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.
Terry Lawler was born and raised in Chicago, and attended college at nearby Purdue University in Indiana. He first started in restaurants as a busser at a small family restaurant in the south suburbs, which would ultimately launch his career in the hospitality industry.
In 2000, Terry joined the Lettuce Entertain You family as a manager at L.Woods Tap & Pine Lodge in Lincolnwood, Illinois. After gaining experience in the restaurant, Terry was promoted to General Manager at Tucci Benucch, and returned back to L.Woods as the General Manager. In 2018, Terry was promoted to the Divisional Supervisor of L.Woods and Antico Posto and now also oversees Beatrix Oak Brook. His favorite part of the job is working with his team and continuously growing and developing those around him.
When Terry is not in the restaurants, he enjoys spending time with his wife and five kids – Maddie, Tommy, Brendan, Scarlett and Emmett. In the summer, he spends his time in Michigan golfing, grilling and relaxing on the lake.
A Chicago native, Mike was born in the west suburbs of Chicago before his family settled in Dallas, TX, where he discovered his appreciation for the restaurant industry. At just 15 years old, Mike spent a year working as a cashier at McDonald’s and enjoyed the fast-paced nature of the kitchen. Three years later, he returned to restaurants where he was a server at TGI Fridays. He quickly transitioned to being a bartender, and improved his skills behind the bar for the next two years before taking a bartending job at The Cheesecake Factory. There, Mike became a pivotal member of the team by assisting as the lead bartender at new store openings. After eight years at The Cheesecake Factory and looking for a new challenge, Mike went on to manage at various restaurants throughout Chicago including Martini Park, Rockit Bar & Grill, and Front Burner Restaurant Group.
Looking to become part of the Lettuce Entertain You family, Mike joined the Hub 51 team in 2015 and was quickly promoted to General Manager, before coming to Beatrix in 2019. Mike’s favorite part of being the General Manager at Beatrix is how every day is different, and he loves working with the team to constantly improve processes throughout the restaurant.
In his free time, Mike loves to practice Krav Maga and spend time with his wife, three daughters, and 2 rescue dogs.
Assistant General Manager
Melissa Santiago grew up in Berwyn, Illinois and spent a lot of time with her family dining out and trying new restaurants together. She attended University of Illinois at Chicago and graduated in 2000 with a degree in Business Management. Over time, Melissa found interest in different types of cuisine and restaurant operations, which led her to working as a server at Bar Louie in 2003. After 11 years at Bar Louie and Primebar, she went on to experience other restaurants including Prasino and Weber Grill.
Looking for more growth, Melissa joined the Lettuce Entertain You team in January 2018 as a Manager at Antico Posto in Oak Brook. Most recently, she joined the opening team at Beatrix Oak Brook where she is the Assistant General Manager. She enjoys working with her team and making sure each guest has an excellent experience.
In her free time, Melissa enjoys going to the movies and spending time with her friends and family. She also likes dining out and exploring different cuisines.
Ismael Morales was born and raised in the Chicago area. He was first introduced to the restaurant industry when he was 16-years-old when he joined the Lettuce Entertain You team as a host at Big Bowl, located in Schaumburg. During his time at Big Bowl, he worked many different positions including Host, Food Runner, Server and Bartender. In 2015, Ismael had the opportunity to participate in Lettuce Entertain You’s internship program at Wildfire in Oak Brook and was promoted to Manager shortly after he completed the internship.
In October of 2018, Ismael joined the Beatrix River North team as a Manager. After learning about the Beatrix brand, he joined the opening team at Beatrix Oak Brook and has been there since. Ismael is excited about working with a great team and enjoys learning from the other managers, employees and partners.
In Ismael’s free time, he enjoys playing soccer, camping, hiking and playing pool.
Elemuel Haro was born and raised in Jalisco, Mexico, and got his first job in the restaurant business in 1986 where he was a dishwasher. In 1988, Elemuel moved to Chicago looking for more opportunity and growth.
In 2000, Elemuel joined the Lettuce Entertain You team, and has been a Sous Chef with the company for more than 19 years. Most recently, he joined the opening team at Beatrix Oak Brook, the fourth location of the neighborhood coffeehouse and restaurant. His favorite part of the job is cooking – he has always had a passion for it, and is grateful that he gets to do what he loves everyday.
When he’s not in the kitchen, he loves to play soccer.
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.
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.
Sales and Catering Manager
Krista joined the Lettuce Entertain You family in 2014 as an office manager in the Lettuce Parties & Special Events department. Originally from Naperville, and a graduate of Illinois State, Krista has grown up surrounded by the Chicago restaurant scene. Krista has learned so much about what it means to find the perfect space and atmosphere for a client and is excited to be sharing her expertise in special events at Beatrix, Beatrix Market, Ēma and Rotisserie Ēma.
As a sales and catering manager, Krista is able to utilize some of her strongest qualities – organization, planning, and execution of special events. Krista enjoys meeting new faces, forming relationships, and creating memorable experiences for guests.
In her free time, Krista loves to weekend brunch, attend sporting events, and spend time with her friends and family. Krista currently resides in West Town with her boyfriend and dog.