Executive Partner and Divisional President
Marc began his career with Lettuce Entertain You (LEYE) in the fall of 1991, as a banquet server and busser at Bones (now L. Woods) in Lincolnwood, Illinois. After being cross-trained as a server, host and line cook, Marc became a manager of the restaurant upon his graduation from UIC in the summer of 1995.
Two years later, Marc was transferred to R.J. Grunts, LEYE’s first restaurant, and was quickly promoted to General Manager. It was there that he first worked alongside Rich Melman on the re-development of the restaurant, which went on to launch what would become Marc’s lifelong career in restaurants and hospitality.
In Marc’s 29 years with LEYE, he has been a Partner for 14 years and has led the creation, design and re-concept of more than 16 restaurants across Chicagoland. Today, his portfolio includes Beatrix; a restaurant and coffeehouse located in River North, Streeterville, Fulton Market and Oak Brook, Beatrix Market; a quick and healthful grab and go experience with five locations and growing, Ēma; a Mediterranean and California-inspired restaurant, Aba; the sister restaurant to Ēma, featuring a restaurant and patio in Chicago and Austin, TX, The Dalcy; LEYE’s private event hall in Fulton Market and Bar Ramone; a wine bar featuring Spanish tapas.
Marc is centered around his love for restaurant design, menu development and team building. His restaurants and chefs have earned many accolades including a Michelin Bib Gourmand and a spot on Chicago’s top restaurant lists from Zagat, Eater and the Chicago Tribune.
Outside of the restaurants, Marc sits on LEYE’s Executive Board, is a member of the LEYE Consulting Group and is an Advisory Council member at DePaul’s School of Hospitality Leadership. He enjoys spending time with his wife Vanessa and their three children, Samantha, Alexandra and Gabriel, visiting new restaurants, and traveling.
Michael Giles is a Partner and operator for Aba, Beatrix, Beatrix Market, Ema, Rotisserie Ema, and The Dalcy. With a strong passion for food and operations, Michael has worked for several restaurant groups in multiple cities including Minneapolis, San Diego and Portland.
Starting with Lettuce Entertain You in August 2010, Michael worked at Scoozi in River North, and quickly was promoted to the General Manager. Just three years later, Michael led the opening team at Beatrix River North, a neighborhood coffeehouse and restaurant. After finding success in the concept, Michael became a Partner in August 2015, and has continued to rise with Lettuce Entertain You ever since.
Michael has since been influential in the opening of Beatrix Streeterville, Beatrix Fulton Market, Beatrix Market, Ēma and Rotisserie Ēma. Most recently, Michael led the opening of Aba, a Mediterranean restaurant and rooftop patio featuring a light, California style of cooking and The Dalcy, a 6,000-square foot private event hall in Fulton Market.
Michael oversees daily operations, food quality, and the ongoing training and development of the management team. Working closely with the chef team to facilitate new and creative ideas, Michael is constantly focused on hiring and developing his management teams and growth.
As a Gold Coast resident, he enjoys checking out new bars and restaurants, exploring the city and playing ice hockey. He also enjoys travel, especially visiting his native hometown of Edina, MN., and spending time with family and friends.
In Loving Memory: 1963-2021
John Chiakulas is Corporate Chef of Lettuce Entertain You Enterprises and Chef Partner of Aba, Antico Posto, Beatrix, Beatrix Market, Ēma, Rotisserie Ema, Foodease Market, Foodlife, Mity Nice Grill, L. Woods and The Dalcy.
His journey with LEYE began at Ambria in 1981, rising through the ranks from fish butcher to becoming Executive Chef of Scoozi! when it opened a decade later. His experiences traveling through Italy awakened his imagination and enthusiasm for Italian cooking; these skills translated well to his extensive experience at more than three dozen LEYE restaurants, including Tru, L. Woods and Wildfire.
John was instrumental in the redesign of Foodlife in Water Tower Place and pushed the envelope in developing Foodease into what he now considers a “chef’s playground” because of its diverse offerings. In 2011, he teamed up with the Lettuce Consulting Group to bring his creativity to clients nationwide.
