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Our Team

Rosemary Waldmeier
General Manager

Rosemary Waldmeier has always had a love affair with food. As the daughter of the Drake Hotel’s former executive chef, she grew up with an immense appreciation for the complete dining experience. She even entertained the idea of becoming a chef before her father sat her down and told her to get an education first– cooking would always be there. After working at the famous Gibson’s Steak House in the Gold Coast, Rosemary was bit with the restaurant bug again and later became a summer intern with Lettuce Entertain You in 2009. Upon finishing her undergraduate degree at Queen’s University in Ontario, Canada, she returned to Chicago, set on finding a job at Shaw’s Crab House in Chicago. Rosemary was hired, starting as a carryout attendant and host before moving up to floor manager, and grew in that position at Shaw’s Chicago until November 2015.

Rosemary is a perfect fit for this neighborhood spot and a thoughtful person who loves the balance of interacting both directly with guests and with the restaurant team. She thrives in the more intimate neighborhood setting of Lincoln Park where the laidback and inviting environment will encourage guests to to be adventurous and try new things from the menu.

Rosemary is a big fan of east coast oysters, especially those from Gooseberry Bay in Prince Edward Island. Clean and briny, this particular oyster is a great selection for a guest who is perhaps an oyster novice or longtime enthusiasts. She also loves crisp glass of rosé, a gin/tonic in the summer and a boulevardier to warm things up in the winter.

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Christina Smith
Manager (Cocktails)

Christina Smith hardly remembers a time when she wasn’t a part of the restaurant industry. Born and raised in Valparaiso, Indiana, she worked a series of restaurant jobs both before and after her big move to Chicago in 2000. However, it was in 2004 during her eighth year bartender stint at a Lincoln Park bar where she really cut her teeth before joining Lettuce Entertain You. In 2012 she joined the team as a manager, leading cocktail programs at Shaw’s and Tokio Pub, two of Schaumburg’s local favorites.

Christina returns to her Lincoln Park roots with the Oyster Bah team where she will oversee the restaurant’s cocktail programs. She has mastered “iconic east coast classics with their own twist.”  A self-ascribed “bartender at heart,” Christina loves creating recipes with simple, fresh ingredients.  In contrast, her own drink of choice is a whiskey neat with a couple of ice cubes.

She is also responsible for the amazing Airbnb condo space (Pearl in the Park) above the restaurant where guests can spend a night in luxury after enjoying a delicious dinner downstairs.

When she’s not at Oyster Bah, she’s spending the day with her daughter enjoying all that this wonderful city of Chicago has to offer.  She enjoys presenting a cocktail list which will perfectly compliment the menu.

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Nate Redner
Manager (Wine)

Some kids love soccer. Other kids love karate. For Nate Redner, it’s always been about food (and wine upon his 21st birthday). By the age of 14, he was working summers in a small Italian restaurant in northern Michigan making salads and desserts. He later worked as a line cook at the exclusive Bay Harbor Yacht Club. His passion for the industry was solidified during his studies at Michigan State University’s Hospitality Business program where he secured an internship with Lettuce Entertain You. Based mainly out of Shaw’s Crab House, he also assisted in opening Tokio Pub in Schaumburg. He was then offered a position at Shaw’s as a manager in June 2012.

Nate oversees the wine program at Oyster Bah where all 30 selections are offered by the glass. This petite list of delicious, funky wines constantly rotates, inviting guests to explore and pair different varieties with oysters and other menu items while also enjoying their old standby selections. While he is excited about the entire wine list, Nate favors serving a few standout varietals such as semillon, gamay and dry rieslings from around the world including the Finger Lakes.

So what does a guy who loves wine drink on his day off? More wine, of course. Lately, Nate has been going through a champagne phase, which pairs perfectly with oysters. Come on in and meet him!  He has mediocre dad jokes and great wine knowledge.

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Donny Farrell
Sous Chef

Looking back, Donny Farrell can recognize he’s always been on a path towards the kitchen. A high school athlete who loved the camaraderie of his lacrosse, football, and hockey teams, Donny found a similar type of teamwork in the back of the house. While attending Kendall College in 2006, after studying at DePaul University in Chicago, Donny began working at the now-shuttered Leopold as a line cook. There, he was introduced to the principles of making everything “from scratch” and taking his craft seriously. He also learned the value of local sourcing and using quality products, and that a great menu can’t be created from mediocre ingredients.

