Meet The Team

16" on Center is a construction term for the center mark that creates the strongest build, of the highest quality,
and is meant to last. Collectively we take on projects and build in neighborhoods where we can't wait to hang out. 
We hope to find other people who share that same mentality.


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Bruce Finkelman

Managing Partner

16" on Center // Beauty Bar | Bite Cafe | Empty Bottle | Empty Bottle Presents | Dusek’s | Longman & Eagle | MONEYGUN | Punch House | Saint Lou's Assembly | Tack Room | Thalia Hall | The Promontory 

A Chicagoland native, Bruce Finkelman’s celebrated path in hospitality began as a graduate of the University of Missouri’s inaugural Food and Beverage curriculum. Working his way through school at Columbia’s storied Blue Note music club, Finkelman found a home for his love of music and the missing puzzle to complete his education. 
Shortly thereafter, he returned to Chicago and landed a job with Hyatt Hotels Corp. Stifled by the big-box corporate mentality, he decided to head out on his own. A late night drive through Ukrainian Village would foreshadow the start of his next career chapter. With $923 in the bank, Finkelman set out to launch the Empty Bottle. A home to a community of artists and creatives who began taking up residence in the then-desolate Ukrainian Village, The Empty Bottle filled a void in the evolving neighborhood. A year later, the whole operation would move three blocks north to its permanent home on Western and Cortez. Described by Finkelman as a “cat-ridden hole-in-the-wall,” musical acts from all over the globe were welcomed as Chicago’s music scene blossomed. Two decades later it is the only Chicago venue to make Rolling Stone magazine’s list of the nation’s 20 best rock clubs. 
Bruce then went on to launch joint ventures Bite Café and Beauty Bar before opening doors to Logan Square’s Longman & Eagle in 2010. Named a ‘Best New Restaurant in America’ by both GQ and Esquire magazines, Longman & Eagle is nationally recognized for its standout menu with a focus on seasonally driven cuisine and bourbon. 
Finkelman & Golden partnered once again to restore Pilsen’s stunning Thalia Hall space in 2013. Re-establishing a concert hall in the venue’s historic theatre space, the ambitious project also includes Dusek’s, a beer-focused restaurant in the corner of the building (named 2014’s ‘Best New Restaurant in Chicago’ by Chicago Magazine), and Punch House, a craft punch bar tucked away in the basement. 
When the University of Chicago reached out to Finkelman and Golden for help revitalizing Hyde Park, the duo jumped at the opportunity to open another restaurant and music venue that could foster a renewed sense of community. The Promontory is his vision as a hearth-centered neighborhood flagship, managed and staffed by people whose passion for music and hospitality equals his own. 
Finkelman’s manifold restaurant concepts are a function of his evolving palate. While bourbon took center stage at Longman & Eagle, and beer became the focus for Dusek’s, live music has always remained a relative constant in Bruce’s pursuits. Finkelman attributes his collection of diverse music venues to his love of live performances. “Create a place where you would want to be, and there are sure to be some others who will like it as well.”  He spends what free time he has with his wife and daughter, perusing galleries and restaurants, discovering Chicago’s unique architectural history and neighborhoods, hopelessly rooting for its hometown football team and relaxing at home. 
 


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Craig Golden

Partner

16" on Center // Dusek’s | Longman & Eagle | MONEYGUN | Punch House | Saint Lou's Assembly | SPACE | Tack Room | Thalia Hall | The Promontory 

Craig Golden is the President of Blue Star Properties, a Chicago based commercial real estate company known for the acquisition and revitalization of urban properties. Before establishing Blue Star, Craig co-founded Sterling Bay Companies in 1986 with a high school friend. For over 20 years, they bought and redeveloped numerous properties, focusing on Chicago commercial opportunities in need of extensive rehab and redesign. Launching Blue Star allowed Craig to pursue a wider range of projects, utilizing his real estate knowledge and experience. Passionate for redeveloping older structures to fit the modern workplace, His portfolio currently contains over two million square feet of commercial space and he continues to seek new and exciting projects. 
Having begun his post college life playing in bands, and after a number of financially unrewarding years, Craig learned the construction business out of necessity. The former musician also likes a good meal. Through his real estate endeavors Craig has been able to incorporate his love for music and dining into his projects wherever he can. In what can only be described as a stroke of luck he began partnering with local club-owner and music maven Bruce Finkleman. The two formed the company 16 On Center and almost a decade later, they have opened numerous restaurants and music venues in and around Chicago. 
Craig is married with three wonderful children and lives in Evanston, Illinois.


