Meet the team
Guided by the creative and strategic vision of its founders, Ann Kim and Conrad Leifur, what was once a “mom and pop” team of two has evolved into a leadership team of eight.
A Korean immigrant, Ann credits her culinary palate to helping her mother and grandmother at an early age make traditional staples such as fermented bean paste and kimchi. Her college years at New York’s Columbia University laid the foundation for her dream of bringing great pizza to Minnesota, and her years as a freelance actor fostered her value of creativity. Ann is the culinary mind behind Pizzeria Lola, Hello Pizza and Young Joni; in 2017 Ann received her first James Beard Award semifinalist nomination for “Best Chef Midwest ” and in 2018 she was selected as a finalist for “Best Chef Midwest.”
I love having a job that challenges me to be creative not only in the execution of a great dish, but in every aspect of what I do. Creativity is freedom from the mundane and allows me to do my best work while inspiring others in our organization to do the same.
Raised in North Dakota, Conrad graduated from Yale University and earned an MBA from the University of Minnesota’s Carlson School of Management. He worked as an analyst and in leadership positions for financial companies including Aetna, IDS, American Express, Piper Jaffray, and Black River Asset Management before devoting himself full time to restaurant ownership in 2010. He has run distance since high school and continues to compete in marathons and half marathons.
As CFO, I'm always looking for opportunities to make investments in our restaurants, our people, our organization, and new concepts.
A St. Louis native, Paul served as an officer in the United States Navy before launching his culinary career at Oakland, California’s renowned Oliveto, where he began as a line cook and eventually became chef de cuisine. For six years he led the kitchen at Minneapolis’s renowned The Bachelor Farmer, where in 2016 he received the Best Chef: Midwest honor from the James Beard Foundation.
“I am excited about the energy around Vestalia’s people-first culture. Personal growth and learning are really important to me, and this position affords me the opportunity to flex the skills that I want to improve on, and learn other skills that I don’t currently have.
director of people and culture
Becky has two decades of restaurant service and management experience in cities including San Francisco, Washington, D.C., and Minneapolis. With a degree in Art History and Classics from the University of Wisconsin, at one point she envisioned a career in teaching, which informs her passion for training and instruction in cultivating the talent of Vestalia’s staff. She has entry-level sommelier certification and has completed 5 marathons (but doesn't indulge in both hobbies at the same time).
It's my responsibility to make sure we're creating an environment for everyone in our organization to feel valued, supported, respected, and engaged. I set a foundation for that by developing and fostering solid HR systems, I also coach our leadership team and check in with individuals at each restaurant to ensure they have the tools they need to grow personally and professionally. Ultimately my purpose is to help people gain a deeper understanding of themselves so they can make stronger connections to others and reach their full potential.
director of operations
Kris’s experience in the restaurant business includes working in Hawaii and on the mainland for Restaurants Unlimited Incorporated, and in operations in the Twin Cities in the Chambers Hotel for D’Amico Partners full service division, and in General Manager positions at Minneapolis’ Vincent—A Restaurant and Pizzeria Lola. In ninth grade, he won a National Scholastic Silver Medal award for Humor Writing.
As Director of Operations, I spend most of my time facilitating conversations and exploring possibilities, ensuring the well-being and effectiveness of leadership, and supporting each restaurant in fulfilling their vision and meeting their goals.
Associate director of people development
Amie’s passion for helping people develop personally and professionally has been a focus throughout her 20 years of restaurant management experience. What started as a hosting job at age 19 evolved into an exciting and diverse career in the hospitality industry. For 17 years she traveled from coast to coast and collaborated with franchise owners, marketers, designers and contractors as she helped to open more than 100 Famous Dave’s locations and develop people at all levels of the organization.
In her spare time she can be found hanging out with her husband and their dog, Addison, a deaf white boxer who knows sign language (a hybrid of ASL). Their best sign? The Hawaiian “hang loose” gesture telling Addy to chill out. When Amie needs to chill out herself she makes a beeline north to spend time at her cabin.
I’m driven by making a difference in the lives of others and thrive in the hospitality industry by doing so for both guests and colleagues. Our business is driven by people coming together to celebrate and indulge while connecting on a personal level; this is what I love to create and foster in our environment and community.
associate marketing director
Rachael is a Minneapolis native with more than 15 years of marketing experience; she's held positions at City Pages, VEE Corporation, and most recently at the Guthrie Theater. She holds a B.A. in Cultural Anthropology from the University of Minnesota, a major that lends itself surprisingly well to understanding the intersection of people, marketing and communications. Rachael's culinary curiosity began in college while studying abroad in Nantes, France where she became enchanted by the daily ritual of shopping in the open-air markets and cooking with fresh, local, simple ingredients.
In her spare time, when she isn’t cooking, eating, thinking about eating or reading about eating, Rachael is likely to be found practicing or teaching yoga, running around Lake Harriet or photographing her cat, Tilly, for Instagram.
I adore connecting people to what they love through thoughtful, creative and tailored marketing efforts. Telling stories with engaging content is at the core of how I approach my work.”
associate director of people services
Jeff was born and raised in the Brainard Lakes area of Northern Minnesota and holds a B.A. in Psychology from the University of Minnesota, Duluth. His career has landed him in leadership roles at Caribou Coffee, Just Take Action (a Duluth-based hospitality company), and most recently CW Technology where he worked with more than 80 clients to champion their IT needs as Client Communications Specialist. In his role at Vestalia, Jeff ensures team members are well taken care of by managing payroll, employee benefits, and leading company-wide recruiting efforts.
Food has always played an important role in Jeff's life, one of his earliest childhood memories is spending summers with his grandmother, and baked goods and comfort foods they would make together. He carries that love of cooking into his own kitchen where weekends are spent baking up treats and sweets.
Building relationships with and between people comes naturally to me – I love spending time with people to learn about their lives and experiences. As part of the People and Culture team, I get to make these connections on a daily basis. That makes my work rewarding.