At Eschelon, we take pride in providing the ultimate dining experience to each and every person that walks through the door of one of our Durham or Raleigh, NC restaurants. However, we recognize that what we do isn’t possible without the team of people behind all the little decisions being made each day to turn vision into reality, from coming up with one-of-a-kind dishes, to planning events.
Many of our staff members have been with us for years — several since the very beginning. Although we come from different backgrounds, we’re all passionate about our food, our service and making your experience at Eschelon one you’ll never forget.
Gaurav “G” Patel’s story begins in the small farming village of Zervavra, in the Northern Indian state of Gujarat. As a child, he was given a plot of land and was told to grow small crops in order to obtain funds for school supplies. This was his first successful business venture.
At 10 years old, G and his family moved to the Morehead City, North Carolina. Upon his arrival to the United States, G spoke no English. Twenty-one years later, Patel has become a staple name in the Triangle dining scene, owning six top-ranking Triangle restaurants and employing more than 300 people in the area.
His journey as an entrepreneur began when G moved to the Raleigh to pursue a degree in business at North Carolina State University. Through the duration of his education, G directed his attention to the area’s potential for business opportunity and decided to begin the foundation of Eschelon Experiences in Raleigh. Since his business’ conception in 2006, G has grown his company at a staggering rate and has set the standard for the restaurant industry in the Triangle area. His vision for Eschelon is to encompass a business model that focuses on the importance of people.
In addition to his business ventures, the president of Eschelon demonstrates the importance of civic responsibility by working closely with nonprofit groups including the Tammy Lynn Center for Developmental Disabilities, Raleigh City Farm, Band Together, and Hope for Haiti Foundation.
In 2015, G was presented with a 40 Under 40 Award from the Triangle Business Journal. This award recognizes 40 individuals under the age of 40 who have provided great contributions to their organization and to the community.
Patel’s work endeavors would not be possible without the support of his loving wife, Julie, and their daughter Zara. G also enjoys traveling and mentoring young minds.
Tara Zechini Owens was born in Durham, North Carolina and raised nearby in Cary. She graduated Cum Laude from NC State University with a degree in Communications. While studying at NC State, Tara worked as a Resident Advisor and was recognized as RA of the Year and Administrative Coordinator of the Year. After graduation, she joined Raleigh-based online startup company ZSpotlight.com as a sales associate, photographer, and content generator. Tara quickly climbed the ranks and became Sales Manager and a valued partner.
In 2009, Tara joined the team at Eschelon Experiences as Marketing Director. Accustomed to wearing many hats, she has been able to implement not only new marketing initiatives, but also sculpt the company’s charitable contribution plan, create new internal departmental structures, and spearhead new communication patterns. In 2016, Tara was promoted to Chief Operating Officer (COO). Tara loves being a part of a company that prioritizes community involvement and that fosters the entrepreneurial spirit in its employees.
When she isn’t working, she loves volunteering at her church, going to concerts, drinking wine, and cheering on the Duke Blue Devils with her husband Dustin. She serves on the board of Raleigh City Farm and Friends of Arts NC State.
Weston has been working in the service industry for more than 8 years and started serving tables at The Oxford in September of 2009. Since then, he was promoted into several top positions that ultimately lead him into the General Manager role, where he focused on establishing The Oxford as the premier spot for lunch, dinner and late night experiences in downtown Raleigh. He was awarded the first ever Person Of The Year Award in 2013 for his efforts and teamwork with Eschelon Experiences and is now one of our District Managers; responsible for overseeing management teams and day-to-day operations at several of our locations.
Weston recently moved in with his longtime girlfriend, Katy Safrit, and their rambunctious new furry addition Penny Lane. As an avid sports fan and even more devoted Redskins fan, the couple travels to games regularly in Washington, DC. In their downtime, they enjoy outdoor activities and spending time with their favorite lady Penny at the dog park.