 


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Elizabeth Tulipana

Director of Operations

16" on Center // Dusek’s | MONEYGUN | Punch House | Saint Lou's Assembly | Tack Room | Thalia Hall | The Promontory 

An events professional with a penchant for the creative, Elizabeth Tulipana is a Louisiana native who spent her childhood in Omaha, Nebraska before settling in Chicago after school. 

Post-graduation from Miami University (Ohio), she traveled through Europe for two months before landing in a development position at Chicago’s John G. Shedd Aquarium, rising from Manager of Donor and Special Events to Assistant Director of Donor Relations during her four years and 50+ annual events with the organization. Elizabeth then went on to open her own business, Anticipation Events, at the age of 27. She still serves as Creative Director & Principal of the company, which is now in its seventh year of business, currently contracts six event planners and facilitated 30 weddings last year alone. 

Tulipana’s longtime love of live music is what initially drew her to the position of Events Director for the opening team of the Thalia Hall property in 2013, shortly followed by the launch of The Promontory the following year. Now as her responsibilities continue to increase with each new project, Tulipana has been named Director of Operations for 16" on Center, the newly formed and overarching parent group of the growing restaurant collective. 

Tulipana stays busy in her free time with a variety of creative pursuits—she’s written pieces for the likes of Marie Claire Magazine and Conde Nast Traveler, enjoys bopping around Logan Square in pursuit of Bloody Mary's, and she continues her globetrotting adventures every chance she gets. 


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Victor David Giron

CFO

16" on Center // Beauty Bar | Bite Cafe | Empty Bottle | Empty Bottle Presents | Dusek’s | Longman & Eagle | MONEYGUN | Punch House | Saint Lou's Assembly | SPACE | Tack Room | Thalia Hall | The Promontory 

Victor David Giron is a CPA with over 15 years of experience working in finance.  He’s worked in a variety of industries including financial services with PricewaterhouseCoopers, energy with Exelon Energy, and most recently spirits serving five years as Controller of Jim Beam Brands North America where he was responsible for the financial close of a $2 billion commercial segment. 

Besides being a numbers guy, Victor’s appreciation for the arts and culture has lead him into various pursuits, including founding Curbside Splendor Publishing, named "Best Independent Publisher in 2014" by Chicago Magazine and one of ”Chicago’s Top Ten Arts & Culture Stories of 2013” by Time Out Chicago. Curbside has published over 30 books achieving regional and national press and awards. At 16" on Center he’s found a home that allows him to apply his corporate finance experience, and be part of a team of culturally like-minded folks.

Victor is also a member of 826CHI’s Board of Directors, a non-profit based in Wicker Park that provides free writing tutoring in an engaging fashion to Chicago’s inner-city youth.  He lives in Humboldt Park with his wife, two sons, and a dog.


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Will Duncan

Director of Hospitality / Partner

16" on Center //  Dusek’s | MONEYGUN | Punch House | Saint Lou's Assembly | Tack Room | Thalia Hall | The Promontory 

A musician at heart, Will Duncan grew up playing drums in suburban Washington D.C. before moving to Upstate New York to study performance jazz. Rising from dishwasher to waiter at a small neighborhood restaurant set Duncan’s passion for food ablaze. He re-located to New York City to work as a waiter at the Blue Water Grill, a classic seafood eatery by noted behemoth, The BR Guest Hospitality Group. The gig allowed him the flexibility to play drums several nights a week in the quintessential big-city music scene. Aside from his passion for music, Duncan found himself energized by the restaurant’s frenetic pace, and a hospitality career slowly began to reveal itself. 

