife and 5 children in a northern suburb of Chicago. In his spare time John is an avid guitar player, camper, hiker, swimmer, and BBQ cook.

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Joe Baez

Senior Associate

Clifton Larson Allen

Expertise: Tax

(View Bio)

John Heil

Owner
Heil & Kay

Joe is senior manager with CliftonLarsonAllen LLP with 12 years of experi-ence working with a wide range of closely held companies. He special-izes in companies within the food and beverage industry as they deal with the challenges of a dynamic, constantly changing marketplace. Joe has a comprehensive understanding of the concerns confronting owners and managers of restaurants, franchises, suppliers, processors and distributors. He brings extensive expertise in performing and supervis-ing audits, reviews and compilations for closely held companies with sales from $1 to $300 million, including assisting with the development and implementation of proper internal control procedures. Joe has sig-nificant experience in performing due diligence procedures in business acquisitions and other transaction advisory consulting. He is a Certified Public Accountant, licensed in Illinois, and is a member of the Illinois Soci-ety of Certified Public Accountants and the American Institute of Certi-fied Public Accountants. Joe is active in the Chicago chapter of the As-sociation for Corporate Growth and the Illinois Restaurant Association.

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Nick Sarillo

Owner

Nick's Pizza & Pub

Expertise: Customer/Employee Loyalty, Human Resources

(View Bio)

Nick Sarillo

Owner
Nick's Pizza & Pub

Nick Sarillo is the founder, CEO and "Primary Keeper" of the Purpose and Operational Values of Nick's Pizza & Pub – the sixth busiest independent pizza company in per-­‐‑store sales in the United States. Founded with the purpose of providing the community with an unforgettable place where families could relax and have fun, Nick's Pizza & Pub has margins nearly twice that of the average pizza restaurant and boasts an 80 percent employee retention rate in an industry in which the average turnover is nearly 150 percent.

Nick credits his company's success to his purpose-­‐‑driven culture, which is the focus of his book, A Slice of the Pie: How to Build a Big Little Business (Portfolio; 2012). Nick is a regular speaker at entrepreneurship and HR conferences, and his insights have been featured in The New York Times, The Economist, Inc., Fast Company and Investor's Business Daily.

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Steven Hartenstein

CFO/COO

Stefani's

Expertise: Cost Control, Building/Maintaining relationships, Visionary leadership

(View Bio)

Steven Hartenstein

CFO/COO
Phil Stefani Signature Restaurants

Steven Hartenstein is the CFO/COO of Phil Stefani Signature Restaurants (PSSR) and Phil Stefani Signature Events (PSSE). He began with the Company in 1993.

Steven has been an integral part of growing what is now one of the top premier Restaurant, Catering, Concessions, Food Service Providers with world class Hospitality in the Country. PSSR has grown to include many full service restaurants, quick casual Café's located at O'hare and Midway airport and throughout the Chicagoland area, a large catering and concession division as well as handling the food service at Navy Pier in the Grand ballroom, Festival hall and Skyline stage.

He began working in the industry in 1978 and graduated from Florida State University in 1986 with a business degree and Major in Hospitality Management. Prior to Joining PSSR, Steven worked with various different companies including Lettuce Entertain You, Levy Restaurants, Gordon Sinclair, Tri M Management (Spinnakers) and Chicago Dining Authorities (Red Kerr's,Harry Caray's) just to name a few.

You can feel the passion in everything that he does as well as his strong dedication to exceeding guest and employee expectations which allows him to maximize guest satisfaction, continue to grow and maximize profitability. His experience started in the back of the house in the kitchens, then moved to the dining room and then to becoming a company leader. He believes that the key to success is hiring great people, developing a strong team, empowering them and staying involved. His leadership skills along with his deep understanding of the many facets of the business and ability to exceed guests expectations continues to contribute to the success and growth of Phil Stefani Signature Restaurants and Catered Events. He understands that a company's success is based on its performance each and every day.

PSSR as well as Steven know the importance of giving back and Community involvement. Steven is on the Board of Keshet (Special Kids Network), He serves on the Board of A-Safe Haven Foundation, assists with Stefani Children's Charities, as well as on the Board of GNMAA, the board of the Illinois Restaurant Association and continues to assist with many charities each year. Additionally, he is a member and is involved with the National Restaurant Association as well as the Choose Chicago on a regular basis.

It is his philosophy that in order to continue to succeed it is essential to be innovative, creative and passionate in all aspects of work and life.

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Wayne Rich

Heartland Payment Systems

Expertise: Payment processing

Michael Telesky

Vice President, Key Accounts

United Healthcare

Expertise: Health Insurance, Affordable Care Act

(View Bio)

Mike Telesky

CFO/COO
Vice President, Key Accounts
United Healthcare

Michael joined UnitedHealthcare in 2006. Previous to that, Michael was with CIGNA as a New Business Manager for sales and in a variety of service roles. He also worked for Superior Vision Services as the Midwest representative selling in seven Midwest States. As an account executive, Michael has sold vision, dental, life, disability, critical illness and stop loss products in all size segments. In 2009 Michael became the Specialty Regional Sales Director for the Indiana and Illinois markets managing a team of Senior Sales Executives in addition to personal production goals. In 2011, Michael moved into the Specialty Regional Vice President role for the Central Region, comprised of 15 States, managing a team of Sales Directors and Account Executives. Michael likes to say he is a Restaurateur at heart, as his first paying job was working a hot dog stand in a mall in California. Michael is active with the National Association of Health Underwriters in his local Chapter, NIAHU having served as the President of the Chapter and Awards Chair. Michael is currently serving as the Secretary and Communications Chair on the Board of Directors. Michael is an avid supporter of his local Y and is active in his Homeowners Association, serving as President of the Board under a two year term. Michael serves on the Local Leadership Board of the American Lung Association in Greater Chicago. Michael is a veteran of the U.S. Army, having served in South Carolina, Panama and Arizona. Michael currently lives in Valparaiso, Indiana with his wife, Eileen, children Sam (14), Brooke (11) and Ally (6) along with their new Germen Shepard puppy, Meka.

