The foundation of The Fifty/50 Restaurant Group since 2008, Martin Arellano is a partner in Roots Handmade Pizza as well as the original Fifty/50. Joining the Fifty/50 as a prep cook in 2008, Martin quickly became a sous chef, executive chef, and finally a partner in the group. His hard work and determination, as well as attention to systems and operations, has made Martin an integral reason behind the success of Roots Handmade Pizza.
Embracing his talents in the kitchen, Martin immersed himself fully in the food and beverage industry, working at restaurants his entire life such as Spiaggia, Joe’s Stone Crab, and other Lettuce Entertain You concepts. His talents were recognized very early on at the Fifty/50 and his warm and endearing personality helped formed the foundation of the Fifty/50 Restaurant Group and is a key component behind their fast growth.
Martin is also married with two children and a third on the way to his dearest “Amoonda”. He looks forward to working on the 3rd Roots Handmade Pizza in 2018 while continuing to oversee and support the current Roots and original Fifty/50.
A native of Naperville, Christo began his culinary journey at a very young age cooking with his father for church functions, large Greek family events, and then ultimately at their families restaurant, Poor Boys Pub. There he got his first taste of a professional kitchen and became hooked. Christo enrolled in Kendall College where he worked in the school’s events department as the Junior Sous Chef where he executed high-end events with some of the most decorated chefs in Chicago
After graduating, Christo took a position at the Peninsula hotel where he worked in all departments of the kitchen from breakfast to dinner. He further challenged himself and became the Chef de Cuisine at Sociale in the South Loop where he opened the property along with the neighboring cafe for the restaurant group.
He started with the Fifty/50 Restaurant group as the opening Sous Chef for Portsmith, a seafood restaurant that was located in River North. Christo was promoted to Chef de cuisine and then ultimately moved forward in the company to help lead the transition of VU Rooftop to the Fifty/50 repertoire. He is now a Divisional Executive Chef for the group where he oversees multiple properties that include The Berkshire room, Roots Handmade Pizza in Printers Row and VU Rooftop.
Literally born into the industry, Mohr grew up in Rock Island, Illinois watching the success of the liquor store his great grandfather founded. Becoming one of the highest grossing liquor stores in Illinois, the Mohr family expanded the concept into three bars and a deli. Working in the deli since he was eight, Mohr continued working in the “Quad Cities’” restaurant scene throughout high school and college. Kicking off his professional career, he joined Gibsons Restaurant Group as a server at Hugo’s Frog Bar & Fish House, eventually becoming an Assistant General Manager. Helping the restaurant accrue nearly $20 million in yearly sales, he then moved to the iconic Gibsons in Chicago, working directly with Owners Steve Lombardo and Hugo Ralli. In pursuit of further experience, Mohr became the AGM of Joe’s Seafood, Prime Steak and Stone and eventually moving up to GM. Joe’s became one of the best steakhouses in the country, expanding its annual sales from $16 million to $22 million. After working with the group for years, Mohr saw an opportunity to launch his own restaurant with Scott Weiner, whom he met during both of their work at Joe’s. Launching The Fifty/50, the group’s namesake concept in 2008, the pair realized their combined strengths and passions and began expanding their group.
Now the owner and co-founder of The Fifty/50 Restaurant Group, Greg focuses on new concept design & development along with many other day-to-day functions in operating and expanding the restaurant group.
Weiner — a Northbrook, IL, native — traces his love and passion for the restaurant business back to taking his first job as a server at Johnny Rockets as a teenager. Working at a variety of other restaurants in the North Shore, Scott focused his career towards the hospitality industry at an early age.
After graduating high school from Glenbrook North, Scott spent four years in various capacities with China Grill Management in Las Vegas while simultaneously earning his bachelor’s degree in hospitality administration with a major in beverage management from the University of Nevada Las Vegas.
While in college, Scott also earned his sommelier license through the Court of Master Sommeliers, and used his talents to develop the wine and spirits program at one of the China Grill properties in Las Vegas.
Prior to opening The Fifty/50 with business partner Greg Mohr in March 2008, Scott was the assistant general manager at Joe’s Seafood, Prime Steak, and Stone Crab in Chicago where he focused on food purchasing and menu development.
Today, Scott is mainly on the day-to-day operations of the Fifty/50 Restaurant Group with a focus on developing the group’s infrastructure, systems, and marketing program. Scott also sits on the executive board for the Illinois Restaurant Association and actively oversees all legal, bank, and financial areas of the business.
Originally from Germany, Simon and his family immigrated to the United States when he was a child, making Chicago their new home. Simon spent his teenage years in Urbana, Illinois, where, working as a server in a local restaurant, he was introduced to the hospitality industry. Simon was drawn to the idea that, by providing a meal and gracious service, one had the opportunity to create an instant bond with a complete stranger, and that could ultimately turn into a lasting memory for them.
