JR’s background consists of graduating from culinary school, studying food for the past 35 years and traveling the world to experience food in new ways. Early in his career, he worked in all areas of restaurants being a Function/Banquet Captain, Sous Chef, Head Saute Cook, Garde Manger, Rounds Cook, Head Chef, Executive Sous Chef and Food & Beverage Manager at companies to include, The Canterbury Hotel in Indianapolis, The Denali National Park Hotel in Alaska, Sugarbush Inn, Edson Hill Manor and Mount Mansfield Company in Vermont. He also ran the food service at Lambeau Field and worked as a contractual Executive Chef for PGA events, major concerts and VIP catering for Spectrum Events out of Houston before opening his first restaurant.
For the past 15 years, JR has created some of the best dining spots in Northeast Wisconsin. Chives Restaurant in Suamico was his first. Since then, he created and opened 8 others, some small operations, some larger, most of them successful and others not so successful but always taking a risk, sticking his neck out, trying new ideas, and loving every minute of it. Each and every idea brought a new learning experience.
His mission is to always keep it simple, always use the freshest ingredients available. Our staff consists of very talented customer oriented people; some who have helped JR develop Chives culinary path from the beginning and some are employees he worked with in previous kitchens. The entire staff at Chives is along for the next ride which makes for a great working environment. Chives would not be what it is today without the talent and dedication of our staff.
As JR evolves, so has his family grown. His 3 children are grown and the grandchildren keep him young. Jessa, his oldest daughter is our head Baker in Fish Creek, baking delicious bread from scratch for both of our Door County locations. Nick, his oldest son and Nick’s wife, Charlotte run our restaurant, RYE, in Appleton. Nick is the Head Chef and Charlotte is the Events Coordinator. Lucas, his youngest son has graduated as a Certified Sommelier and has created for us some spectacular wine lists and works in food & beverage at both of our Door County locations. JR’s wife, Cindy, has dedicated herself to lead the office and bookkeeping departments for all his restaurants.
JR has two restaurants in Door County. Chives In Baileys Harbor and Barringers in Fish Creek. Chives Door County opened in 2014. Looking to start settling a bit, JR and Cindy chose Door County to call home. The building that Chives is located in captures the history of the small town of Baileys Harbor and character throughout. It is the perfect setting for creating dishes utilizing the freshest ingredients available. You will see our chef team planting seeds on the property and picking their vegetables from our very own greenhouse. Chives prides itself on everything made from scratch. From our bread to ice-cream, from our garden of vegetables and local ingredients, we are truly Farm to Table!
Check out his newest hobby….Food Trucks! JR now has two of them. He has our “Farm to Truck” food truck specializing in house-made sausage sandwiches, grilled cheese, salad in a jar and Friday Fish Fry. Our new pizza truck is an original 1945 Ford 1 1/2 ton commercial pick up with an artisanal wood fired oven on the back. We make a variety of pizza, wood oven roasted food and salads from it. You can enjoy food out of either of them at the Door County Brewing Co in Baileys Harbor or special events/caterings in the area. Also, try Barringer’s Restaurant in Fish Creek for a remarkable steak house/supper club experience.
Joel has been a local bartender for 12 years. He graduated from Gibraltar High School in 2007 and began his work in the industry by taking bussing and serving jobs in the area. By 20, he was bartending. He has been behind the bar at some local favorite haunts. He also took some time to work at a local brewery and distillery as a member of the production teams and returned behind the bar with new knowledge of the craft. Joel is currently a Certified Beer Server in the Cicerone Certification Program and Certified Cider Professional in the American Cider Association. We are fortunate to have him working at our craft bar at Chives!
Sara is from Columbus, Ohio. Her career in food and beverage started over 20 years ago as a dishwasher at the village restaurant in New Knoxville, Ohio. She learned the ropes of the kitchen very quickly and became a short-order cook. In college, she started bartending and serving where her experience led her to restaurant management. She did complete her degree at The Ohio State University and graduated with a BA in English Education. Eventually she earned her certificate as a Sommelier. She entered the corporate world of food & beverage at The Athletic Club of Columbus managing several outlets. We are now proud to have her in management of Chives.
Our desserts are a work of art! They are created from scratch by Janelle Jensen our Pastry Chef. Janelle started her career as a line cook in Door County in 2004. She quickly discovered her passion and creative flare for the pastry arts. In 2007, she graduated from The French Pastry School in Chicago. She has worked for The Ritz Carlton in Naples, Florida, Petite Provence Bakery in Portland, Oregon and the JW Marriot/Ritz Carlton in Orlando, Florida to name a few. In 2020, she returned to Door County to join our team.
Lucas started working for us in 2010. He was only in high school at the time and began his career in the “dish-pit”, as all great leaders should. Lucas graduated from the University of Minnesota – Minneapolis in 2016 with a BS in Food Science. In keeping with pursuing his passion with food, he has worked at Chives and Rustique Pizzeria in Suamico, Rye in Appleton and most notably has staged with Thomas Keller’s restaurants, Ad Hoc and Addendum in Napa, California.
Today, you will find Lucas as our Chef at Chives in Baileys Harbor. His passion and fascination with food comes to life on his menus. You’ll often find him tending to the gardens at the restaurant. Lucas loves ice fishing, hiking, kayaking, gardening and being a duck farmer.
Brady is as a graduate of Waukesha Co Technical College with a degree in Culinary Arts. He has spent time cooking at Wolf Peach in Milwaukee, Lagniappe Brasserie in New Berlin, Bleu Restaurant in DePere and Chives in Suamico.
As a young kid, Brady became interested in cooking while in Boy Scouts: “If you cooked, you didn’t have to clean”. Brady chose cooking. Today, you’ll find him cooking as Sous Chef at Chives in Baileys Harbor. Brady enjoys the outdoors, gardening, golf and raising ducks.
Jessa found her passion for baking several years ago. She worked at Breadsmith and Not By Bread Alone in Green Bay. She has also worked at the Bread Bank in Suamico and various coffee shops as a barista in the Green Bay area. All of our breads are made from scratch daily. Jessa uses a mixture of naturally leavened and lightly yeasted dough to create a diverse selection of variety in crust and crumb.
Jessa lives year-round in Baileys Harbor, loves spending time with her 2 boys, reading and dabbling in home-made bath and body products.
Rachel is our Catering Sales manager. Rachel was born and raised in lower Michigan, and began her love for the Food & Beverage industry when she was 17 working as a hostess in a small local bar. Over the years, she took on other positions bartending and then management for local restaurants, event venues and a comedy club. She graduated from Western Michigan University with a BS in Biology and moved to Door County. Rachel owns and operates her own business, Pink Door Events and Fresh Coast Cocktails that partner with Chives Catering for many events.