As Chef Partner, John is constantly testing new dishes, updating and perfecting existing items and using his creativity and skill to push the envelope with healthful, yet tasty ingredients. He is always “hungry for more” in his leadership role, and is always thinking how he can bring his current concepts and other projects to the next level.
Partner and Executive Pastry Chef
Yasmin studied Culinary Arts at the Illinois Institute of Art, and quickly realized her passion was in pastry. Looking to gain more experience, she became an intern at the Bittersweet Bakery on the north side of Chicago where she perfected her cookie decorating techniques and learned about traditional, American pastries.
In 2005, Yasmin joined Lettuce Entertain You as a pastry cook at Foodlife in Water Tower Place while also finishing school. Just two years later, Yasmin was promoted to pastry chef, where she also oversaw the pastry programs at both Mity Nice Bar & Grill and Foodease. In 2010, Yasmin furthered her education and pastry knowledge by attending The French Pastry School.
Three years later, Yasmin led the pastry team in the opening of Beatrix River North. She was instrumental in developing the bakery program and menu. In 2015, she was promoted to Executive Pastry Chef and most recently was named Associate Partner. Yasmin now oversees the pastry program at all four Beatrix locations, Beatrix Market, Foodlife, Foodease and Mity Nice Bar & Grill.
Her specialties include cupcake creation and design, coffee cakes and birthday cakes. Outside of the bakery, Yasmin enjoys spending time with her family, traveling and playing soccer.
Rita Dever is Corporate Chef of LEYE and Chef Partner of Beatrix. A native to the Northwest, Rita grew up surrounded by an abundance of natural food and beauty. Her early years as a chef had her traveling all over the world.
Rita completed culinary school in Paris, trained with her mentor, Madeleine Kamman in New Hampshire and opened restaurants in Los Angeles, Maui, New York and Seattle as a Sous Chef at Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts.
In 2008, she came to Chicago and joined LEYE as Corporate Chef. Working closely with Rich Melman in the test kitchen, the two collaborate daily on creating new dishes and innovating existing menus for all LEYE restaurants. It was Rita’s creations in the “Lab” that sparked the fire for Beatrix.
Now, as Chef Partner, her culinary experience has come full circle. Her Pacific Northwest whole-foods mentality drives each dish at Beatrix, bringing a “taste over trend” philosophy and healthful twist to each dish.
Susan is the Chef Partner of Beatrix, Mon Ami Gabi, Café Ba-Ba-Reeba, Stripburger and Community Canteen. Born in Boston, Massachusetts, her passion for food and travel developed early in life when she spent two years traveling in Europe and working at quaint restaurants in the Mediterranean.
After her travels, she spent time working in kitchens in Boston, Houston, Chicago, Toronto and New York. She joined LEYE in 2003 as the Culinary Director for Mon Ami Gabi and Café Ba-Ba-Reeba!
In 2012, she partnered with Marc Jacobs to build LEYE’s newest restaurant, Beatrix. Together, they created Beatrix’s breakfast, lunch and dinner menus with unique ingredients and profiles with many dishes influenced by her past travels.
Partner and Executive Chef
Janet Kirker grew up in Champaign, Illinois and developed a passion for food at a young age while spending time in the kitchen with her mother and grandmothers. Preparing food for holidays and celebrations year after year sparked not only her interest in cooking, but enticed Janet to learn more about the culinary arts.
Janet’s first job in a professional kitchen was as a dishwasher at a local catering company. She eagerly worked up to a cook position and continued growing with the company throughout high school and college, where she received a B.S. in Restaurant Management from the University of Illinois in 1993, and her Culinary Arts degree from The Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, New York in 1995.
After school, Janet joined the team at Chicago’s iconic restaurant, Charlie Trotter’s. She spent most of her time in the pastry department, which led her to be the Assistant Pastry Chef at Danny Meyer’s Contemporary Indian Cuisine restaurant, Tabla, in New York City three years later. From there, Janet broadened her experience in other various positions including the Sous Chef at Café Lucy in Napa, Sous Chef and Executive Chef at Charlie Trotter’s, Trotter’s To-Go, and the Culinary Director at The Chopping Block in Chicago.
