Born and raised in Alton, Illinois, Mark fell in love with food at an early age. When he wasn’t terrorizing the neighborhood with his three brothers, he would indulge in his favorite cooking shows featuring the likes of Emeril Lagasse, Jack McDavid, and Martin Yan. Never foreseeing a “career” in food, he attended the University of Illinois and pursued a degree in business. To earn a little cash, he worked in kitchens in Champaign. After graduating, he moved to Chicago, where he landed a job in banking. Though it all looked great on paper, he couldn’t resist his true calling with one of the most outstanding restaurant cities in the country at his fingertips; the banking gig didn’t last long.
He took his first front-of-house job working at the perpetually busy Hugo’s Frog Bar and Fish House. Under some of Chicago’s best Maître D’s guidance, he learned how to run a great restaurant. While he never lost his passion for the kitchen, he followed his dreams of delivering old-school hospitality. After stints within Gibsons Restaurant Group, at RL and Gibsons Steakhouse, he earned a spot as General Manager of Hugo’s at 25 and swept his true love off her feet. In early 2007, Mark and Jenn moved back to St. Louis to tie the knot, start a family, and join what was becoming an inspiring local restaurant community.
After acting as General Manager for two restaurant openings, Mark eventually found a home at the Chesterfield landmark, Annie Gunn’s; he found his niche there. His passion for not just the guests but also food, wine, beer, cocktails, and all aspects of the business evolved. In 2015, after falling in love with the character and charm of Webster Groves, Mark set out to bring something new to the neighborhood his family called home. Determined to create a warm, bustling spot with thoughtfully prepared food and gracious hospitality, Olive + Oak was born. As additional opportunities in Old Webster presented themselves, the group expanded, opening The Clover & the Bee, O+O Pizza, Perennial on Lockwood, and a private event venue, The Hall.
Mark’s leadership and impact on the local restaurant community have been profound, putting Webster Groves on the map for some of the best culinary delights and wine pairings in town while creating awareness about pediatric heart disease through their family’s story.