Meet the Team: Saint Paul Grill

by | Jun 29, 2022 | Hotel

Marc Djikas – General Manager

Bio: Marc started working in restaurants at an early age, in his parents’ restaurant in a southwestern suburb of Chicago. After graduating from Michigan State University with a degree in history, Marc returned to the restaurant business – he was a foodie and a hospitalitarian at heart. He got a job as a server/bartender with Lettuce Entertain You’s concept, Maggiano’s Little Italy, in Chicago, working his way up to the training team. Marc was a member of the opening team of Maggiano’s in the Grove in Los Angeles, right next to CBS Studios. Over the next 20 years, Marc worked as a manager and general manager in Chicago, Boca Raton, Atlanta, Nashville, and Durham. He won Restaurant of the Year for the brand in 2016, finishing the year with a perfect score on the KPIs. Marc joined Morrissey Hospitality in August 2021 – coming on board as the general manager to reopen the Saint Paul Grill after an 18-month pandemic closure. Marc loves living in Downtown St. Paul, the history and tradition of the Twin Cities, and all Minnesota has to offer.

Q & A:

What’s the best part of working in at St Paul Grill?

The sense of family that we have with the team – that’s the best part. And, knowing that we are one of the best restaurants in the city makes me feel proud.

What do you look for when you go out to eat?

I look for local spots with great food and service.

If you could eat a meal with any one, who would it be and why?

I would love to enjoy a meal with Paul Bocuse. He left behind amazing contributions to the art of Gastronomy, and a legacy through the chefs he mentored.

What was your least favorite food as a child? Do you still hate it or do you love it now?

Liver. I still hate it.

Dessert or night cap:

Dessert – anything chocolate.

Favorite Cocktail:


What was the worst style choice you ever made?

My Miami Vice phase. I grew up in the 80’s. I should never dress like Crockett or Tubbs.

Gheorghe Vatafu, Executive Sous Chef

Bio: Born and raised in Bucharest, Romania, Gheorghe got his culinary start when he was young, learning from his uncle in the kitchen. At 14, Gheorghe began his cooking career at the Intercontinental Hotel in Bucharest while attending culinary school. Gheorghe trained under master chefs and competed around the world, giving him the opportunity to improve his skills and learn about different cultures and cuisines. Gheorghe moved to the United States and became a US citizen in 2006. He began working at the Saint Paul Grill as Sous Chef in 2011, and has worked his way to Executive Sous Chef.

Q & A:

What is the best part of working at the SPG?

To be part of the St Paul Hotel Family and working with very professional people.

How long have you worked for SPG?

I have worked for SPG for over 10 years.

What do you look for when you go out to eat?

I’m not very picky. I like well cooked, simple food.

If you could have a meal with anyone, who would it be and why?

I would like to have a meal with my family. I enjoy having them around.

If you could cook with anyone. Who would it be and why?

My Uncle Gheorghe – he is my mentor.

What is your favorite thing in a kitchen?

I like creating new menu items and playing with flavors.

What was your least favorite food as a child? Do you still hate it, or do you love it now?

Food cooked with sage. I like it now.

What is one of the oddest guest requests you have ever received?

When I worked in the Middle East I had a regular that would make me make him four omelets before the one I’d make him, so the last one would be good enough for him. Every time.

How did you land in a culinary career?

My uncle was a Chef and wanted me to go to culinary school.

What was the worst style choice you ever made?

I had frosted tips once. Not doing that any more.

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