In 2004 we embarked on the project to build Alinea with a meeting and a handshake.

Exactly one year to the day later Alinea opened. Along the way we questioned nearly every aspect of a restaurant – from the moment a guest walks in, to the tables, centerpieces, and serviceware, to the menu upon egress.
Since opening Alinea we’ve built and operated Next and The Aviary, wrote and produced two award-winning books, developed and implemented dynamically priced ticketing software for restaurants, given talks on the culinary arts and business innovation around the world, and managed to remain friends and enjoy the process.
Our core thoughts on the guest experience and cuisine can be summed up more simply than one might imagine: Fun and Delicious. Implementing that goal, however, requires imagination, hard work, and a dedicated team of nearly 200 amazing people.
We are passionate about innovation in both the culinary arts and business and will continue to develop new restaurants, businesses, and do occasional consulting when unique, compelling opportunities can be created.
– Grant and Nick

Projects, Events & Consulting

In addition to Alinea, Next and The Aviary our teams have done in-house private and off-site events for companies as diverse as: BMW, Pernod Ricard, Roundarch Isobar, The University of Chicago, Wired Magazine, Translation/JayZ, PepsiCo, Barclays, Brainlab, Enova, Inner Workings, Hospitality Giants, Career Builder, Northern Trust, Accenture and many more.
We’ve curated events in a Los Angeles loft, The Swedish Embassy in Washington DC, a Chicago art gallery; swapped restaurants with Eleven Madison Park in New York, and have appeared in several documentaries and dozens of TV shows.
We’ve consulted for major food brands, flavor companies, and other restaurants both on culinary innovation and marketing/business ideas.
Our reservation and ticketing software is in use by several other restaurants and is in the process of being commercialized for a wider audience.
If you have an event, business, film, software company, food product, or any genuinely interesting and innovative idea that we can work with you to make great please contact us.

Speaking Engagements

Grant has given talks on gastronomy, culinary innovation, business, and his personal battle with cancer at events around the world: Aspen Food and Wine, Madrid Fusion, Tokyo Gastronomy, Lo Mejor Gastronomica in San Sebastien, Star Chefs New York, Harvard University, AdAge Idea Conference and many more… and for companies ranging from small start-ups to Fortune 500 conferences.
Nick has focused his public presentations on business innovation, marketing and experience design and has spoken to groups as diverse as Hospitality Giants, Lincoln Motors, Google, Technori, TedX Midwest Salon, the Booth School of Business, and the Culinary Institute of America among many others.
We choose speaking engagements based primarily on the interest we have in the group or organization hosting the event.
For booking please contact:

Behind The Scenes


Stephen Bernacki

Chief Financial Officer

Stephen began working for Alinea in administration, but quickly took over as project manager for the building and development of Next and the Aviary. After the restaurants opened he transitioned back into a financial management role for all three restaurants and has been serving as our CFO since 2012. Before joining our team Steve was a management consultant for Bain & Company in Chicago. He attended the University of Michigan earning a BBA in Finance and Marketing. In the past year he has helped to greatly expand the breadth and depth of our financial analysis and planning team and pushes to innovate and develop new restaurant management processes and software.



Gary Obligacion

Operations Director

Gary’s hospitality career began at Alice Water’s landmark restaurant Chez Panisse while he was a freshman at UC Berkeley in 1984. Over the past several decades he has worked at a variety of award winning restaurants and hotels including Boulevard Restaurant, The Ritz-Carlton San Francisco, The Mandarin Oriental San Francisco, and Pebble Beach Resorts. Gary was enticed to the world of major food events and was the initial Executive Director of Pebble Beach Food & Wine, and it was there he met Chef Achatz and Nick Kokonas. Gary was asked to join our team as Director of Service Operations in 2012. He currently lives in Chicago with his wife and two children.