In July of 2012, Janet joined Lettuce Entertain You as the Executive Chef at Foodease in Water Tower Place, where she helped expand the concept through menu creation and operations. Three years later, Janet was influential in the opening of Beatrix Market in Streeterville, where as the Executive Chef she brought delicious, healthful and homemade food to the restaurant. Now, Janet is a Partner of Beatrix Market and its four locations throughout Chicago, as well as Foodease.
In her free time, Janet is passionate about all things wine, vacationing, visiting local farmers markets, cooking at home for friends, and spending time with her husband.
John began his restaurant career with Lettuce Entertain You twelve years ago at Di Pescara. Since then, he has gained experience at a number of restaurants within LEYE’s portfolio, including Petterinos, Foodlife, Foodease, and more recently, Beatrix, Beatrix Market and Bar Ramone.
In 2013, John joined the opening management team at Beatrix River North. He was instrumental in the development of the restaurant’s coffee and music programs and also worked with mixologists to create their fresh squeezed juice cocktail menu.
In 2015, John was promoted to General Manager and led the opening team of Beatrix Streeterville. He helped create the first Beatrix Market, a quick grab and go experience, and continues to drive the beverage culture for the Beatrix brand.
Most recently, John assisted with the opening of LEYE’s first wine bar, Bar Ramone.
When John is not in the restaurants, he enjoys going to concerts and spending time with his wife, Jenny and their son, George.
Jordan Arbus grew up in Buffalo Grove, Illinois, and found his passion for restaurants and hospitality at the early age of just 16-years-old. With his first experiences as a host and in carry-out at Wildfire in Lincolnshire, Jordan went on to complete the Lettuce Entertain You internship program at Wildfire Glenview in 2012. Upon graduating from the University of Illinois with a degree in Hospitality Management, Jordan was offered a management position at Wildfire in McLean, Virginia. After four years in Virginia, Jordan returned home to Chicago in July 2017 to continue his journey with LEYE as a manager with the Beatrix brand.
In Spring 2018, Jordan was promoted to General Manager of Beatrix Streeterville. Jordan is eager to bring not only his 10 years of experience in the industry to the team at Beatrix, but to also broaden his knowledge within a new concept and management team. His favorite part of the job is ensuring a positive experience for the guests, building a strong team, and maintaining LEYE’s strong reputation in which he is so proud of.
In his free time, Jordan enjoys spending time with family and friends, watching the Blackhawks, kayaking down the Chicago river and exploring which restaurants have the best chicken fingers!
Hector De Leon
Hector De Leon was born and raised in the Avondale neighborhood of Chicago. Beginning his career in the industry at 19, he managed and operated a local valet company all while attending DePaul University. After returning from Europe and post-graduation, Hector began bartending and specializing in craft cocktails in downtown restaurants.
Hector began with Lettuce Entertain You in 2015 as an Office Manager for Café BaBaReeba and Summer House Santa Monica. In 2017, Hector joined the opening team at Beatrix Fulton Market where he oversees the Beatrix Market, and now is happy to continue to grow the Market at the Streeterville location. His favorite part of the job is the fast pace environment, as well as learning about the operations of a restaurant.
In his free time he enjoys running, snowboarding, grilling and spending time with friends, family and his dog Leonardo.
A Chicago native, Erandy’s passion for the restaurant industry was ignited at the early age of 15 as she worked in a variety of positions in fast food restaurants and cafes around the city. Erandy attended the University of Illinois to study Food Science & Human Nutrition and needed an internship to complete her degree, which led her back to Chicago, and to Lettuce Entertain You. In 2016, Erandy joined LEYE as an intern and continued to grow her culinary skills at Wildfire in Glenview, IL. After obtaining her degree, Erandy was able to stay with the company full-time as a manager, and she transferred to Wildfire Chicago given the opportunity to be downtown permanently.
Excited by the Beatrix concept and seeking a new opportunity, Erandy joined the Beatrix Streeterville team in September, 2018, as a manager. Erandy thrives off the fast-paced environment that allows her to meet and create connections with the guests, as well as with her team.
Outside of Beatrix, Erandy attends as many food and music festivals as possible with her family, fiancé and their dog, Bear.
