Our Team

Marc Jacobs

Executive Partner and Divisional President

Marc Jacobs is the President and Partner of Aba, Antico Posto, Bar Ramone, Beatrix, Beatrix Market, Ēma, Rotisserie Ēma, Foodease, Foodlife, L. Woods, Mity Nice Bar & Grill and The Dalcy.

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 14 years as Partner at LEYE, he has led the creation, design and re-concept of more than 16 restaurants across Chicagoland including 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, Ēma; a Mediterranean and California-inspired restaurant with Top Chef CJ Jacobson, Aba; the sister restaurant to Ēma, featuring a 400-seat restaurant and rooftop patio, The Dalcy; LEYE’s private event hall in Fulton Market, and Bar Ramone; a wine bar featuring Spanish tapas.

Marc’s passion lies in restaurant design, menu development, and team building. His restaurants and chefs have earned many accolades including a Michelin Bib Gourmand recognition as well as a spot on Chicago’s top restaurant lists from Zagat, Eater and the Chicago Tribune.

Marc sits on Lettuce Entertain You’s Executive Board, is an Advisory Council member and the Executive in Residence at DePaul’s School of Hospitality Leadership, often speaks on restaurant panels and seminars, and enjoys giving back to the restaurant and hospitality industry in Chicago.

Marc enjoys spending time with his wife Vanessa and their three children, Samantha, Alexandra and Gabriel, visiting new restaurants, and traveling.

Michael Giles


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.

John Chiakulas

Chef Partner

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.


Yasmin Gutierrez

Partner & 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

Chef Partner

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 Weaver

Chef Partner

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.

John Economos


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.

Luis Aguilar

General Manager

Luis Aguilar grew up in northwest Chicago, and started in the hospitality industry at the young age of 15-years-old. Following in his father’s footsteps, he got his start at Bryn Mawr Country Club in Lincolnwood, Il. Five years later, Luis joined the Lettuce family at L.Woods where he worked various positions including host, bartender, and server. In 2012, he participated in the Lettuce Entertain You Internship to continue to learn about the industry and for continued growth. At the end of the summer, his team proudly took first place in the Restaurant Expo Competition.

After being a part of the management team at L.Woods, Luis joined the Beatrix River North team in July 2017, and was promoted to General Manager in Spring 2018. His favorite part of the job is meeting new people and working alongside a diverse crowd full of different backgrounds, likes, dislikes, and personalities. It has helped him not only learn about himself, but most importantly learning to care for others.

In Luis’ free time, he is a musician and plays the drums for a local band, Stoop Goodnoise. He loves discovering new music and traveling back to hear classics.

Omar Chavez


Omar Chavez was born in Mexico, and moved to America in 1990 where he joined Lettuce Entertain You as a dishwasher and line cook at Tucci Benucch. Nine years later, Omar was promoted to Sous Chef, and quickly after to Chef at Wildfire in Chicago and Lincolnshire. Finding his way back to the city in 2011, Omar was Chef at Paris Club, Hub51, and was a part of the opening team at Beatrix in River North.

Omar’s favorite part of being a Chef at Beatrix is getting involved in cooking and teaching others, while also staying busy and focused. His favorite Beatrix menu items are the Skirt Steak Chimichurri and Tuna Crudo.

When Omar is out of the kitchen, he likes to spend time with his two sons, bike, and cook.

Patrick Firmender

Sous Chef

Originally from New Milford, Connecticut, Patrick first started working in the restaurant industry at the age of 15 as a chef’s apprentice for a fine dining restaurant in Milford, Conn. Knowing that being in the kitchen was his true passion, Patrick enrolled in The Culinary Institute of America, where he accepted an internship with Martha’s Vineyard at Swordfish Enterprises. Upon graduation in 2013, Patrick moved to Aspen, Colorado to work at Element 47. After gaining experience in Aspen, Patrick moved back to the east coast and worked as a head Line Cook for Taverna Banfi and The Regent Lounge in the Statler Hotel. Two years later, he was promoted to Sous Chef of both restaurants, as well as the hotel’s in-room dining service.

In 2018, and looking for a new opportunity, Patrick moved to Chicago and joined Lettuce Entertain You as the Sous Chef at Beatrix River North. His favorite part of the job is being presented with new challenges and situations daily.

During his free time, Patrick enjoys trying new restaurants around Chicago and working on his garden.

Elyse Fuller


Elyse Fuller is originally from Chicago and first started working in the restaurant industry at the age of 16. While working her first job as a server at IHOP, Elyse developed a strong passion for restaurants and knew she wanted to learn more about the industry. She attended college, while also working part-time as a bartender at The Cubby Bear. After a few years, Elyse was promoted to a manager and her restaurant career officially launched.

In 2009, and looking for the next opportunity, Elyse joined Lettuce Entertain You Enterprises. She first worked as a manager at Petterino’s and Do Rite Donuts, and four years later joined the management team at Nacional 27 and Tallboy Taco. Now, Elyse is proud to be a manager at Beatrix River North.

