Jeff is a Grand Rapids native and has been with Essence Restaurant Group since 2003. He then started at The Green Well Gastro Pub upon its opening in 2007. In his own words, “I did not choose the Chef life, the Chef life chose me” — and thank goodness it did!
In collaboration with Chief Culinary Officer Pat Wise and Chef de Cuisine Josh Drewek, Jeff and the culinary team work together to create the menu classics and daily specials with the freedom to go in nearly any direction they please, which is one of Jeff’s favorite things about working with Essence. Jeff believes their culinary freedom in the kitchen has directly helped The Green Well Gastro Pub, and now Rockford Riverside Grille, undergo constant change and growth over the last 10 years, and he’s both excited and curious to see what’s in store for years to come.
Chef de Cuisine
Josh began his career with Essence Restaurant Group in 2008 working in the kitchen at Bistro Bella Vita. He is excited about his new role as Chef de Cuisine at Rockford Riverside Grille, and he looks forward to dishing up some delicious American cuisine for you, so stop in soon!
Even from an early age, Kyle has been passionate about food when the cuisine was always the focal point of every family gathering. Prior to moving to Rockford Riverside Grille, Kyle managed Bistro Bella Vita for numerous years. His spare time is occupied by his love of playing music and spending time with his family.
Kristine began her restaurant career when she was only 15 years old. Before joining the Essence family, Kristine worked at Reds on the River and brings a wealth of knowledge about the former Reds space and local Rockford community. Kristine enjoys spending time with her husband, six beautiful children, and one granddaughter.
Managing Partner, Essence Restaurant Group
James helped open Bistro Bella Vita back in 1996 and formed Essence Restaurant Group with his partner, and Chief Culinary Officer, Patrick Wise in 2006. Essence Restaurant Group owns and operates Bistro Bella Vita, The Green Well, Grove, and Rockford Riverside Grille.
His goal is to continue to build a collection of restaurants that foster a socially conscious environment and healthy lifestyle for all those who contribute to them.
We serve honest fayre with local flair in a green, neighborhood setting that keeps customers coming back. Our innovative gastro pub is green beyond it’s name: Our building is Leed certified inside and out which means it’s environmentally safe, ultra efficient and leaves behind the smallest carbon footprint.