The Staff

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Aaron Zacharias

Owner and Operator

Aaron started his career in the food and beverage industry at the age of 15 as a busboy and food runner. While majoring in German at Illinois State University, the industry called him back for good. He was professionally trained as a server, caterer and bartender at the Holiday Inn and later went on to be part of the opening team for the first Damon’s Grill in Illinois.

After graduation, Aaron entered into the employ of Town & Country Distributors, where he furthered his knowledge of fine beers and worked in merchandising and sales. Next came a four-year post at Romano Bros. in wine sales and a growing passion to open a unique bar and restaurant in Chicago.

The search began in 2001 and Aaron filled the time by working with The Beverage Testing Institute and cultivated relationships with a multitude of breweries and wineries. In 2003 he left BTI to open The Bar on Buena, now lauded as one of Chicago’s finest neighborhood establishments.

Cleetus Friedman

Executive Chef

Born into a Jewish family, Cleetus Friedman was born to cook and entertain. Raised by his mother, a baker and regular entertainer for family and friends, it was Karren Friedman who forced Cleetus to get a job at the age of 15.

Cleetus started his career in the food & beverage world as a busboy and continued to work his way through the industry, spending time with everything from short order kitchens to full service and fine dining restaurants, surrounding himself with talented industry people, and developing his skills both in front and back of the house. Throughout college at the University of Maryland, Cleetus assisted in the growth of the Silver Diner by running the kitchen, front of the house, and implementing company wide training systems. In 1995 he moved to Chicago to develop catering programs for Spoonful, Caffe Baci, and Heaven on Seven.

In 2008, Cleetus opened City Provisions with the mission to connect community with food. As a premier catering company, and in 2010 a full service delicatessen, he became a trailblazer in support of the local food movement. The 2010 Local Beet “Restaurant of the Year,” Chicago Magazine’s “Best Brunch,” and ChiTown on Tap’s “Food Industry Professional Doing Most For Craft Beer” are only a few of the many accolades Cleetus has received.

As Executive Chef of Fountainhead, Cleetus has the opportunity to combine all of his passions for food and drink under one roof…and on top of one, as well.

Stay on touch with Cleetus on Twitter! @CleetTweet

Chris Kafcas

Front of House Manager

Those who know Christopher A. Kafcas, and those that do are many, may often remark that if the Irish/Greek wasn’t in the restaurant business he most certainly would either have brought lasting peace to the Middle East or spent most of his life behind bars for a series of silly and meaningless crimes.  Thankfully, though the Middle East still suffers, he found his way here to Fountainhead.

Christopher is one of the last of the Old Guard having worked his way up through the ranks of the Front of the House.  Beginning in his teens at Hackney’s washing dishes and bussing tables to make money for gas, beer and Punk shows it was just a matter of time that his constant presence at Jake’s Pub on football Sundays landed him a job.  Jake’s was the beginning of his bartending career that all told has spanned some seventeen years.  Included in his storied history behind the bar are such Chicago Greats as Arco de Cuchilleros, Bar on Buena, and The Gage.  Old timers may even remember him working the Door at Danny’s, Underbar and on occasion The Long Room.

Whether it be talking about shots, beer and whiskey pairings, food pairings or the absolute beauty of whiskey Christopher brings to Fountainhead a love and passion for those things that make Fountainhead truly special…great beer, great whiskey (especially corn whiskey white and wonderful!), and great food.  Pair that with his dedication to outstanding friendly and unpretentious service and we find our Front of the House Manager.