Jamie Lynch’s affinity for the high-octane kitchen life began when he was only 16 years old, worki…
For the past eight years, Alejandro Torio has been keeping the party alive in Charlotte. His talent …
With 23 years of experience in the restaurant industry under his belt, Patrick Whalen of 5Church Gro…
Owner – Executive Chef
Jamie Lynch’s affinity for the high-octane kitchen life began when he was only 16 years old, working his first job as a dishwasher at a local bar and grill in a Massachusetts fishing town.
He went on to attend the New England Culinary Institute in Burlington, Vermont, and work at such culinary heavyweights as Aqua in San Francisco and Le Cirque 2000, Aureole, Café Boulud and Tocqueville in New York City.
Upon moving to Charlotte, North Carolina, in 2002, Lynch worked at new American bistro Ethan’s, meeting farmer Sammy Koenigsberg of New Town Farms. “Seeing his produce, the chickens he was raising and the flavors he was cultivating from the earth just blew my mind,” Lynch recalls. “Before I knew it I was spending all my days off there to help. My attention shifted to the product and how it got to the plate.”
Lynch’s relationship with Charlotte’s sustainable farming community and the local dining culture grew from there, and in 2012 he accomplished his dream of starting his own restaurant with the opening of 5Church in the heart of Uptown Charlotte. He has since garnered many accolades, such as Thrillist’ Charlotte’s Chef of the Year in 2016 and the Charlotte Magazine’s Best Chef award in 2013, 2014, 2015, and most recently in 2018. Lynch participated on Season 14 of Bravo’s Top Chef and made history by becoming the first Cheftestant to give up his immunity.
His cuisine at 5Church speaks to the diversity of the restaurants’ owners and is a hybrid of flavors from all over the world tied together with traditional culinary techniques and a philosophy of showcasing the ingredients rather than overproducing them. Now overseeing second 5Church location in Charleston, South Carolina and most recently Sophia’s Lounge in Charlotte, North Carolina, he makes his mark in both markets by offering both signature dishes as well as items that speak to each city’s geographical differences, from more meat-centric meals in Charlotte to a larger seafood selection in Charleston.
Owner – Marketing Director
For the past eight years, Alejandro Torio has been keeping the party alive in Charlotte. His talent for providing the charming Southern town with fresh entertainment concepts and cultivating a cutting-edge ambiance draws diners into 5Church before they even realize how badly they’ll want to stay.
Prior to moving to Charlotte in 2010, he co-produced numerous events featuring talents such as the Beastie Boys, DJ Mark Ronson and Moby. During this time, Torio also hosted weekly events at hot spots like Lotus, Centro-Fly and Marquee, earning himself a reputation as New York City’s best promoter. With such a strong background in event production and promotion, Torio has seamlessly translated his past experience into hospitality brand management with 5Church Group (owner of 5Church Charlotte, 5Church Charleston, and Sophia’s Lounge).
Now, Torio handles the marketing and promotions for the whole company, which includes 5Church Charlotte, 5Church Charleston, and Sophia’s Lounge. He also serves as the communications liaison. The brand that Torio has developed for 5Church has garnered attention from such reputable news sources as The New York Times, The New Yorker, The Washington Post, Travel and Leisure, and the Chicago Tribune.
A master of brand rollouts and grassroots campaigns, Torio’s greatest strengths are his ability to form genuine relationships and create a buzz about town. “I think restaurants are successful because of the personalities involved,” he says. “My partners and I are always at our restaurants, and we all bring something different to the table. As a group, we are able to combine our talents to wow guests from the start and make them want to stay for more than just a meal. We believe that dining out should be an event.”
Owner – Operator
With 23 years of experience in the restaurant industry under his belt, Patrick Whalen of 5Church Group (owner of 5Church Charlotte, 5Church Charleston and Sophia’s Lounge) has held every position from dishwasher to bartender to manager.
His strategic ascent up the hospitality ladder, which began with a modest busboy role in a small neighborhood joint, has earned him a reputation as one of the top operators in his field.
The opening of 5Church’s initial location in Charlotte, North Carolina, in 2012 was Whalen’s entry into restaurant ownership, and his expertise in brand management, sales, operations and service has since earned him a designation as one of the youngest honorees to be chosen for the Charlotte Business Journal’s “Top 40 Under 40” and FSR Magazine’s “40 Under 40 Rising Stars.”
That expertise has also given him clear goals for the restaurant. “5Church has a rebellious spirit. Our chef can source local ingredients and be creative on the fly; we can be inventive with the space, and our service can be inspired, generous and genuine,” Whalen says. “There is nothing cookie-cutter about our restaurants.”
Delving into market research, design planning and business models has enabled Whalen and his partners to replicate the success of the Charlotte restaurant in other markets like Charleston, South Carolina. But Whalen remains committed to his fundamental role – taking care of people. “Although brand development is requiring more and more of our attention, having ownership on site at all restaurant locations nearly every day is a top priority for us,” he says. “We all really enjoy being on the floor with our guests and staff.”