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Glenn Keefer

Owner

Keefer's Restaurant

(View Bio)

Glenn Keefer

Owner
Keefer's Restaurant

Glenn Keefer is Managing Partner of Keefer's Restaurant in Chicago, Illinois. Originally hailing from New York, Glenn came to Chicago in 1980 with the Palm Restaurant. After working for The Palm for 12 years, Glenn opened the Chicago Ruth's Chris Steak House in 1992 (later taking on the job of Vice President of Operations for a group owning 8 Ruth's Chris restaurants). In 2001, Glenn went out on his own with brother Richard and Jimmy de Castro and opened Keefer's Restaurant in Chicago's River North neighborhood.

Keefer started his 45 year restaurant career as a bus boy in Amityville, New York in 1969 . He worked as a commercial fisherman on an off shore lobster boat to pay for college tuition and survived the sinking of his ship 30 miles off the coast of Montauk Point, New York. At that point, Glenn decided it was better to sell the fish in a restaurant than to catch the fish on the ocean.

During the last ten years Glenn has seen many issues dramatically affect the hospitality industry in Illinois. In 2005 Glenn worked with The American Cancer Society, The Lung Association and fellow restaurant operator Dan Rosenthal to found COUGH - Chef's and Owners United for Good Health to fight for a ban on smoking in restaurants and bars. The resulting ordinance adopted by the City Council was written by COUGH and served as the model for Smoke Free Illinois which followed less than 2 years later. Keefer's Restaurant was the first Chicago Restaurant to voluntarily ban smoking nearly two years ahead of the law.

Also, in response to the recent Illinois Concealed Carry Bill mandated by the US 7th Circuit Court of Appeals initiatives led by Keefer and the Illinois Restaurant Association were supported by coalitions that included The Chicago Convention Bureau, The Loop Alliance, The Lakeview Chamber of Commerce, The Illinois Hotel & Lodging Association and The River North Association at a meeting held at Keefer's with Governor Quinn to petition him to address a flawed Concealed Carry Bill that fails to recognize the danger of guns and alcohol.

Glenn has a BA in Religious Studies and Dead Languages from Saint Lawrence University (1977) in upstate New York. Glenn has been married to his wife Christina for 30 years and has a daughter and a son.

Glenn was awarded the Dennis F. Kelly Award named after the first president of Catholic Charities, which is given periodically to a member of the Board of Advisors in recognition of his or her outstanding service and witness to the mission of Catholic Charities as active lay women and men in the Church.

Glenn is a member of the Executive Board of The Illinois Restaurant Association and was recently installed as Corporate Secretary. In 2012 Glenn received the "Restaurateur of the Year" award from the Illinois Restaurant Association "For Outstanding Service and Dedication to The industry".

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Jim Pfieffer

Account Executive

Social Media Beast

(View Bio)

Jim Pfieffer

Account Executive
Social Media Beast

Social Media Beast is a booming, three year old social media marketing company owned by the O'Malley Magnusson Publishing Group, LLC, and sister company to Concierge Preferred. We are a social media marketing and content production company based in Chicago that leverages a variety of social media channels, content, promotions and advertising to drive business for our clients. Services include popular social channels including Facebook, Twitter, Blogs and YouTube plus up and coming social platforms like Pinterest, Instagram and Google+.

Social Media Beast specializes in a "turnkey" approach to social media marketing. We'll work with the client to understand their needs and voice, craft a strategy, create a content calendar and then execute it on a day in and day out basis to meet their marketing goals. We establish success benchmarks and report our progress to clients on a regular basis. We can create all types of content ranging from Facebook posts and tweets to blogs and video. We also have full design capabilities. We're committed to understanding our clients business well enough to represent their brand in a seamless and highly effective manner.

Our client list ranges from local, iconic brands like Navy Pier, Connie's Pizza, Ditka's Restaurant (Chicago, Oak Brook Terrace, and Pittsburgh), Medieval Times and Twin Anchors to more national players like AMREIT, IMAX Theatre and Tilted Kilt. We have clients in categories including hospitality, restaurants, real estate, attractions, automotive, retirement centers, theatre, transportation, retail and non profits.

We are committed to keeping our company on the cutting edge of social media marketing through a culture of learning. In addition, we believe that people want to be with people they like so we focus on hiring smart, fun loving people who work hard and love what they do.

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Nic Senerius

Director of Hospitality

ReSource Point of Sale LLC

(View Bio)

Nic Senerius

Director of Hospitality
ReSource Point of Sale LLC

Nic came to ReSource POS in 2008 after studying business at Purdue University. He learned the business from the ground up by building his product knowledge in our operations facility. Today he specializes in national depot service and large POS rollouts for our customers. He has proven that his commitment to great service at a low cost leads to prosperous relationships and growth for everyone involved.

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Laurie Cairns

Partner

Blast Marketing

(View Bio)

Laurie Cairns

Partner
Blast Marketing

Laurie works closely with ownership and executive management to craft brand strategies that inform business plans. She has provided leadership in developing corporate vision and mission statements backed by powerful brand platforms and actionable marketing and internal communications plans.

Laurie has developed brands for a range of clients that range from family owned businesses to Fortune 500 companies. Her powerful adaptation of strategic branding and brand archetyping has contributed to powerful, differentiated brands that engender loyalty and motivate employees.

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