James Berg
Managing Partner

Favorite Essence Menu Item: A fresh salad from Bistro with salmon

James helped open Bistro Bella Vita back in 1996 and formed Essence Restaurant Group with his partners in 2006 to become owners and operators of Bistro Bella Vita, The Green Well and Grove. His goal is to continue to build a collection of restaurants that foster a socially conscious environment and healthy lifestyle for all those who contribute to them.

Jeremy Paquin
Executive Chef

Jeremy Paquin began working for Essence Restaurant Group in 2015 at Bistro Bella Vita. Prior to joining ERG, Jeremy brought the farm-to-table concept to Muskegon with his venture Mia and Grace. Jeremy’s roots of crafting dishes prepared from fresh, local products align with Essence Restaurants’ fundamental value of thoughtfully prepared cuisine.

Jeremy graduated from Culinary Arts and Restaurant Management at San Jacinto College in Houston, TX in 2000. He has been working in restaurants ever since!

Hillary Edwards
Managing Director

Hillary began working for Essence Restaurant Group in 1997 at Bistro Bella Vita just one month after their grand opening. Today, Hillary operates as Managing Director and Human Resources for Essence Restaurants—a group who is, both literally and figuratively, her family. She thrives off of the pressure presented in the restaurant environment and loves how ever-changing the industry is day to day—as well as always being surrounded by exceptional food and beverage!

Angie Revilla
Office Administrator

Favorite Essence menu item: The Green Well’s Truffle Fries

Angie began her career with Essence Restaurant Group as a Host at Bistro Vella Vita in 2013 and worked her way up to the corporate office in 2015. As Office Administrator, Angie appreciates being able to continuously learn about different aspects of the industry. Although Angie no longer works “in” the restaurant, she still loves the team aspect of the industry and how everyone’s autonomous roles play an equal part in working toward the same goal—to create exceptional dining experiences for each and every guest.

Tristan Walczewski
Bistro Bella Vita General Manager & Essence Beverage Director

Favorite Essence menu item: The selection of French wines at Bistro

Tristan has been working in the restaurant industry since the age of 16 and has been with Essence Restaurant Group since Spring 2014. Starting as a server at Bistro and working his way up to General Manager and Beverage Director, Tristan thrives in the fast-paced work environment that the restaurant industry provides. Most importantly, he appreciates Essence Restaurant Group’s display of strong values and mission to set the standard in Grand Rapids for hospitality and cuisine.

Kris Smith
Accounting Coordinator

Favorite Essence Menu Item: Bistro’s pizzas, especially Margherita

Kris began her career with Essence Restaurants as Accounting Coordinator in October 2017 but has over 30 years of accounting experience under her belt. Essence is the first company in the restaurant world that Kris has worked with, and is an industry that she has quickly grown to love for its high energy and how every day presents something new and exciting. As part of the team, Kris appreciates Essence Restaurant Group’s professionalism, its driven team of leaders, and a strong demonstration of values that align with her own.