After studying hospitality management at Eastern Illinois University, Simon returned to Chicago and began his career with Hornblower Cruises, a dinner cruise company, with operations at Chicago’s Navy Pier. Over the next seven years, Simon held several managerial positions with Hornblower, expanding his scope with each new position.
In 2017 Simon decided to seek out a more traditional restaurant opportunity and joined the team at Joe’s Seafood, Prime Steak, and Stone Crab, a Lettuce-Entertain-You restaurant.. It was here that he met and worked under John Aldape, a current member of the Fifty/50 leadership team. Through this relationship, Simon joined the Fifty/50 Group in the summer of 2020 as a Divisional Operations Manager where he oversees concepts located in Piper’s Alley, an Old Town institution, as well as VU Rooftop in the South Loop.
Simon comes from a family of business operators, tracing back to his great grandmother who opened her own bed & breakfast in 1932. From them, he learned that the cornerstone to success is positive attitude and relentless effort. “I’m constantly surrounded by people who know more about the industry than I do, and I love that, because it means I’m constantly learning. Almost everything you need to know about the world of hospitality can be taught, except for attitude and effort. You can’t teach tha, that comes from within” he says. Nowadays, Simon is still driven by that same sense of opportunity, that every day we have the chance to create new bonds and lasting memories with our guests. “The COVID-19 pandemic taught us how important it is for us to have a sense of connection with our community. Restaurants play a vital role in building that connection, they are pillars of our communities”
Coated in flour for as long as he can remember, The Fifty/50 Restaurant Group’s Executive Pastry Chef & Partner, Chris Teixeira, infuses simplicity with intricacy in his delicious pastry programs while overseeing the culinary team for the restaurant group. Overseeing the growth and development of the restaurant group’s program, Teixeira pairs exceptional food with sincere service. Chris is a Certified Master Bakery & Certified Executive Pastry Chef through the renowned ACF.
Prior to his professional career, Teixeira received his degree in Baking and Pastry Arts from the Culinary Institute of America in 2007. Three years later, he earned a degree from the Culinary Institute of America in New York with a concentration in Hospitality Management and spent two years there as a fellow/teaching assistant, focusing on pastries and breads. Moving into the professional world, Teixeira was the Pastry Chef de Partie at the four-star dining landmark Sixteen at Trump International Hotel & Tower Chicago.
The son of Portuguese immigrants, Teixeira’s first memories of baking were of his mother, who worked in the same bakery for 25 years and sparked his interest in pastry creation. Named one of five “Under-the-radar pastry chefs whose names you ought to know” by Chicago Tribune’s Phil Vettel in 2013 and included on Zagat’s “30 under 30” list in 2014, Teixeira created major successes at The Fifty/50 Group such as West Town Bakery’s “Doughssant” and reworked versions of Chicago’s iconic Baby Ruth candy.
A James Beard Award semifinalist in the “Rising Star Chef of the Year” category for his work at Homestead On The Roof in 2015, Teixeira believes in keeping it simple and local, letting nature tell him what ingredient is best. Focusing on simple variations without muddling dishes with excess ingredients, Teixeira presents menu items in a new and exciting way, using technology only to enhance natural flavors.
With professional inspirations including Chef Curtis Duffy, Chef Carrie Nahabedian, and his former pasty chefs, Teixeira respects their understanding that overnight success stories are usually years in the making and their dedication to growing with the times to ensure relevancy. Foreseeing more shared concepts in restaurants and a gravitation towards luxe breads, Teixeira sees that in today’s world, people are more interested in where their food is originating. When not mixing up masterpieces for The Fifty/50 Group, Teixeira can be found traveling somewhere new, reading cookbooks, or watching PBS history documentaries.
Mark Braver brings 30 years of experience in the hospitality industry to The Fifty/50 Restaurant Group. Mark began his career in his hometown of State College, Pennsylvania as a bar back and is proud of the fact that he has remained close with the people he cut his teeth with in the business all those years ago. His management portfolio includes leadership positions at major hospitality groups in Chicago, Philadelphia and New York City, including General Manager for 2 James Beard Award Winning Best Restaurateurs.
Mark has directed more than 30 restaurant openings from concept development through profitable operation. He is an expert in all areas of restaurant and bar operations including financial forecasting, formulating business plans and establishing proven operational systems with sustainability and profitability as cornerstones. He has extensive major market experience developing people and implementing food and beverage programs, training programs, operations and human resources guidelines, cloud-based electronic technologies, and design/construction.
