Choosing the restaurant industry at a young age was easy for Chris and he has found success in each position he has held, from Line Cook to Executive Level roles in multi-million dollar organizations. A graduate of the Culinary Institute of America in 1979, with an Associate Degree in Occupational Studies, Chris continues to enjoy his relationship with the culinary side of the business.
Chris was a key contributor to the growth of McCormick & Schmick’s Seafood Restaurants, from 8 units to 94 units and then, when purchased by Landry’s Inc., led the transition into the new organization. His next stop was leading Uno, Due, Go! – a fast casual offshoot of Uno’s Pizzeria and Grill where he worked on further development of the brand.
Since joining Rosa Mexicano in 2015, Chris has been involved in all facets of the business, including providing operational structure, developing a team of senior leaders, leading the culinary innovation efforts and guiding the organization to overall financial improvement.
Steve entered the restaurant business in late 1999 following a successful career in the commercial real estate industry, during which he negotiated and closed a substantial number of property sales, purchases and leasing transactions. Steve graduated from Syracuse University in 1977 with a Bachelor of Science degree in Accounting and in 1981 earned his license as a Certified Public Accountant in New York State. While the CPA license was an important goal and accomplishment early in Steve’s career, working in private industry became his priority.
While with Apple-Metro, Inc., the NYC metro-area based franchisee of Applebee’s International Grill & Bar, Steve found his passion in the restaurant business and was instrumental in helping the company grow from 13 units to over 30 units during his seven + years with them, serving first as Director – Finance before later being promoted to Vice President – Finance.
Steve joined B.R. Guest Restaurants as Chief Financial Officer in early 2007 just after the company was acquired by Starwood Capital Group, a private equity firm based in Greenwich, CT. His next stop was as CFO for Fireman Hospitality Group, working for the last seven years with iconic NYC restaurateur Shelly Fireman. Steve was a key member of the executive team at Fireman, responsible for all financial reporting as well as negotiating restaurant leases and managing relationships with all investors, bankers, insurance, legal and other professionals. Steve has also proven to be a strong operations-based CFO, directing construction projects, negotiating service and other contracts and generally partnering with the operations teams to help achieve effective cost controls.
Steve recently joined the Rosa Mexicano team and is thrilled with the opportunity to contribute to this exciting new phase of the company’s history.
A dynamic, seasoned HR Professional with deep and broad knowledge of best in class HR concepts, practices and processes. Patti joined Rosa Mexicano as HR Generalist in October, 2014 and brought with her a significant amount of practical experience in leading and supporting strategic transformation programs including change management, organizational planning, performance management, compliance, leadership and talent development. During her time with Rosa Mexicano, Patti has taken on the role of Human Resources Director where she has developed key organization strategies and human resource objectives that have facilitated in supporting Rosa Mexicano’s overall organization objectives.
J Holmes has been in the restaurant industry for his entire career. Prior to joining Rosa Mexicano, Holmes was with McCormick & Schmick’s, where he worked for over 10 years. He joined the Rosa Mexicano team in 2013 as General Manager of one of their flagship locations, located across from Lincoln Center. The brand had everything he was looking for; co-founders that were still involved in the day-to-day operations of the business and great core values. J has experienced great opportunities in his tenure with Rosa, including leading the team that opened Rosa Mexicano’s newest location in Tribeca. Now serving as Regional Director, J appreciates the opportunity to share his experience and positively direct the growth of managers within Rosa Mexicano.
Stephan Hengst leads the national Marketing and Communications efforts for Rosa Mexicano. A graduate of The Culinary Institute of America, he earned his Bachelor’s degree from the college in 2000. Since then he has been responsible for overseeing the marketing, public relations and content development initiatives for brands that include Whole Foods Market and Stonyfield Farm Organic, as well as his alma mater, the CIA. During his tenure as the Director of Communications for the CIA, Stephan spent nearly a decade working on the development and promotion of the college’s newest campus in San Antonio, Texas. With a focus on Latin Cuisines and culture, his time at the Texas campus gave him the opportunity to appreciate and understand the authentic cuisine and culture of Mexico while also working alongside experts in the cuisine to tell its stories.