Kyle has been in the restaurant industry more than a decade, starting as a host and busboy at DaVinci’s Italian Restaurant in Hickory, NC. As soon as he turned 18, he began waiting tables, then moved up to bartender at restaurants like Prime Only: Steak, Seafood, and Sushi Bar in downtown Raleigh. Kyle joined the CBG team in June 2008 as a server and bartender. When Eschelon Experiences acquired the restaurant, Kyle was a natural choice for a leader and he began managing CBG in January 2012. After winning Eschelon Experiences’ Person Of The Year award in 2014 we knew that Kyle’s next path would lead him into the District Manager Position.
Kyle loves earning a living by developing relationships with guests. He particular enjoys seeing how the operations run from a management level. “I love the people I get to work with. I have built strong relationships with my employees, co-workers, and the whole executive team. It’s amazing to know that you work for and with people who have the same passion for success in this industry,” Kyle says.
Dustin Slemp is originally from Wake Forest, NC. After high school, he moved to the beach and attended UNC-Wilmington. While studying Communication, he worked as an Orientation Coordinator and at local clothing retailer Edge of Urge. He enjoyed holding multiple roles at Edge of Urge, including buyer, social media manager, and stylist.
After graduating, Dustin followed his passion for clothing, marketing, and br
and development, and moved to Raleigh to manage Dapper Style House (one of G Patel’s former businesses). He started in the Eschelon Experiences home office as a Marketing Manager and is now the Creative Director. Dustin concentrates on all the aesthetics that lead to a stellar guest experience; from digital marketing, email campaigns, graphic design, to branding and more.
In his free time, he spends time with his two nieces and loves being outdoors as much as possible – especially if it is with his kickball team. Dustin also spends his weekends at Raleigh’s local flea and farmer’s markets, searching for great vintage furniture finds or fresh produce.
Katie was born and raised in Indianapolis, Indiana. She graduated from Hanover College with a degree in Psychology. During her time in college, Katie was actively involved in Emerging Leaders and held multiple positions in her sorority, Kappa Alpha Theta. During her college career, Katie maintained a relationship with The Chef’s Academy – a division of Harrison College. She accepted a full-time position with the college as their registrar at their newest campus in Morrisville, North Carolina. Two weeks after graduation, she moved to Raleigh and was with the college for five years.
In September of 2014, Katie joined Eschelon Experiences as Executive Assistant. So far, she has enjoyed being a part of the successful team at Eschelon and learning the company inside and out.
When she isn’t working, you can find Katie spending time with friends and family or cheering on the Indianapolis Colts during football season. She is also committed to raising awareness for The Alzheimer’s Association by being a member of the executive committee for Blondes vs. Brunettes – Powder-Puff Football League.
Maressa is from Zebulon, a small town 35 minutes outside of Raleigh. In 2015, she graduated from NC State University where she majored in Communications with a concentration in Public Relations. During her time in college, Maressa was actively involved with the NC State football program, worked as a barista, and interned for several organizations including HIS Radio, Inter-Faith Food Shuttle, Park Scholarships, and Eschelon Experiences.
The summer after graduating college Maressa worked for ABC 11 Eyewitness News and Eschelon Experiences. During the fall of 2015, she relocated to Philadelphia to be part of a church planting team in the Fairmount area. During her time in Philadelphia, Maressa also worked for the Beasley School of Law at Temple University as a Communications Coordinator.
In 2016, Maressa joined Eschelon Experiences as Marketing Manager. She loves being a part of a company who values people, community, and the importance of giving back.
Maressa loves sports, reading, spending time with her family, and attending Imago Dei Church. She volunteers at Duke Hospital and is a mentor at the Elizabeth Edwards Foundation.
Give the gift of great food by purchasing a gift card to any one of Eschelon’s many restaurants. Cards can be purchased in increments of $25.
Interested in attending a wine dinner or a guest chef pop-up dinner at one of our restaurants? Buy tickets today to reserve your spot.