Our Team

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Owners Mike Lee, Erin Dolan, Robert Padilla


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Mike Lee
Owner/Operator

A native of Minneapolis, Mike studied in Europe before attending and graduating from the University of Wisconsin. He later worked for several Houston locations around the U.S. for six years. During that time, Mike met his wife in Kansas City, and this fall will mark their 25 year anniversary. They raised three children: a senior at Notre Dame before attending medical school, another who is a sophomore at MU, the youngest is a freshman at St Teresa’s Academy.

After Houston’s Mike managed PB&J’s Grand Street Café for fourteen years. He left Grand Street to manage Brio Tuscan Grille on the Country Club Plaza. That’s when Charles Garney, developer of Briarcliff, invited Mike to take over operations for Trezo Maré Restaurant offering him free reign with a management team.

Mike states, “Operating a restaurant and having multiple responsibilities during each day can be a difficult challenge. Success and failure may depend on the individual, and one’s level of pride can be a factor.”

Mike’s new management has tweaked and streamlined its menu. The Restaurant is still known for its seafood, but it’s best known for its diverse Italian-American cuisine, including house-made pasta, gourmet pizzas, hardwood-fired steaks and house specialties.

Trezo Mare’s Patio was recently voted #1 in Kansas City by Ingram’s Magazine. Mike states, “Most Restaurants don’t staff their patios well enough. They typically have ‘it’s just the patio’ attitude.” Mike’s philosophy is, “The guest experience is the sum of 1,000 details, all of which are important.”


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Robert Padilla
Executive Chef/Owner

At the age of sixteen, Robert enrolled in a culinary arts program at the local vocational school and was encouraged to work in a real “from scratch kitchen”. He found his way into Lidia’s restaurant and was hired on as a pantry cook. From the first day he entered the kitchen and put on his chef’s coat, he knew he had found his career path. The kitchen moved so quickly and effortlessly with all hands working together to create something he had never imagined existed. Later Robert moved to Pittsburgh to open a new Lidia’s restaurant. This was his first Chef’s position and barely at the age of twenty. He later moved back to Kansas City to refine his ideas and thoughts of food and began to develop his goal of an Executive Chef. He moved through some great Kansas City restaurants from ZIN, Piropos, Grand Street Café, Bluestem and finally Trezo Maré. These places helped Robert to succeed in perfecting his role as a Chef, allowing him to see many different foods and philosophies. “Cooking and creating great food is only part of being a great Chef. It’s also about leading a group of people to recreate your ideas. That has become an ever increasing piece of my Chef development.”

Chef’s philosophy
From my earliest experiences in the kitchen, freshness and an understanding of ingredients have been first and foremost. The ingredients are the heart of cooking; you need to understand the yin and yang of food. This means that contrasting flavors often times create a perfect balance. Food grown close to home and naturally is always what I look for. Creating sustainability is a responsibility of every chef in my opinion. I want to create innovative and creative food, understanding that it is about pleasing the customer first. I want to create an environment that allows people to remember and experience a time where friends, family, food and comfort all come together.


IMG_1672_ppAaron Wells
Chef de Cuisine

Aaron joined Trezo Maré in 2011 and is proud to be part of a team where the number one goal is to please the guests by offering an exceptional dining experience not found anywhere else in the city. Classically trained in French cuisine at Le Cordon Bleu Scottsdale, he went to work for The Phoenician, a luxury resort in the same city. Aaron also honed his skills at the Waterfront Grill in Omaha, Nebraska, before moving to Kansas City. At Trezo Maré, he is pleased to work in a “from scratch” kitchen preparing all styles of food with the emphasis on Italian cuisine, fresh seafood, and hard wood-fired steaks. According to Aaron, “Awesome” describes the tight-knit management team that he is honored to work alongside each day.


Erin_ppErin Dolan
Event Coordinator/Catering Manager/Owner

Erin, a native of Kansas City  joined Trezo Maré as a server when the doors opened in 2006. When Trezo Maré was sold in 2011, Erin was booking catering business and offered a percentage of ownership by the new management team. Her significant experience, dedication and attention to detail ensure a stress-free experience for clients and the freedom to enjoy their event as a guest. Along with her team, Erin impeccably executes many types of events including: business meetings & luncheons, rehearsal dinners, weddings, mitzvahs, birthdays, and other special occasions. Erin is a natural in the event industry and her vision and passion for perfection gains her high marks for her commitment to excellence. For additional details and a virtual tour of our facilities,  Erin has provided a special introductory video: CATERING

Visit the Catering Gallery


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Michael Cleveland
Service Manager

Michael joined Trezo Mare in 2014 as a server and in a short time has already proven an invaluable addition to the house not only for his knowledge and experience but also for his easy-going personality and sense of humor. Prior to joining the Trezo team, Michael studied tourism and hospitality management at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. From there he coordinated events for the Nebraska legislature. When he relocated to Kansas City, his desire was to begin his new career in a beautiful atmosphere surrounded by people enjoying themselves. He knew that Trezo Mare was exactly where he needed to be. Guests and staff alike have come to know and love him for the warmth, kindness, and hospitality that makes everyone feel at home.


Justin Orlowski
Service Manager

Growing up in a large family meant everyone helped at mealtime in the Orlowski home. Justin recalls, “It was ‘family time’ and we all worked together as a team preparing food and setting the table.” At age 21, Justin moved from his hometown in southern Illinois to Iowa City to enter the Professional Photography Program at Iowa Central. He also joined Jim Mondonaro, owner of many successful restaurants in Iowa City as a server and bartender for Tomato Pie. Justin immersed himself in the culture of the “fresh food concept” in which only the freshest ingredients are used whenever possible. He quickly earned a management position. In 2008, a major flood destroyed the property. Justin transferred to Mendo’s Saloon as a general manager for six years before relocating to Kansas City. The first time he walked into Trezo Mare and met the owners, he felt at home. Justin states, “Trezo not only embraces the fresh-food concept, they also embrace a family-centered culture where everyone works together as a team.” He adds, “It’s easy to work for people you can respect.”


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Mark Taylor
Wine Director

Wine has always been an integral part of Mark’s life. While he is currently the Beverage Director at Trezo Maré, cultivating a unique list of boutique favorites and adventurous new selections for his wine locker holders, he cut his teeth at one of Wine Spectator Magazine’s most lauded Kansas City venues and cellars, Starker’s Reserve.

While at Starker’s, Mark learned the ins and outs of the wine trade under the tutelage of Jim Coley. Mark fell in love with wine, learned about pairing, guest relations and chose a direction to pursue: educating guests and consumers alike.

These skills have served him well in the last four years as beverage director at Trezo Maré. Although he oversees all aspects of the program, he focuses most of his time on his first love: wine. In his tenure at Trezo Maré, he has hosted large-scale wine tastings, coursed wine dinners, and grown their locker program, cultivating a regular client base that waits anxiously for each month’s offering.

Mark is currently a part of the Society of Wine Educators and is studying to become a Certified Specialist of Wine. He’s excited to take the next step in his journey, one sip at a time.


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Vincente Montero
Pastry Chef

Vincente is living the sweet life as the Pastry Chef at Trezo Maré. His culinary journey began at a variety of restaurants including Drunken Fish and 801 Chophouse. While at 801, Vincente was given the opportunity to create desserts and that’s when he discovered his true passion in the kitchen. Vincente explains, “Pastry chefs must be artistic and creative. Mistakes cannot be redeemed after the fact but on the other hand, putting the finishing touches on any pastry can be the most calming experience.” As an expert in all things sweet, Vincente creates spectacular and decadent pastries from scratch for serving fresh every day at Trezo.