After stints at Girl and the Goat as a butcher and line cook and Juno as a hot kitchen chef, Donny made his way to Oyster Bah to become the restaurant’s sous chef. Named by Zagat as one of the 2016 Under-the-Radar Chefs to Know in Chicago, Donny is a natural teacher with a desire to improve and make things better than the day before. He is also the restaurant’s resident Four Letter Hot Sauce chef, making a list of rotating sauce varieties— some even smoked— that are equal parts spicy, vinegary, and funky due to the fermentation process.

 

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Juan Ramirez (Divisional Sous Chef)

Born in Arandas, Jalisco (Mexico), Juan came from quite modest means.  That being said, he learned from his Mom’s entrepreneurial spirit, who ran a small business in the center of town.  She taught him the importance of a strong work ethic and sheer perseverance to make ends meet every day.

Moving to U.S. when he was 15, his first job was at Chili’s.  He was hungry to work and would do any job asked of him.  Juan had never worked in a kitchen, but that sheer perseverance his Mom taught him came in handy.  Within a short time, he had worked all back-of-house positions and found that he enjoyed keeping every day different for himself.  He continues to work and mentor all positions to ensure that cooks are learning from his experience. He enjoys teaching others and helping them understand how to maintaining the quality of work expected of them for the food they prepare for our guests.

His Lettuce Entertain You career started at RPM Italian as a line cook, which then progressed to a lead line cook position.  He also worked at Paris Club and in 2015 moved divisions to work at Oyster Bah.

Working second jobs on many occasions  Juan is also quite familiar around a body shop.  His ever-growing passion for cars is one of the ways he spends his free time, with a current favorite being a ’57 Sacra Vochos.

Time with his kids is most important.  It doesn’t matter what they do as long as they can be together.

 

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Pete Balodimas
Divisional Chef

Pete Balodimas began his culinary career after graduating from Chicago’s Kendall College as sous chef at 120 Ocean Place in Wheaton, IL. Next came a position as chef de cuisine at Tin Fish in Tinley Park, IL and a sous chef position at the world-renowned Spiaggia in Chicago. Balodimas was the chef/owner of Fahrenheit in St. Charles, IL, which was nominated as a top 10 new restaurant by Chicago magazine. He then served as executive chef of several of celebrated chef Jose Garces’ restaurants in Philadelphia, Arizona and California.

Bringing a technique-driven culinary style to Oyster Bah, Balodimas also cooks with an attention to seasonality and using the best possible ingredients and, as he puts it, “treating them with respect.” He now brings all of the Shaw’s quality and innovation from his past positions to create a menu which maintains the integrity of the product with some unique preparations and old standby East Coast classic seafood dishes.

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Bill Nevruz
Managing Partner

Bill Nevruz is the Managing Partner of Shaw’s Crab House, Tokio Pub, Oyster Bah and Seaside’s Carryout and Delivery.

Bill operated a variety of restaurant concepts for a decade on the East Coast, beginning his leadership career as General Manager with Bullwrinkle’s Bar and Grill, then as GM & part-owner of Buckley’s Restaurant (sold in 1995), and finally as GM with the upscale American eatery Lucky 32. In 1999, he took an opportunity to leap into in the rapidly growing restaurant scene of Chicago. Bill joined the team of the iconic Shaw’s Crab House, then preparing to open its Schaumburg outpost.

Since he became part of the Lettuce team, Bill has been GM of 3 LEYE locations, Mity Nice Grill and Shaw’s, both in Schaumburg and the River North flagship. He rose to partnership by creating and developing the concept of Tokio Pub in 2011. In 2016 he worked closely with Rich Melman in opening the Lincoln Park original, Oyster Bah. Close behind that Bill concepted the carryout and delivery only Seaside’s, which operates from Oyster Bah’s Halsted address.

Now leading the landmark Shaw’s Crab House brand while dreaming up new ideas, Bill focuses on what really engages him the most about the industry – innovation.  He draws from that passion to find new ways of leading his team through potential hurdles in the businesses.  “Usually most of the answers are in clear view.  The trick is to recognize how we can use good ideas in innovative ways to solve old problems,” says Bill. He never stops looking for ways to improve what is already working well and he leads by a theme his father taught him, “Aces in their places.” He succeeds by putting his team in positions where they learn, grow and succeed.

Bill treasures his time with his wife, Paula and their four children, A.J., Molly, Brooke and Dottie. He looks forward to his future at Lettuce, creating more new concepts while continuing the long success of Shaw’s Crab House.

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