Nathan Holgate General ManagerA native to the Midwest and son of a 3rd generation baker, Nathan Holgate was born into the world of hospitality. He has a bachelor’s degree in music, over 20 years in hospitality and entertainment management, and has tasted cuisine and wine on six continents during his travels. City Winery Chicago could not have offered him a more perfect pairing and he is thrilled to be a driving force in Chicago’s restaurant and music scene. Nathan has led a dynamic City Winery team in both the West Loop and the Chicago Riverwalk to countless awards including: Crain’s Chicago Business’s Best Event Spaces, Chicago Magazine’s Best Bars, Urban Land Institute’s Vision Award, 4-time Wine Spectator’s Best of Award of Excellence, TimeOut Chicago’s Top Local Music Venue and was recently named to New City’s “Music 45 Power Issue: Who Keeps Chicago In Tune” List. Whether enjoying a glass of City Winery’s award-winning wine at a concert in the West Loop or dining alongside the beautiful Chicago Riverwalk, Nathan hopes to create once in a lifetime experiences for you and your guests each and every day of the week.
Todd CarrDirector of Private Events
With over 20 years of private event experience, Todd has played an active role in celebrations of all sorts from Galas, to Weddings, and Corporate events all in and around the Chicagoland area, this experience assures clients that every detail of their event will be executed flawlessly from the flowers, linens, equipment, and most importantly the menu.
Possessing a teamwork mentality, Todd will partner all of City Winery's talent in order to bring you and your guests a top-notch memorable event experience.
Caroline Schrader Winemaker
Caroline Schrader is an award-winning winemaker in Illinois, dedicated to creating wine reflective of true craft and care through hands-on and focused production. Her work is built on the old school philosophy that great wine is made from working with your hands, patience, and creativity. She weaves this philosophy into her practice by creating small-lot craft wines. From barrel fermented Sauvignon Blanc, to delicate yet gritty Grenache, Caroline is making wines that she not only hopes people will enjoy, but that also provide an element of surprise.
As the winemaker, Caroline brings her craft to both the West Loop and Chicago Riverwalk locations. Prior to City Winery, she worked at Wild Blossom Meadery and Winery in Chicago's Beverly neighborhood.
Previous to her career in wine, Caroline was an architect at Chicago powerhouse firm, Solomon Cordwell Buenz with a masters education from the Illinois Institute of Technology and bachelor's education from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign.
Mark Mendez Executive Chef
Executive Chef Mark Mendez has established a reputation for combining seasonal and local ingredients with classic cooking through a tenured career, at acclaimed restaurants. Being a Chicago native of Puerto Rican decent, Mendez found his love for dining at a young age, where family dinner was a daily ritual, and the admiration for making people happy through food continues today.
While attending culinary school, Mendez honed his skills at the highly regarded Spiaggia under the tutelage of Paul Bartolotta. Upon completing culinary school Mendez headed to the graduate school of cooking, New York City, studying alongside famous chef, restaurateur and author Douglas Rodriguez at the famed Patria. After working at Patria Mendez realized he wanted to get back to his roots, and cook in his hometown. Returning to Chicago, Mendez clocked time at some of Chicago’s most renowned and beloved restaurants.
After honing his skills at various locations in Chicago and wanting to cook the food of his heritage, in 2005 Mendez collaborated with Jerry Kleiner at the hugely popular Carnivale. At Carnivale Mendez showcased high quality, local, and seasonal ingredients in a grandiose setting, while staying true to his love of Latin cuisine.
In 2011 Mendez opened and ran his own venture, Vera, a Spanish restaurant and wine bar, in what would become known as Chicago’s red-hot, West Loop neighborhood. As a Chef and restaurant owner, Mendez learned the skills and balancing act it takes to run a business, while welcoming and cooking for guests as if they were in his own home.
Libby Brickson Senior Talent BuyerLibby started her City Winery journey working in the box office at the original NYC location and then relocated to Chicago in 2012 to open the company’s 2nd property. After being the opening box office manager she took over programming in the summer of 2013 and since then has been booking the calendar with an eclectic mix of live shows. Libby is a life-long music lover & show-goer. Prior to working for City Winery, she was also on staff at music venues, the Bottleneck (Lawrence, KS) and the Crossroads (Kansas City, MO) and held various positions at music festivals including Wakarusa and Harvest Fest. Libby was promoted to Senior Talent Buyer at City Winery in 2019.
Dan Conroe Marketing Director5 fun facts about Dan Conroe
• Dan made his film debut as an extra in the acclaimed film “Rookie of the Year”
• Dan has worked with the voter registration organization HeadCount for 10 years where he’s registered thousands of voters at concerts and music festivals
• Dan has seen hundreds of concerts but he can’t play the harmonica, recorder, or even a simple drum. He can’t even dance.
