The Bartolotta Restaurants Names Jennifer Wilke as Director of People and Culture and Manuel Lara as Chief Human Resources Officer

MILWAUKEE – The Bartolotta Restaurants is enhancing its commitment to employee and leadership development; appointing Jenny Wilke as its first Director of People and Culture and Manny Lara as Chief Human Resources Officer. The duo brings nearly 40 years of combined experience to the organization, and will lead human resources efforts across the company, including 17 restaurants, catering facilities, and the support office; furthering the development and advancement of The Bartolotta Restaurants’ commitment to its internal culture.

In her new role, Ms. Wilke will oversee all aspects supporting employee recruitment, on-boarding, training, motivation, engagement, recognition, retention, professional development, and career-pathing.  Mr. Lara will focus on the business of human resources, including strategic human capital planning, compensation, compliance, succession planning, infrastructure development, and enhancing employee benefits.  In addition, he will also focus on implementation of all of The Bartolotta Restaurants diversity, equity, and inclusion strategies, consistent with the company’s number one tenet of caring for all employees. They will work closely together to maintain a culture and work environment that has been the hallmark of Bartolotta restaurants since its inception in 1993.

“Our family of employees is the reason for our success as a company, and we are doubling down on our commitment to them” says Co-Founder and Owner Chef Paul Bartolotta. “Jenny and Manny bring unmatched experience and a track record of success to their new roles, and their passion for taking a collaborative, “one team” focused approach to human resources and people puts us in the best position to strengthen our most valued asset – our people.

“We are a stronger company with Jenny and Manny on our leadership team.”

A Milwaukee native, Ms. Wilke returns home after serving as Director of Human Resources for Cheyenne Mountain Resort and The Country Club of Colorado; a role in which she oversaw all aspects of human resources, including the recruitment and onboarding of company leadership, development and implementation of training and advancements protocols, and the management of all review processes and diversified recruitment techniques. Her experience expands more than 20 years in hospitality including, amongst others, two four-Star, four-Diamond luxury resorts.  Ms. Wilke is a certified member of the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), also having attended Waukesha Area Technical College.

“Company culture is critical to our success, and I’m very excited to join The Bartolotta Restaurants that entertains such a solid foundation on which to build an even stronger, elevated organization,” Ms. Wilke says. 

A 17-year veteran of the human resources sector, Mr. Lara joins The Bartolotta Restaurants following a successful tenure as Director of Human Resources for Progressive Community Health Centers in Milwaukee. He holds a master’s degree in human resources and a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration and management from Marquette University; as well as certifications from the Society for Human Resources Management (SHRM) and the HR Certification Institute (HRCI). Mr. Lara served for seven years as a United States Navy officer in combat operations overseas prior to his human resources career. Much of Mr. Lara’s success has been in human resources field operations, diversity, equity and inclusion, and he is considered an expert in the areas of workforce planning, culture and engagement, compensation, and benefits. 

“Joining The Bartolotta Restaurants is a milestone moment in my career,” Mr. Lara says. “This company has already achieved so much, and as times change and we make plans for future growth, Jenny and I will lead the effort to develop a harmonious and inclusive environment that serves as a model for our industry and beyond.”

The Bartolotta Restaurants and catering facilities are actively hiring and training new team members. More information about the company’s recruitment efforts can be found at



The Bartolotta Restaurants is a nationally recognized restaurant and catering organization co-founded by restaurateur Joe Bartolotta and his brother, two-time James Beard Award-winning Chef Paul Bartolotta. Since the opening of its flagship restaurant, Ristorante Bartolotta dal 1993, The Bartolotta Restaurants group has grown to become the premier culinary brand in the Greater Milwaukee region, offering first class service and cuisine across a portfolio of 17 one-of-a-kind restaurants and catering facilities, including fine dining, upscale casual, upscale food hall, wood-fire pizzeria, and quick-casual concepts. Additionally, its presence as a forward thinking, respected, and community minded company has produced a charitable arm, Care-a-lotta, which supports numerous nonprofit organizations throughout Milwaukee. More information can be found at