Executive Partner and Divisional President
Marc Jacobs is the President and Partner of Antico Posto, Beatrix, Ema, Foodease, Foodlife, L. Woods and Mity Nice Bar & Grill.
Marc began his career with Lettuce Entertain You in the fall of 1991, as a banquet server and busser at Bones (now L. Woods). After being cross-trained as a server, host and line cook, he was offered the opportunity to go through management training upon his graduation from UIC in the summer of 1995.
Two years later, Marc was transferred to R.J. Grunts, and was quickly promoted to general manager where he worked side by side with Rich Melman on the re-development of the restaurant.
From 2001 to 2015, Marc was imperative in the development and re-concepting of Antico Posto, Foodlife, Mity Nice Bar & Grill and L.Woods. He also oversaw and led the opening process from beginning to end at Di Pescara, Foodease Market, Beatrix River North and Streeterville, and Bea’s Market, a fast casual market.
Now, Marc is thrilled to be combining his passion for food and design with his vast experience in restaurants in his latest concept, Ema, a Mediterranean restaurant featuring a light, California style of cooking in River North.
In his free time, Marc enjoys spending time with his wife Vanessa and their three children, traveling, and visiting new restaurants.
Michael Giles is a Partner of Beatrix River North, Beatrix Streeterville, Beatrix Fulton Market, and Ēma. With a strong passion for food and operations, Michael has worked for several restaurant groups in multiple cities including Minneapolis, San Diego, Portland and now in Chicago.
Michael started at Lettuce Entertain You in August 2010 where he was a part of the Scoozi team. He quickly became the General Manager, and just three years later, Michael led the opening team at Beatrix River North. Finding success in the concept, Michael was influential in the opening of its second location in Streeterville in October 2015. Just eight months later, Michael is now the Partner of said restaurants, in addition to Ēma, a Mediterranean and California-inspired restaurant in River North.
Michael oversees daily operations, food quality and 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 in all three concepts.
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 in Minnesota, and spending time with family and friends.
John Chiakulas is Corporate Chef of LEYE and Chef Partner of Antico Posto, Beatrix, Ema, Foodease Market, Foodlife, Mity Nice Grill and L. Woods!
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 many 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.
John is now the Chef Partner of Beatrix and was here for every step of its creation. He is “hungry for more” in his leadership role, always thinking of how he can bring Beatrix and his other projects to the next level.
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.
Associate 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 grandmother. 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 Trotters. 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, 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, where she helped expand the concept through menu creation and operations. Janet was also influential in the 2015 opening of Beatrix Market, where as the Executive Chef she brought delicious, healthful and homemade food to the restaurant. Beatrix Market will be opening its third location in summer of 2017.
In her free time, Janet is passionate about all things wine, vacationing, visiting local farmers markets, and spending time with her husband.
Associate 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 three 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.
Born and raised in Mexico City, Ruben Lopez first moved to the United States when he was 9-years-old, and has been living in Chicago ever since. He got his start in restaurants as a dishwasher at a French bistro in Oak Park. Within just six months, he moved up to Garde Manger and eventually a pastry chef.
Ruben joined Lettuce Entertain You in 2014, as a grill cook at Beatrix River North. Working his way up to expo just a year later, he was quickly promoted to kitchen manager. His favorite part of the job is learning from other chefs and teaching what he has learned to the other employees.
In his free time he enjoys trying new restaurants, working on cars, playing sports, and spending time with family.
Rigoberto Tapia was born in Mexico, and moved to Chicago when he was just 8-months-old. After being introduced to the restaurant industry at a young age as his father worked at various Lettuce Entertain You restaurants, Rigo knew he wanted to follow in his father’s footsteps.
Rigo joined Lettuce Entertain You when he was just 19-years-old where he spent six years at Scoozi! as a line cook. After working alongside many experienced chefs and mentors, his love and passion for the kitchen continued to grow. Rigo came to Beatrix in January 2014 seeking more knowledge and experience, and was promoted to Kitchen Manager at Beatrix in River North one year later. After spending time at Beatrix’s sister restaurant, Ēma, for more than a year, Rigo is excited to be back at Beatrix as Kitchen Manager.
When Rigo is out of the kitchen, he can be found enjoying the outdoors, vacationing, and spending time with his wife.
Originally from Long Island, New York and a graduate of The University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, Steven is excited to be in Chicago to continue his career with Lettuce Entertain You. Steven’s restaurant experience first dates back to his completion of the Management Internship with Restaurant Associates, to his time at La Bottega at the Maritime Hotel in New York City’s Meatpacking District. Steven moved to Chicago to begin his career with LEYE in 2013, where he was a summer intern at Foodease Market in Water Tower Place. Just a year later, Steven joined the management team at Beatrix, and is now proud to be the General Manager of the River North neighborhood restaurant.
Steven is passionate about restaurants, and loves the fast paced environment and meeting new people everyday. His favorite Beatrix menu items are the Mushroom & Quinoa Burger, Oh My! Caramel Pie and the Pineapple-Habanero Margarita.
Outside of work, you can find Steven trying new restaurants, learning about music, attending concerts and of course, cooking.
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 has joined the Beatrix River North team. 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 love discovering new music and traveling back to hear classics.
Born and raised in a small farm town in Southern Indiana, Eric Howard grew up in a family where food was the focus during family affairs and gatherings. Constantly surrounded by homemade recipes that had been handed down from generations of family cooks, his passion for the culinary world continued to grow year after year.
Eric’s first job at a restaurant was at the young age of 14 in a small country kitchen where he was a dishwasher and busser. Five years later, Eric put his restaurant experience on hold to attend Ball State University to study film and learn more about the hospitality industry. After graduating in 2009, he spent time in both Indianapolis and Chicago where he was a server, bartender and barista in various restaurants and bars.
Six years later, Eric is thrilled to be a part of the Lettuce Entertain You family as a Manager at Beatrix. His favorite part of the job is working with a staff that shares his passion for serving others while also being influenced by their hard work each and every day.
In his free time, Eric enjoys listening to great jazz music, brewing beer and experiencing the large local food scene that Chicago has to offer with his friends and family.
Angela Smurawa grew up in Appleton, WI., where her love for the restaurant industry began when she was just 15-years-old. After moving to Chicago in 2007, she managed a hair salon in Evanston for five years where she furthered her professional growth and management skills.
In August 2014, Angela knew she wanted to get back in the restaurant world where she would be surrounded by energy and excitement. After having brunch at Beatrix one morning, she found herself as their new host and then server just a few weeks later.
As a manager of Beatrix, Angela loves being able to combine her passion for food while connecting and caring for people. She especially finds the positive reaction from guests, and the health conscious yet innovative menu options tremendously exciting to be part of.
When Angela isn’t at the restaurant, she loves to entertain friends and family at her home, traveling, and cooking.
Divisional Marketing & PR Manager
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, and also ready for more growth and opportunity, Cara joined the Lettuce Entertain You family in the summer of 2015. Now, Cara proudly oversees the marketing and public relations for Antico Posto, Beatrix, Beatrix Market, Ema, Foodlife, Foodease, L. Woods, Mity Nice Bar & Grill, and Rotisserie Ema. 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.
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.
Being a part of the Beatrix team is very exciting for Krista. She is able to focus on 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 nearby Beatrix, in Chicago’s River North.
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 eight 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.
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.