Continuing to hone his restaurant chops, Duncan then relocated to Chicago, where he once again resumed his server-by-day, musician-by-night persona. Leveraging his Manhattan resume, he assumed a position at MOD in Wicker Park, which, under the guidance of One Off Hospitality’s Terry Alexander, proved an integral transition in his career. Soon after, he was drawn toward work at Bruce Finkelman’s venue, The Empty Bottle–the Ukrainian Village’s nexus of music and hospitality. Although he took a pay cut to work alongside Finkelman, his ambition at The Empty Bottle opened the door for him to train the opening staff at Michelin-starred Longman & Eagle. Duncan solidified his cocktail knowledge as Longman’s General Manager, which set up his role in creating the retro-chic Punch House concept. Duncan’s successful management of both Punch House and Thalia Hall and subsequent role as Director of Operations for the group led to his position as Director of Hospitality / Partner for the 16" on Center properties. 

Though he’s since stopped playing drums (once the creative reward in formulating restaurant concepts surpassed that of drumming), he unwinds with his wife and dog at his Logan Square home, where he built a home bar as a hobby carpenter.


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Andrew Zens

Recruiting / HR Manager

16" on Center // Beauty Bar | Bite Cafe | Empty Bottle | Empty Bottle Presents | Dusek’s | Longman & Eagle | MONEYGUN | Punch House | Saint Lou's Assembly | SPACE | Tack Room | Thalia Hall | The Promontory

Upon graduating with a Bachelor’s Degree in Accounting and Business Management from the University of Kansas, Andrew Zens moved to Chicago to pursue a career in finance and accounting. He spent the first three years of his career at the Chicago branch of Big Four accountancy firm KPMG, one of the world’s largest professional services companies that provides accounting, consulting, tax and legal, financial advisory, and assurance services. Andrew transitioned into a recruiting and finance role with the boutique recruiting firm Harmer Associates, in Chicago’s Loop, and later went on to join the recruiting team at global marketing execution firm, InnerWorkings Inc. He then joined 16” On Center as the lead Recruiting/HR Manager in October of 2016. In his role, Andrew oversees recruiting new talent for the 16” On Center's restaurants and bars. In his free time, Andrew is particularly interested in delving into Chicago’s craft beer scene, and enjoys cycling, spending time with his girlfriend Maggie and his Basset Hound Tugboat. 

 


Emma Winter

Director of Private Events

16" on Center //  Dusek’s | MONEYGUN | Punch House | Saint Lou's Assembly | Tack Room | Thalia Hall | The Promontory 

Originally from Evanston, Illinois just outside Chicago, Emma Winter first became interested in restaurants and hospitality at an early age. Her stepmom is a Thai chef, and Emma got her start working at her restaurant, cooking and catering events for allowance money. She studied urban design at New York University and eventually returned to the Chicago area where she worked in politics for several years before realizing her true passion was in the events industry. She then spent the next five years as the Content Manager of the Chicago Food Film Festival and the New York Food Film Festival, where she produced and coordinated large-scale food and film events for 1000+ guests while working closely with chefs, artists and filmmakers. Soon after, she was drawn back into the heart of the hospitality world, thriving on the liveliness of the kitchen culture. At the same point in time, one of Chicago's most acclaimed hospitality groups was in the midst of expanding to the Pilsen neighborhood to launch several innovative concepts under one roof. It was here at Dusek's that she worked her way up from a server to manager and now as Events Coordinator for the expanding 16" on Center collective.  

In her free time, Emma enjoys running and exploring new restaurants in the city with her husband and her Pit Bull / French Bulldog mix, Robot. 

