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Meet Marie Petulla of Union Restaurant & Knead & Co in Pasadena

Today we’d like to introduce you to Marie Petulla.

Marie, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
At 18, I started waiting tables at the infamous Moody’s Pub on the North Side of Chicago. I worked my way up to bartend in some of the most recognizable and influential bars in Chicago. In 2001 I started working with two dynamic chefs, Dana Hechtman and Nicole Parthemore at She in Chicago which opened up my world to sustainability – hospitality- and community. After four successful years there, I moved to Los Angeles, where I worked as the GM of Firefly in Studio City. In 2014, she partnered with Bruce Kalman to open Union, an intimate 50-seat restaurant known for Northern Italian cuisine that showcases fresh, California ingredients. Marie’s sophomore project, Knead & Co., is a market-driven ode to classic Italian American favorites served in the bustling, accessible atmosphere of a downtown LA landmark. In 2018, I will be partnering again with longtime friend and chef Dana Hechtman to bring an new and exciting restaurant to the Fairfax District.

My main focus as an owner is to mentor her staff in both the front and back of the house. “I believe we can achieve greatness when each team member is given equal respect and opportunity to grow.” Throughout my career, I have broken down barriers and kicked through ceilings in this male dominated field which has naturally led me to be an advocate and champion for women in the restaurant industry.

Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
It has not always been a smooth road in this male dominated business – I had to fight every step along the way –

I look at my company and myself and constantly think – what can I do differently – how can I make my restaurants hospitable and sustainable for members of my team. I knew I had to create an equal playing field for woman – this analysis becomes a part of our efficiency like food cost, labor cost, sourcing sustainable ingredients and creating new dishes.

How can I become the employer of choice? Having woman in management, behind the bar and in the kitchen creates a different voice. It shakes up group think…providing a space for diversity and a dialog for change. This is the reality – it is up to us to set the bar higher – It is up to us to demand that our male colleagues and business partners recognize the amazing attributes woman bring to this business. I have some of the most talented and amazing woman working with me. They challenge and push me to become a better leader and role model– we have to create opportunities for woman–

Union Restaurant & Knead & Co – what should we know? What do you guys do best? What sets you apart from the competition?

My company ethos is – Hospitality. Sustainability. Community– These concepts encompassed every aspect of our company – the type of ingredients we sourced – the environment in which we created for our guests – and the attitude we strive to embodied as leaders and role models. I do believe this sets us apart from other restaurant groups –

What is “success” or “successful” for you?
Success is watching those you mentor and teach follow their dreams and achieve their goals – success is happiness – success is daring to fail.

Contact Info:

  • Address: 37 E Union Street Pasadena CA 91103
  • Website:
  • Email:
  • Instagram: unionpasadena

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