Union Square Cafe Names Lena Ciardullo as its Next Executive Chef




Lena Ciardullo, Executive Chef of Marta, Vini e Fritti, and Caffe Marchio, will join Union Square Cafe as its next Executive Chef starting in early 2020


Union Square Cafe – one of the country’s most acclaimed and beloved restaurants, and the flagship that launched Danny Meyer’s Union Square Hospitality Group (USHG) – has named Lena Ciardullo Union Square Cafe’s next Executive Chef, starting in early 2020. Lena is currently the Executive Chef of Marta, Vini e Fritti, and Caffe Marchio.


Celebrating its 34th Anniversary this year, Lena will be just the fourth executive chef at Union Square Cafe since its opening in 1985. Prior executive chefs include Ali Barker (1985 - 1988), Michael Romano (1988 - 2005), and most recently Carmen Quagliata (2005 - 2019).


A Chicago native, Lena Ciardullo first joined USHG in 2009 on the opening team of Maialino, a Roman-inspired trattoria. She later moved on to the kitchen at Gramercy Tavern where she worked as a tournant, before joining the Marta team in 2014. Throughout her time at Marta, Lena moved through the ranks, starting as a sous chef and ultimately assuming the role of Executive Chef of Marta, Caffe Marchio, and Vini e Fritti in 2018.


“We’ve had just two chefs at USC over the past 30 years, so we were a little out of practice when tasked with the job of finding the restaurant’s next executive chef, and we knew this was a really big decision,” said Danny Meyer, Founder and CEO of Union Square Hospitality Group. “After a robust amount of traveling, tasting, connecting with industry colleagues and soul searching - it became abundantly clear that our answer was smack dab in front of us. Each executive chef who has led USC’s kitchen has cooked soul-satisfying food seasoned with a warm hug. Lena is more than prepared to carry on that legacy and beyond.” Meyer continued, “Lena leaves mighty big clogs to fill at Marta. And now we’ll turn our attention to filling that executive chef role.”


“If you were to tell me when I first started at USHG 10 years ago that I would one day become the Executive Chef of Union Square Cafe, I would not believe you” said Lena. “Having celebrated some of my most cherished and memorable meals at USC over the years, I couldn’t be more excited and honored to join such a passion-driven team.”


About Union Square Cafe:


Union Square Cafe is a landmark American restaurant that has paved the way for generations of restaurants and chefs cooking market-driven food with an international accent and a refined, yet comforting approach to service and hospitality. The restaurant has thrice earned 3 Stars from the New York Times and is the recipient of 6 James Beard Awards, including Outstanding Restaurant, Wine Program, Service Excellence, and New York Chef.


About Union Square Hospitality Group:


Union Square Hospitality Group has created some of New York’s most beloved restaurants, cafes, and bars, which offer outstanding food delivered with our signature warmth and hospitality. Founded by CEO Danny Meyer with the opening of Union Square Cafe in 1985, the company now extends beyond the walls of its eateries. In addition to creating Shake Shack, USHG offers operational consulting, runs a multifaceted catering and events business, Union Square Events, and a growth fund, Enlightened Hospitality Investments (EHI). With operations in New York, Las Vegas, and Washington, D.C. USHG has long supported its communities by supporting hunger relief and civic organizations. USHG holds 28 James Beard Awards and numerous accolades for its distinctive style of hospitality.