To enhance and educate the palate with the freshest ingredients and flavors. We strive to surprise and excite each guest with personal care and service.
Ellen grew up cooking in her family kitchen, where she developed a passion for feeding people. She carried this passion from her home kitchen, through a four-year psychology degree, then to culinary school at Johnson & Wales University. She opened Gracie’s on New Year’s Eve in 1998. At Gracie’s, she is known for building a team that is excited about culinary artistry, wowing guests, and championing locally sourced food. Most nights, she can be found working the line, chatting with guests, or encouraging her staff to “wish it, dream it, do it.”
In 2012, she opened Ellie’s as an extension of the bread program at Gracie’s. With Ellie’s, Ellen and her team strive each day to stand out in the community as a loyal, soulful, nourishing neighborhood eatery.
Chef Matthew Varga
Chef Varga is from Connecticut, where he would spend his childhood days crabbing, fishing, and soaking in the aromas of his family’s busy kitchen. He began his culinary training by taking food and baking classes in high school, and started his first job in a restaurant at the age of 16. Chef Varga attended Johnson & Wales University, where he received his associate degree in culinary arts in 2003, and his bachelor’s degree in food service management in 2005.
Chef Varga began working at Gracie’s in 2007 and was promoted to Executive Chef in 2010. Since then, Gracie’s has won the AAA four-diamond award five years straight and received three Diner’s Choice awards from Open Table. Chef Varga has been featured in Art Culinaire and as a guest chef for the Democratic Governors Association Taste of America gala.
Private Events Director
Kendal Fitzsimmons is our link to our community and local culture. She grew up on the south coast of Massachusetts and has never found herself away from the ocean for very long. This gives her an inside edge for event planning in the Ocean State. She has been able to transform Downtown Providence into a unique wedding destination. Her passion is connecting with guests and developing their vision beyond their expectations. She strives to build and grow relationships that start out as clients but end up as friends. She has been coordinating events, parties, and vacations for as long as she can recall.
Kendal graduated with a degree in Public Relations from the University of Rhode Island and has over 10 years of experience making each and every event she’s planned unique and memorable. One of Kendal’s proudest accomplishments is the sheer growth over the years in her helm as the Director of Events in the Gracie’s Ventures wedding program. Her passion for detail and love of food makes Gracie’s the ideal place for Kendal to achieve her goal of exceeding guest expectations and bringing each client’s unique vision to life.
Director of Operations
Alan Freudeman has 20 years of experience in the restaurant industry. He began working in restaurants while in college for theatre in Ohio. He tended a bar and managed restaurants in Cleveland, and moved to Rhode Island in 2006 to attend Johnson & Wales University. While at JWU, Alan worked as a server and line cook at Gracie’s. In 2010, he assumed the role of Chef de Cuisine at Ama’s in Providence.
Alan returned to Gracie’s in 2013, where his knowledge and passion for wine led him to serve as our staff wine educator, where he expanded the wine program to showcase unique wines from the regional United States and established a scholarship fund for teammates to take the Introductory Sommelier course and exam. In 2015, he stepped into the position of Wine & Beverage Director, and in 2019, he accepted the position of Director of Operations. Beyond service and hospitality, Alan is passionate about improving the lives and working experience of his colleagues and teammates in the Hospitality industry.
Leanna Greene was born and raised in Staten Island, New York. Her passion for all things baking has been with her since she’s been a little girl. Leanna started her journey here at Gracie’s as a pastry intern in 2018. In 2020, at just 20 years old, she was named to the position of Head Pastry Chef- the same year she graduated from Johnson & Wales University. She gathers inspiration from seasonal ingredients and loves to adventure out into our little State of Rhode Island to find them. Each day, she strives to elevate and push her creations to the next level and was drawn into Gracie’s because of the fact that she can experiment and learn here. Her enthusiasm for local ingredients and her sheer passion for growth and education is simply unrivaled. Leanna’s raw talent and dedication to her craft and team are an inspiration to all of us.
Service & Hospitality Director
Evan Little is a Rhode Island native hailing from Hope Valley. He started his restaurant career in the humble beginnings of a small Chinese restaurant in South County as a busboy. After that, he knew that hospitality was the road he needed to travel. He’s worked in many positions over the years, from fry cook to a bouncer and everything in between. Evan’s work ethic paired with his drive to work with quality food and people brought him to Gracie’s in 2016. Here at Gracie’s, he is honing in on his exceptional attention to detail and gaining a deep desire to cultivate a team by encouraging continued education, positive and actionable feedback, and listening to his team and guests. Evan’s perseverance and hard work earned him the Service and Hospitality Director’s role at Gracie’s in 2020. Evan helps his team tell the story of the seasons through food and beverage, striving towards excellence daily by empowering his colleagues.
Wine Cellar Master
Elizabeth, who hails from South Boston, started her career in hospitality at 17 years old. For a little over a decade now, she’s been in roles from hosting to serving and even a little back of the house but found her passion working with wine and beverages. She has been integral to our operations since 2017, when she joined the team as a server and became a Certified Sommelier. In 2021, she was named Wine Cellar Master. Her passion for wine, fresh ingredients, and dedication to her craft are simply a gem- rare, exciting, and unique. Elizabeth lives each day to learn something new and brings that knowledge and experience back to the team, and ultimately, our guests. She is our walking wine encyclopedia and is always there to offer information or a helping hand. Not only does she strive to learn, but she also strives to teach our team, elevating them in their education. Her fellow team member says her way of educating is “ fun, and she has a way of teaching that makes her passion shine through.” Her inspiration for our cocktails comes from the seasons and our kitchen. You can always find her looking for new ingredients to highlight. She likes to feature wines made by smaller producers, ones who are growing their grapes and creating something extraordinary.