Mark holds a Bachelors of Arts from Penn State University and resides with his family in Chicago
Born and raised in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Betsy relocated to Orlando, Florida for college where she would achieve a bachelor’s degree in Marketing at the University of Central Florida and begin her career. Her professional experience spans 12 years and includes marketing, project management, and social media strategy for such companies as NBC Sports, Nutella, Publix Super Markets, Golf Channel, Hilton Grand Vacations, and many Chicago area businesses on behalf of our city’s tourism bureau. In addition to her professional marketing career, she also worked part-time in the hospitality field for 15 years – most notably in service and FOH training for Walt Disney World, gaining a full understanding, belief and expertise in the “hospitality first” way of service and life.
Some of Betsy’s career highlights include implementing social media television integration at Golf Channel, producing a live social media interview segment with Tiger Woods at NBC Sports, producing video content for Kinder Joy at The Oscars, and creating social and commercial content with Benny the Bull to promote Chicago’s two international airports ahead of NBA All-Star Weekend 2020.
Betsy is a lover of Pittsburgh sports, music, reading, socializing, and all animals – particularly her two dogs, Chewy and Brutus.
John Aldape started in the restaurant business in 1994 as a line cook at a Chicago style pizzeria at the age of 16 in his hometown, South Bend, IN. He was taught the importance of food quality. His manager told him “Guests are willing to pay more for the best, so it has to be great.” He progressed through each position in the back of the house to shift supervisor.
In 1996, John attended Indiana University Bloomington. In 1997, John became a line cook at a local restaurant, Malibu Grill, to help pay his way through school. He quickly learned every position in the kitchen and became a shift supervisor. In 1999, John began serving and bartending and learned that he truly enjoyed interacting with guests.
John moved to Chicago in the fall of 2001, and began working at R.J. Grunts as a server and bartender. During training he realized that this was a different kind of company, learning Rich Melman’s story and his philosophy of making guests and staff happy. In 2003, John took his first managerial job at Papagus in Oak Brook. In 2004, he transferred to Joe’s Seafood, Prime Steak & Stone Crab in Chicago.
John credits the late Michael Waugh for influencing his management style. Michael’s hospitable nature was evident and on display in every person who worked at Joe’s and lives on today. John was promoted to General Manager at Joe’s in the fall of 2007. In that role he focused on generating sales and maintaining growth and consistency in “best in class” food and service and developing his management team and continuing to support the Joe’s service staff. In 2013, John was promoted to Partner with Joe’s and Lettuce Entertain You. At that point the focus shifted to opening Joe’s Seafood, Prime Steak & Stone Crab in Washington, D.C., which opened at the beginning of 2014.
John left Joe’s and LEYE at the beginning of 2017 to join The Fifty/50 Restaurant Group as a Partner. He currently oversees multiple properties and mentors the management teams across the group.
In his free time John enjoys spending time with his wife, Lindsay, and his two kids.
Matt Miller brings 15 years of hospitality experience to the Fifty/50 Restaurant Group. Service, as a form of employment, began for Matt at the young age of 12 when he got his first job as a golf caddie. He went on to earn the prestigious Evans Scholarship and studied at the University of Michigan. It was there in Ann Arbor that Matt fell into the clutches of the restaurant business and never looked back. He enjoyed a career with Applebee’s International for 9 years, working his way from a server/bartender to that of General Manager.
Matt discovered the Chicago restaurant scene in 2008, then took an 8-year detour in sales, but landed back in the Windy City in 2016. Not long after that he joined the opening team for Roots Handmade Pizza and Utopian Tailgate as Assistant General Manager of both concepts. After 6 months with the Fifty/50 Group Matt joined a task force to turn around operations at the group’s namesake restaurant & bar. Within a few months Matt took the seat as GM of the Fifty/50 Sports Bar and has helped guide this property to success. Matt bleeds hospitality and is a servant leader to the core.
Matt resides in Chicago with his wife, Erin, and their pup Ollie.
Amanda Peters joined The Fifty/50 Restaurant Group in 2021 bringing 23 years of experience in the hospitality industry. She started her career at 15 years old at a fast casual restaurant in the Northwest suburbs. As soon as she stepped in the door, she knew that this was her path. From there she worked as a server, bartender and eventually went into management.
In 2007 as the General Manager and Beverage Director, she assisted in the opening of one of the first “wood fired pizza” concepts in Chicago. A hidden gem in Rogers Park, Gruppo Di Amici was her opportunity to showcase her skills in presenting a unique wine list and food menu as well as bringing a neighborhood community together.
Amanda has led banquet teams, managed and opened multi unit operations, built marketing teams and took her sales departments to new heights. She worked for Marriott’s largest hotels in the city, Hilton’s Luxury brands and James Beard award-winning chefs. She was privileged to work with some of the most influential leaders in the industry who had a great impact on who she is today. Amanda is an accomplished professional in structuring and growing sales and marketing teams, developing people, maximizing profits in private events and catering, marketing promotions and prides herself in establishing strong relationships with clients and community.