In her free time, Elyse enjoys traveling, trying new restaurants and dining around Chicago.

Evan Fuller


Evan moved to Chicago in 2007 after studying theatre at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. After pursuing a career onstage for several years, he began working for Sunda in River North and quickly transitioned into a career in food and beverage. He worked as lead server and service captain before eventually accepting a role within the management team.

In the summer of 2018, Evan joined the Lettuce Entertain You family alongside his fiancé Andrea who has been with Joe’s Seafood for nearly five years, as a manager at Beatrix in River North. His philosophies about restaurants stem from “if you make your guests into friends, you’ll always look forward to going into work!”

In his free time, Evan enjoys attending concerts and adding to his vinyl collection of more than 1,500 LPs.

Joe Haas


Joe Haas was born and raised in Orlando, Florida. In 2014, Joe started as a bartender at the Lobby bar in Hilton Doubletree at SeaWorld. Knowing he wanted to work in this field, Joe graduated with a bachelor degree from The University of Central Florida’s Rosen School of Hospitality Management in 2016.

Joe joined the Lettuce Entertain You team in January 2018 and is excited about his role as a Manager at Beatrix in River North. Aside from his daily responsibilities, Joe loves expanding his food palette and trying new dishes.

In his free time, Joe coaches Special Olympics soccer, basketball and softball. He also enjoys traveling, going to the beach, and building computers with his friends.

Kendall Zusman


Growing up in Vernon Hills, IL, Kendall knew at a young that she had a passion for both food and hospitality. She remembers growing up spending hours in her family kitchen baking cookies, pies and cakes for family and friends. Pursuing her passions, Kendall graduated from The Culinary Institute of America in 2014, and held roles at the bakery in Mariano’s and as a pastry cook at Sweet Mandy B’s Bakery in Lincoln Park where she perfected her pastry skills and taught pastry decorating classes.

Looking for growth and wanting to utilize her love for restaurants and teaching others, Kendall joined the Lettuce Entertain Team as an intern at Café Ba Ba Reeba in Lincoln Park in Summer 2017. After falling in love with the pace of a busy restaurant, meeting new guests everyday, and learning about the business, Kendall was ready for more! Now, she is a manager at Beatrix River North and focuses on coaching, problem solving, supporting her team, and giving her guests the best experience possible.

In her free time, she loves checking out new restaurants and bars and keeping up with all of the new food trends Chicago has to offer. She also loves spending time with friends, family and her dog Fallon!


Cara Yaffe

Director of Marketing & 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.

Sharlene Hobbs

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.

Elsa Lucas

Sales and Catering Manager

Originally from Oak Park, IL, Elsa Lucas started working in the restaurants at just 15-years-old when she was a host at Avenue Ale House in Oak Park. After high school, she moved to Chicago to attend DePaul University where she studied English and Sociology. During this time, she continued to gain restaurant experience worked at Maya Del Sol, a Latin fusion restaurant in Oak Park.

Knowing that food and the restaurant industry was her passion, Elsa joined Lettuce Entertain You in 2012 as a host and office assistant at RPM Italian. In 2013, she joined the opening team at Beatrix River North as an office manager, and continued in this role as Beatrix Streeterville, Ēma and Beatrix Fulton Market opened in the three years that followed. Now, Elsa is the Sales and Catering Manager for Beatrix, Beatrix Market, Bar Ramone, Ēma and Rotisserie Ēma where she proudly executes and plans special events and catering for large groups. Her favorite part of the job is forming new relationships daily and making sure clients get exactly what they want.

In her free time, Elsa loves to spend time with her dog Quinn and husband, Kevin. She also enjoys working out and running, as well as checking out new bars and restaurants in the city with her girl friends.


Krista Rominger

Sales & 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, Bar Ramone, 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.

Nicole Taylor

Office Manager

Nicole was born in the suburbs of Chicago, and grew up with a love of food from her predominantly Italian heritage. She attend Lawrence University in Appleton, Wisconsin to study music and theatre. Upon graduation in 2006, Nicole followed her passion and roots in restaurants, and moved to Chicago where she began her journey with Lettuce Entertain You.

Nicole joined the opening carry-out team at DiPescara where she oversaw the entire process, and also worked as a host, bar back, busser and food runner before joining the Reel Club team as a Line Cook. In 2010, she went to Foodlife in Water Tower Place and joined the office team. Since then, she has been a vital part of the office team at restaurants including Beatrix Streeterville, Antico Posto, Mity Nice and is now the Office Manager at Beatrix River North.

Her favorite part of the job is working with the staff, the occasional challenges, and how everyday is different! When Nicole isn’t at the restaurant, she spends her time visiting the zoo, arboretum, museums or brunching with her husband, daughter and dog.