 


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Erin Gervais

Senior Accountant

16" on Center // Beauty Bar | Bite Cafe | Empty Bottle | Empty Bottle Presents | Dusek’s | Longman & Eagle | MONEYGUN | Punch House | Saint Lou's Assembly | SPACE | Tack Room | Thalia Hall | The Promontory

As senior accountant at 16” on Center, Gervais brings substantial financial experience to the team. She earned a degree in accounting from the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, Minnesota, in 2011, and soon began her career at the Skyway Theater in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Here, she worked closely with the venue's managers, handling daily finances and taxes. In search of a new adventure in another city, Gervais stumbled upon 16” on Center and was immediately inspired by the elevated level of clientele that the hospitality group has to offer. Gervais moved to Chicago to join the staff in 2015, and in her current role, she works with all of the venues to manage accounting and finance related matters, including budgeting for new businesses, financial reviews, team training and much more. When not crunching numbers, Gervais spends her free time continually exploring Chicago’s neighborhoods to discover new restaurants, coffee shops and music venues. 


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Jennifer Winter

Social Media Manager

16" on Center

With more than 10 years of social media and public relations experience, Jennifer Winter brings forth an expertise for sharing the unique voices of a wide-range of hospitality concepts through her role as 16” on Center’s social media manager. Originally hailing from Vancouver, British Columbia in Canada, Winter moved to the States with her family at the age of four. She later attended college at the University of North Carolina at Wilmington, where she received her degree in international business and Spanish in 2005. With a passion for traveling the globe, Winter moved to Barcelona, Spain where she began to learn the ropes of public relations at local communications agency, Intermedia GdC. She then moved back to the United States in 2006 for her first foray in hospitality, where she worked as a public relations coordinator for Norwegian Cruise Line. She later held social media and public relations manager positions with Hall Management Group (previously Maverick Southern Kitchens) in Charleston, South Carolina, followed by Empire Eats in Raleigh, North Carolina. In 2016 Winter set her sights on Chicago, and was immediately drawn to the cutting edge vision of hospitality group 16” on Center. In her position as social media manager, Winter uses her passion for storytelling to craft creative content for the diverse group of venues. She also assists with photography, event organization and promotion. In her spare time, Winter loves winding down with a good run or yoga, as well as exploring art museums and indulging in Chicago's evolving restaurant scene. 


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Libby Alexander

Private Events Sales Coordinator

16" on Center

With more than 10 years of experience planning events around the city of Chicago, Libby Alexander brings her expertise to 16” on Center in her role as the collective's private events coordinator. Alexander began her career coordinating events for the Edgewater Chamber of Commerce, and also served as the associate director at the Lakeview Chamber of Commerce. Here, she was responsible for planning neighborhood street festivals and securing permits for special events. In 2010, she launched her own event planning company, Aardvark Promotions and later began work in 2011 with Empty Bottle Presents coordinating special event permits. Alexander joined 16” on Center as a private events coordinator in 2016. In her role, she seeks potential leads for 16” on Center's private event spaces, and oversees the organization of larger events from start to finish, such as Dusek’s Board & Beer's annual Blocktoberfest. When not on the job, Alexander relaxes by practicing her passion for illustrating and cooking at home. 


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Lucas Walker James

IT Manager

16" on Center // Beauty Bar | Bite Cafe | Empty Bottle | Empty Bottle Presents | Dusek’s | Longman & Eagle | MONEYGUN | Punch House | Saint Lou's Assembly | SPACE | Tack Room | Thalia Hall | The Promontory 

Originally hailing from San Antonio, Texas, Lucas Walker James began to explore the world of computer science at the early age of 15 while working at his family's small computer repair company. Here, he spent his time learning about basic computer programming and how to repair electronics. James went on to study computer science at Texas State University before moving to Chicago in 2016. He continued to hone his skills working at uBreakiFix, a local company that specializes in repairing electronics, before bringing his expertise to 16” on Center as the IT Manager. In his role, James is responsible for building and maintaining the group’s websites, troubleshooting technological issues, and striving to develop new ways 16” on Center can use technology more efficiently. In his free time, he continuously teaches himself the latest techniques in computer programming, writes music and plays guitar, and spends quality time with his dog, a Red Heeler, appropriately named Banjo.