She is thrilled to be at The Fifty/50 group working with top talent at a great company.
Beth Herris comes from a large family that has always been focused around entertaining & food. Her earliest and fondest memories are preparing food with her great aunts, grandmother, and mom. In some ways it was in her DNA to join the hospitality industry.
Beth began her career working for the Francesca’s Restaurant group where she developed her love of operations and development of teams. Over the course of her career she has moved through many roles within a restaurant. Finding her passion for the industry renewed time and again. She has worked for several other larger restaurant groups including Eataly and Four Star before joining The Fifty/50 Group in early fall of 2021.
Beth believes that you are only as strong a leader as the teams you are working with. When not at work she focuses her energies on her pitbull, Meka, her nieces and nephews, and creating new pieces of art.
Growing up in Clovis, California, Kassie Barr always thought she would end up as a lawyer or a history professor. “I found comfort in the facts, regulations, and routines.” However, after a family tragedy necessitated leaving university to be a caregiver for 10 years, the carefully crafted roadmap for her life she had made when she was 16 was thrown out the window.
Kassie moved to Chicago in November of 2014. Unsure of the future, she stuck to what she knew and applied and was hired as a technology support representative for a computer company. But when training for the job was pushed back 8 weeks, Kassie had to look for a position, any position, to make ends meet. A friend of a friend said that a small bakery was looking to for a weekend host to start immediately. So, Kassie took a short walk and filled out an application not expecting to even get a call back. “When I walked into West Town Bakery on a Thursday afternoon, I never expected to walk out with an offer to start that Saturday. I was so used to second, third, and even fourth interviews that I was taken aback by the immediate acceptance to the company. I thought the hiring manager was either insane or desperate, and I imagined I would be walking into a disaster that weekend, unlikely to even make it through the shift.”
Instead, what Kassie found was a group of people who were smart, funny, and full of consideration. They worked as a team, encouraging each other, and remaining focused on their guests’ happiness even during a busy brunch service with a 45-minute wait. After that day, Kassie was hooked on the restaurant business. “The sense of family and support resonated with me and I knew I wanted to stay with that group. So, when the computer company called to set up my official start date I told then ‘Thank you, but no.’” Kassie remained with West Town Bakery moving from weekend host to Lead Host at Homestead on the Roof, a sister location. After the patio season ended, Kassie was offered the position of Wholesale Sales and eventually Wholesale Manager. “That support that was apparent on my first day existed on every rung. If I showed dedication to the job, there was someone above me who helped develop me and raise me up.” After moving to The Fifty/50 Management Group’s Accounting office, Kassie was able to connect the passion for facts and regulations from her youth to the excitement and occasional chaos of the service industry.
Kassie has returned to school but instead of focusing on 20th Century European History, she is seeking her degree in Accounting. “I want to have as many tools in my toolbox as possible so that I am able to develop others. I am beyond lucky that The Fifty/50 Management Group took a chance on a clueless transplant from California who thought that “86” was just a number. And I am going to pay that forward as much as I can.”
In her role as director of beverage and bar operations, Campos works with the bar teams at The Berkshire Room and The Sixth, two of The Fifty/50 Group’s original cocktail-focused concepts and oversees operations across the entire portfolio focusing on seasonal cocktails and standards of operations.
“At the core of my work, I am motivated by delivering bold and unique concoctions and building a community. As the new director of beverage and bar operations at The Fifty/50 Restaurant Group, I aim to consistently keep these values in mind, thinking outside the box when it comes to menu development while also fostering a welcoming environment for everyone on the team,” said Julieta Campos. “I am so excited to work with such an exceptional group of people that are passionate about creating one-of-a- kind experiences for guests.”
In addition to her primary focus of overseeing and directing menu development at the restaurant group’s cocktail-focused concepts, Campos works with the leadership and concept development teams to create new menus and bar programs. She will assists in identifying and hiring talent in the bar programs across the group
Jena’s been planning parties and creating unforgettable experiences in Chicago for over twenty years. Raised in Texas, Jena’s roots are in southern hospitality, where the door is always open, the food is delicious, and everyone is a friend. Jena’s held positions at Culinary Caterers, the Hard Rock Café, and Rockit Ranch Productions where she opened seven venues and led the sales team for almost a decade. In 2016 she joined SPiN as the Director of Sales and grew the business over 40% within her first year. At the Fifty/50 group, Jena oversees Sales & Catering for fourteen venues across Chicagoland and is thrilled to be part of a team that is dedicated to creating extraordinary experiences every day.