• Dan brings his love of live music to City Winery where he helps ensure that guests have incredible experiences at shows.
• Dan loves City Winery so much that he celebrated his wedding in the Chicago venue!
David Padula Concert ManagerA native of Syracuse, NY, David brings to the table a mix of experiences, from working in catering as a college student, to playing bass in a touring indie band, to concert production. He started his career as a server at the opening of City Winery Chicago in 2012 and has been a staple of the artist hospitality experience at City Winery ever since. Managing and performing in Chicago roots rock band The Lucky Dutch, which tours up to 60 dates a year, for the past 5 years has given him real insight into multiple facets of venue operation from dive bars to theaters. He’s been involved with the concert production side of things at CW as well and never hesitates to jump in and push a road case, patch a mic cable or put on a lighting show when the need arises. He’s proud that City Winery Chicago is known within the artist community, locally and nationally, as a place where the artist experience is second to none. Working together with the Talent Buyer, the Box Office, the Venue Director and Production Manager, Padula strives for the highest level of service and the smoothest of nights for all local, national and international touring acts and their guests.
Devon Kelly Assistant General ManagerDevon started her career as a PTA for a therapy office right out of college. She got work as a part time event planner to help pay off student loans and in June 2013 started her own business, Mix & Mingle Chicago. For the next 2 years she was given the opportunity to travel all over the country and 3 different continents organizing and hosting events. In October 2014 Devon got back into the bar world opening a 4am bar at the ripe age of 26. She was a co-owner and the General Manager of Hard Water Bar and Grill for 2 years. Devon joined our team in January 2017 and says she couldn’t be happier. “Everyday is a new adventure and I work with some of the most incredibly talented people in the industry.”
Emily Fitzgerald Senior Private Events Sales ManagerEmily’s private event experience spans ten years and touches both ends of the spectrum, from concepting and creating events to torching the crème brulee in the kitchen.Emily graduated from The French Culinary Institute in New York City in April 2003, having studied under Jacques Pepin, Andres Soltner, and Jacques Torres. From there, she entered the field at a small catering company based in Times Square, where she learned on- and off- premise catering, both in the kitchen cooking and in the office writing proposals and invoicing.
When The French Culinary Institute opened a new catering department at the end of 2010, she jumped at the chance to be a part of it. She worked alongside the expert French chefs who taught her. When she moved to Chicago, she found herself at the largest catering company in the Midwest, Blue Plate Catering, where she oversaw some of the biggest and best events in the city at places like Union Station, The Field Museum, Chicago History Museum, The Rookery, The Ivy Room, and Harris Rooftop. She brings a wealth of experience and an eye for detail to her work, and she looks forward to making your special day beautiful and professional.
Rebekah Mahru Beverage DirectorThis native Chicago polyglot has quite the travel bug, so becoming a sommelier was a natural extension of Rebekah Mahru’s many loves. Before choosing a career in wine, Rebekah traveled to dozens of countries as well as lived in Argentina, Germany, and Spain for extensive periods of time. She has been immersed in the culture of food and wine since her first restaurant job at the age of 14. Since then, Rebekah has worked in either the back of house or front of house of restaurants. Although she originally went to school to be a doctor, she strayed from convention and received a degree in Spanish literature. To her, learning a language can be as romantic as studying wine. The anthropologic aspect to both cannot be overlooked. In language, as in wine, one must learn the culture, history, geography, among much more. Upon moving back from Spain in 2012, she was part of the opening team for RM Champagne Salon in the West Loop. After departing RM, Rebekah began as the wine intern for the now National Wine Director of City Winery, Rachel Driver Speckan. With many hours of dedication to work and study, Rebekah rapidly moved up the ranks from intern to head sommelier, to Assistant Beverage Director. Now, two and a half years later, she is the Beverage Director of City Winery Chicago. She is currently immersed in the training and studies with the Court of Master Sommeliers and received the top score in her class for her certified sommelier exam this past year. Rebekah is extremely humbled and excited to share her passion and nerd-filled love of wine and other fermented beverages with City Winery and Chicago.
Luis Ortega Wine Sales DirectorWhether you are buying a barrel, private label wine or just a bottle, Luis is uniquely qualified to show you the fine points of what makes urban winemaking at City Winery legendary. His passion for the industry is a perfect match with our dedication to producing outstanding wines - just call him and you'll see why!