Courtenay Greenleaf is the corporate beverage director for the Rosa Mexicano restaurant group, and the force behind Masa y Agave, located in NYC's Tribeca neighborhood. A certified mezcalier, Courtenay curated Masa y Agave's 400 bottle collection of agave-based spirits, the largest in NYC, using her travel experience and expertise on the topic to stock unique, notable bottles of tequila, mezcal, sotol, raicilla and more. Over the years, Courtenay has amassed a near encyclopedic knowledge of agave spirits, having taken many trips to the agave regions of Mexico, spending time with local distilling families and studying the particulars of different agaves, terrains and aging processes. In June 2016, Courtenay spearheaded a new beverage program company-wide, introducing new ways for guests to learn about and discover agave spirits. In 2017, Courtenay was featured as a Top 40 under 40 Tastemaker in Wine Enthusiast Magazine.
When Joe was 21 years old, he owned a coffee truck and his own catering company while simultaneously attending the New York Restaurant School. After graduating in 1992, Joe started an internship at C3 that ended seven years later when he was working as the Sous Chef. In 2000 Joe went to work at Home Restaurant where he met fellow Rosa Mexicano chef David Suarez. After three years of working summers on Fire Island at Tequila Jacks and the off-season at Home, Joe took a position as Line Supervisor with Rebecca Charles at Pearl where he was able to learn the skill-set needed to run a kitchen. While at Terrence Brennan’s Seafood and Chophouse in the Benjamin Hotel in 2004, the restaurant closed only to reopen as Ocean 50 where Joe was named opening Executive Chef. Joe then joined Rosa Mexicano as the Executive Chef of Lincoln Center in 2005 and was promoted in 2011 to Regional Executive Chef. Joe continues to enjoy being part of an expanding brand that now holds a national presence. When Joe is not at Rosa Mexicano, he is cooking at home with his twin daughters Jalissa and Ashley or following the Yankees as a proud, loyal fan.
Chris joined Rosa Mexicano in September, 2015, bringing with him nearly 25 years of experience in the food service industry. Chris has worked with brands including McCormick & Schmick’s and The Smith, where he rose through the ranks gaining mentors and developing young chefs. When not in the kitchen he is often found out on the lake or enjoying an outdoor event with his son. He has influenced the evolution of Rosa Mexicano’s menus and culture, strives to deliver exceptional guest experiences plate by plate and takes pride in his involvement in building strong business plans year after year. He enjoys the travel aspect of his work and is honored to have the opportunity to be impactful to industry professionals from coast to coast.
Amira Gertz is the Director of Catering for Rosa Mexicano Restaurants. Her department is responsible for the sale of all onsite group and private dining, as well as off-site catering and the development of B&I catering accounts. Amira joined the Rosa Mexicano team in 2013, helming sales for the New York region and was promoted in 2014 to oversee the division nationally. Prior to joining the team at Rosa Mexicano, Gertz was the director of private dining at City Hall Restaurant, where under the direction of Chef Henry Meer she grew the private dining department to a premier wedding and corporate venue in lower Manhattan. She began her career working in off-premise catering, planning and catering events all over NYC including the New York Public Library, Radio City and the Museum of the City of New York. Ms. Gertz is an adjunct professor at New York University’s Preston Robert Tisch Center for Hospitality and actively donates her time to City Harvest, Temple Shaaray Tefila and the Fresh Air Fund. She holds a BS from New York University and has continued her food and wine education at the New School.
Ellie Skinner is responsible for the development of all Team Members within Rosa Mexicano. Ellie began her career in Operations and most recently has been a Regional Director for McCormick & Schmick's Seafood & Steaks. Her commitment to leading with empathy has afforded her Congressional Recognition for her Dedication to Helping Veteran's in 2015 and General Manager of the Year in 2016. In addition, her efforts of community outreach have been shared with her Hourly Employees at Sister Jean's Kitchen in Atlantic City. Ellie's passion for Josefina Howard's food and her mission "to bring the world together at the dinner table" drives her commitment to Rosa Mexicano's Guests and Employees every day.