Santiago grew up in Guerreo, Mexico, where as a young child he was exposed to food culture by taking care of his family’s 200 acre farm. He quickly realized his passion for it as every day he was caring for crops and livestock. When Santiago was just 17-years-old, he moved by himself to Chicago and began working for Lettuce Entertain You as a Dishwasher at Foodlife in Water Tower Place.
In 2015, Santiago transferred to Beatrix Streeterville as a Prep Cook. After hard work and following his passion, four years later Santiago is now the Kitchen Manager. Santiago’s favorite part of the job is getting to work with incredibly talented people and he loves having the ability to help wherever he can!
In Santiago’s free time, he enjoys trying other restaurants in Chicago and spending time with his wife.
Lisa grew up in Arlington Heights, IL and graduated from Buffalo Grove High School in 2005. Lisa initially attended Michigan State University for veterinary science, however, she quickly realized her passion for the culinary world and returned to Chicago in 2007 to pursue a degree in Culinary Arts at Kendall College. Lisa immediately began working in different restaurants across Chicago, including a scratch Italian restaurant located near her dorm, A Mano, which quickly hired her full time and jump-started her career.
Over the next few years, Lisa became skilled in the kitchen as she moved between two restaurants, A Mano and Bin 36, and worked in a hotel banquet kitchen, previously known as Hotel Sax. Lisa’s career continued to flourish after graduating with a B.A. in Culinary Arts in 2011, as she introduced signature dishes to Chicago favorites such as Atwood, Au Cheval, River Roast, Jake Melnick’s and Ravinia Festival in Highland Park.
In 2018, Lisa joined Lettuce Entertain You as a Sous Chef at Beatrix Streeterville. At Beatrix, Lisa loves the fast-paced nature of the restaurant and using feedback and communication from the guest to inspire new dishes for the menu.
During her free time, Lisa attends as many sporting events as she can, both as a spectator and participant, and enjoys outdoor activities with her husband, dog and rabbit.
Divisional Training Director
Sharlene Hobbs grew up in southern California, and went to school in both Santa Barbara and San Diego with a focus on becoming a teacher. Upon graduation, Sharlene realized her true passion was in the restaurant industry, and joined the team at Rock Bottom Brewery in 2000. Seven years later, Sharlene moved to Chicago to be the Assistant Manager at Rock Bottom in the Windy City.
In 2009, Sharlene joined the Lettuce Entertain You Family as a server at RJ Grunts in Lincoln Park. Just one year later, she was promoted to a divisional trainer for various concepts including Foodlife, Mity Nice Bar & Grill, Foodease, Scoozi, Beatrix and Ema. Now, Sharlene is the Divisional Training Director for more than ten restaurant concepts and is vital in new restaurant openings, staff seminars and outings, and the on-going development of current employees. With a true love for building the training department as the division continues to grow, her favorite part of the job is working with new team members, and being the first impression of a company she is so proud to be a part of.
When Sharlene is not in the restaurant, she enjoys reading, trying new restaurants, traveling, visiting her family, and spending time with friends.
Director of Marketing and Communications
Growing up in Long Grove, Illinois, Cara has always had a passion for food, writing, and technology, and knew she wanted to pursue a career one day that would entail all of those elements. Graduating in 2012 from Indiana University in Bloomington, IN., with a degree in Journalism and Business, she began her PR and marketing journey at a Chicago public relations agency focusing on restaurants and local businesses.
Realizing that her true passion and excitement was in restaurants, while also ready for more growth and opportunity, Cara joined the Lettuce Entertain You family in the summer of 2015. Since then, Cara has been a part of eight restaurant openings, and proudly oversees the marketing and public relations for Aba, Antico Posto, Bar Ramone, Beatrix, Beatrix Market, Ēma, Rotisserie Ēma, Foodlife, Foodease, L. Woods, Mity Nice Bar & Grill, and The Dalcy. Her favorite part of the job is how every day is different, as well as having the opportunity to express her creativity across multiple different brands that she truly believes in.
In her free time, Cara loves checking out new restaurants around the city, traveling, going to concerts, and spending time with family and friends.