Rated and recognized for his product knowledge and commitment to outstanding customer service, Luis brings to City Winery an extensive background in a variety of industry touch points including buying, retail sales, marketing, wine education and event production. Driven by a love for wine that runs deep in the family, Luis founded Stellar Wine Company, a top-rated independent wine shop in Chicago’s eclectic Lakeview neighborhood, where for years he brought the “joy of wine” to consumers of all levels. At City Winery, Luis is taking that joy to a whole new level as part of our focus on bringing the best in wine, music and food to Chicago for years to come.
Luis attended San Francisco Wine School and is certified by the Society of Wine Educators. Prior to his wine career he was a Video and Television Producer/Director in New York City and Chicago. He holds a BFA and a MA from the New York Institute of Technology.
Tom Fox Concierge ManagerTom Fox was born and raised in Springfield, Illinois but has never met the Simpsons. He attended Southern Illinois University in Carbondale for much longer than necessary. A deep appreciation of live music, particularly live music in Chicago, is his lifeblood and the force that drives his very existence. When you meet him for the first time, he will be very kind and accommodating by nature, but please know that he will eventually demand details of your first concert experience, so be prepared.
Matt Bolser Bar ManagerA world traveler and retired Upscale Hawaiian Shirt Designer. He proclaims he was raised by the legendary Hodag in Northern Wisconsin, and loves cheese and beer. he hopes to retire in the Yukon Territory someday where he can finally concentrate on writing his novel about collecting rare bottle caps. He wishes all well wishes and hugs for condors.
Drew PerfilioVenue Director
Drew loves music, wine, and food. City Winery is the perfect stage for him to share his passion for each. During a career in the concert and hospitality industry, he has learned that there is no better job in the world than one that puts smiles on faces. When he is not at City Winery he collects records, makes condiments and sausages, cooks meals for friends & family, and goes to more concerts. He will probably beat you at music trivia, but he will make your ears bleed at karaoke. He hates talking about himself in the third person, so he going to stop typing now...
Jeff HurseyVenue/Operations Manager
Jeff has been part of the City Winery team for the past 3 years. He started here as a server and his interpersonal skills, along with his ethic and work-smarter attitude, earned his inevitable promotion to Event Lead, and now is a full time manager. Jeff has been in the hospitality industry for the past 30 years. He started his career in the fast food industry at the age of 15 and since then has been a server, bartender, tour guide, bar manager, to finally land his dream job here at City Winery. Jeff’s goal is to educate all of our service teams to not only know about our products but about our culture. Information is key to better service, and better service leads to an amazing experience for our all of our guests.
Sarah FooteGraphic Designer
A true design nerd, Sarah has a BFA in Graphic Design and Painting from Illinois State University, and thinks typography is sexy. City Winery offers her the perfect opportunity to create visual rhythms for performing artists and musicians through her posters and design collateral. Outside of Illustrator and InDesign, you can find Sarah cleaning house at pub trivia with her team, maintaining she can sing Hall & Oates’s “Maneater” at karaoke without ever proving it, or most likely, stuck in traffic on the Dan Ryan.
Kelley WheelerMarketing Coordinator
With a heart for great music, fine wine, and excellent food, Kelley Wheeler pairs perfectly with City Winery Chicago. Beginning as a Marketing intern, Kelley made her mark and continues on as City Winery Chicago’s first Marketing Coordinator. After completing her Communications degree from Hope College, Kelley jumped in with both feet for the chance to work and thrive in the Windy City. After 6 years in the restaurant industry and continuous stage presence, Kelley is thrilled to combine her passions and experience into a position that utilizes it all. She couldn’t imagine a more perfect fit for her talents and interests than City Winery.
Stacie KrusePastry Chef
Stacie started baking at her grandmother's apron strings and still uses her recipes to this day. After earning her B.A. in Hotel and Restaurant Management, Stacie spent 21 years working under legendary chefs such as Charlie Trotter, Laurent Tourondel, and Wolfgang Puck. During this time she honed her technique, which is American cuisine with a French technique.
Kelsey DanielsEvent Manager
Spending her childhood years between Europe and the United States, Kelsey views life through an adaptive worldly outlook. After graduating from Kendall College, Kelsey combined 4 years of event experience with her understanding of the culinary and experiential aspect of the hospitality world. Combining that with her effective communication skills and result driven attitude made her the perfect fit for event management at City Winery. Joining our City Winery Events team has equipped her to be a resourceful individual that balances the vision of her clients with their best interests, all the while including a touch of her own personality. Kelsey is a motivated, unique individual who is always ready to create a fun, out of the box, memorable experience for all clients. When she is not at City Winery, you can find her drinking spicy cucumber margaritas, rollerblading by the lake, reading books about chakras and doing yoga along the beach. .