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      The Dear Family

      About Us

      So We Met In A Bar

      Austin Heidt

      Wine Director, Owner

      Austin Heidt became a Certified Wine Educator in 2014 and was named Top Somm Great Lakes. In 2015, Austin passed the Theory and Tasting portions of the Master Sommelier Exam and in 2018, was accepted into the Master of Wine program.

      He currently studies for both exams. He has worked Harvest in 6 different countries and grows 15-acres of his own vines in the Old Mission Peninsula AVA of Traverse City, Michigan. His formal education includes hospitality at the University of Denver, Cornell University and a cooking degree from the Culinary Institute of America. He was a Sommelier at Frasca Food and Wine, winner of multiple James Beard Awards and became Wine Director of Rich Table Restaurant in San Francisco, a Michelin Star winner during his tenure.

      Brian Young


      Chef Brian Young spent his young childhood in New Hampshire and his formative years in Nashville, TN. Young sought to express himself creatively, as both a chef and a musician, from an early age. After years of cooking Barbecue at historic BB King’s Blues Club and as a touring musician, he decided on a culinary career path. He attended New England Culinary Institute in Montpelier, VT where he graduated with a degree in Culinary Arts.

      After graduation, Young traveled west to Big Sur, CA and his first high intensity fine dining restaurant job at Sierra Mar at the prestigious Post Ranch Inn. Young returned to his New England roots beginning as a Sous Chef in Saint Albans, VT before moving to Boston as Executive Sous Chef at Harvest Restaurant, Executive Chef at Citizen Public House and Oyster Bar, among many others. Surely the most noteworthy, Young also served as Co-Chef at Townsman alongside friend and mentor Chef Matthew Jennings.

      Chef Brian Young has been named “30 Under 30,” by Zagat, he has been featured on Food Network, at The James Beard House, and as a regular installment at Cochon 555 events around the United States as a participant and a judge. In 2019, Young was a contestant on ‘Bravo Top Chef’ Kentucky - Season 16. He is now the Executive Chef and Head Butcher at Dear Restaurant & Butchery.

      Ashley Heidt

      Director of Private Events

      Born and raised in Cincinnati, Ashley attended Anderson High School and graduated from the University of Cincinnati with a Communication and Public Relations Degree.  Ashley’s interest in event planning started with her internship she held for three summers at the Cincinnati Reds nonprofit organization.   She assisted in planning and organizing baseball camps around the city, organized and assisted on field experiences and worked at the Community Fund Booth during Reds games.  After graduating college Ashley was hired at American Financial Group as the Event Planning Assistant where she worked with Ellen Wagenlander for seven years.  The department of two planned and executed all private dining and corporate events for the highest levels of the organization.  Ashley decided to join her husband, Austin Heidt, in pursuing his restaurant dream and is excited to be a part of the team.  With her event coordinating skills and hospitality experience, Ashley serves as the group’s Director of Private Events.

      Cole Ligel

      General Manager

      Born and raised in New Richmond, Ohio, Cole found his passion for the restaurant industry at the age of 15. He began his career at a local diner in New Richmond, where he started from the ground up and worked his way through the ranks; from busser, to server, to kitchen supervisor and finally took on management responsibilities before graduating from high school. Shortly after, he moved to Cincinnati and worked for the next seven years and made his mark in the local restaurant and wine industry. He formed part of a young and dynamic team that lead Orchids at Palm Court to the coveted 4-Star and 5-Diamond awards.

      Hungry for more knowledge and experience, he left Ohio. After traveling through California, he settled down in Napa Valley. There, in beautiful Yountville, he furthered his education interning at the prestigious Dana Estates vineyard while working full time under Thomas Keller at The French Laundry. After completing another successful harvest, Cole moved back to his hometown of Cincinnati to pursue a career in Hospitality Management.

      Once back in Cincinnati, Cole spent his time establishing a team in a new high-end hotel, directing three food outlets, and a banquet program. Since joining Kindred Hospitality Group, Cole has been entrusted with the position of General Manager for the entire Dear portfolio, including the planning and execution of the opening of their Butchery and Restaurant.

      Josh ‘Tuna’ Helms

      Sous Chef

      Josh grew up in a military setting and spent most of his childhood between Hawaii and Pittsburgh. He attended the Culinary Institute of America (Hyde Park) in Poughkeepsie, New York. He grew his career working as a Sous Chef at Bar Marco in Pittsburgh and then Baker's Table of Cincinnati. Finally, coming home to Dear to work along side Chef Brian Young. 'Tuna' as he is known, has a background in music and his creative inspiration and military drive pushes the kitchen team forward.

      To Be Charitable