John Ross & Phillip Walters

J O H N  R O S S  emerged onto the Chicago dining scene in 1997 taking a vital role as Director of Service in the opening of Michael Jordan’s fine dining restaurant One Sixty Blue, formally located in Chicago’s contemporary West Loop. One Sixty Blue won best new restaurant recognition in 1997 from Esquire, Bon Appetit, Travel & Leisure, Chicago Magazine, and Chicago Tribune. 

In 2000, Ross experimented further with his passion for the restaurant industry and opened his own self-financed concept, Sage, a farm to table restaurant in his hometown of Des Moines, Iowa. Sage quickly became very well known in Des Moines and was named Best Restaurant in the city for several years by the DSM Register. In 2005, he sold Sage to his head chef and returned to Chicago to rejoin One Sixty Blue leading them to the Chicago Sun-Times Restaurant of the Year Award. After two great years with One Sixty Blue, Ross spent some time managing and directing food and beverage at Chicago’s iconic Ambassador East Hotel, including The Pump Room and Tramonto’s Steak & Seafood. 

In 2008, John took his impressive background as a restaurateur and partnered with the talented Chef Chris Pandel and longtime friend, Phillip Walters, to form B. Hospitality Co. and to open The Bristol. With the great success of The Bristol, including four-star reviews from Time Out Chicago and CS Magazine, a Michelin Bib Gourmand Award, and top rankings from GQ and Esquire, the team went on to partner with Boka Restaurant Group to open Balena in 2012. Balena’s rustic Italian food has garnered numerous accolades, including a Michelin Bib Gourmand Award, Bon Appetit’s 50 Best New Restaurants, James Beard semi-finalist for Best New Restaurant and Gayot’s Ten Best New Restaurants in America. 

In early 2015, B. Hospitality Co. launched Formento’s, an Italian-American heritage restaurant, and Nonna’s, an Italian sandwich shop, two projects near and dear to John’s heart. Named after and inspired by his Grandmother Formento, the restaurant was designed to offer the classic Italian dishes and warm hospitality that John grew up with. B. Hospitality Co. also plans to partner with Boka Restaurant Group in Fall 2015 to open another West Loop eatery, Armour & Swift, an upscale steakhouse.

Ross resides on the Northside in Chicago and in his free time enjoys traveling and exploring new cities and restaurants. 

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P H I L L I P  W A L T E R S  developed a yearning for restaurant life at an early age. Inspired by his mother’s cooking, his father’s backyard barbecues, and chefs on public television, Phil, a native of Iowa Falls, entered the world of hospitality at the age of thirteen, serving as a line cook at a local restaurant. Ten years later, he graduated with a Master’s degree in Hotel and Restaurant Management from Iowa State University. 

After serving as executive Sous Chef of Brix in Des Moines, he traveled throughout the U.S. gaining valuable front- and back-of-the- house experience at a variety of restaurants. It was during this time that Phil first began exploring wine. He eventually settled in Chicago where he served for four years as Assistant General Manager and Beverage Director for N9NE. Here Phil grew his knowledge of wine with the help of Chef Michael Kornick who educated him about wine and food pairings and provided access to thousands of wines, which helped hone his palate.  After N9NE, Phil served as General Manager for Food and Wine Best New Chef (1991) Gabriel Viti at Miramar Bistro. 

Phil’s longtime friend and restaurateur, John Ross, introduced him to executive chef Chris Pandel and B. Hospitality Co. was born. Their first project was The Bristol, a farm-to-table restaurant in Chicago’s Bucktown. In addition to helping to conceptualize the food menu, Walters built the comprehensive wine, beer and cocktail program at The Bristol, garnering four-star reviews from Time Out Chicago and CS Magazine, a Michelin Bib Gourmand Award, and top rankings from GQ and Esquire. In 2012, B. Hospitality Co. opened Balena, partnering with Kevin Boehm and Rob Katz of the Boka Restaurant Group. Balena’s rustic Italian food has garnered numerous accolades, including a Michelin Bib Gourmand Award, Bon Appetit’s 50 Best New Restaurants, James Beard semi-finalist for Best New Restaurant and Gayot’s Ten Best New Restaurants in America.

In early 2015, B. Hospitality Co. launched Formento’s, an Italian-American heritage restaurant, and Nonna’s, an Italian sandwich shop, both located on Chicago’s Restaurant Row. B. Hospitality Co. plans to partner with Boka Restaurant Group in Fall 2015 to open another West Loop eatery, Armour & Swift, an upscale steakhouse.

Walters spends his free time traveling, eating, researching wine, and spending as much time as he can with his wife, Shelby, daughter, Grace, and their Yorkie, Madeline.