The Team


Russ Bendel - Owner

Russ was born and raised in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania where he grew up with a ton of close family and friends. He relocated with his mother, father, and sister to California when he was a child.

Russ grew up in the restaurant industry and always knew it was in his blood at an early age. He earned his Bachelor of Science degree from The Collins College at Cal Poly Pomona with an emphasis on Restaurant and Business Management. During that time, Russ had worked with Bloomin Brands Restaurant Group for 15 years, six years with Outback Steakhouse, and nine years with Fleming's Prime Steakhouse & Wine Bar. He was promoted to partner of the flagship Newport Beach location at the age of 25.

During his time as a partner with Fleming's, he was proud to accomplish his Court of Master Sommeliers Certification, level five Wines of the World Certification, make the cut in OC Metro's 40 Under 40 Annual Issue in 2012, and end his tenure with Fleming's as a Partner of the Year in 2010, 2011, and 2012.

Russ decided to leave his role as the Operating Partner for Fleming's in Newport Beach to peruse his own venture in February of 2013 with longtime friends and family.

Russ spends his free time with his immediate family in Orange County, newly born niece and two God Daughters, cheering for the Philadelphia Eagles, and experiencing other great restaurants with his girlfriend.

Russ is involved in the hospitality industry as the President of the California Restaurant Association Orange County Chapter and a board member for The Collin's College Alumni Association at Cal Poly. He enjoys donating his time to help support the growth of the industry and for future generations to come.


Jared Cook - Executive Chef & Partner

Jared was born and raised in the Pacific Northwest. After graduating from Western Culinary Institute in Portland Oregon, he relocated to Southern California.

Since then Jared worked in restaurants such as French 75 in Laguna Beach, Chat Noir in Costa Mesa, and was promoted to Executive Chef at the Crow Bar and Kitchen, in addition to working at Vine Restaurant & Bar for the third time as a Cook, Sous Chef, and now Executive Chef.

He got into the industry because of a passion for food and horticulture. Jared knew he was going to be a chef from the young age of 14. Julia Child and Great Chefs of the World are his favorite shows during his teenage years. Jared started cooking with his mom as soon as he could reach the stove.

Jared not only is great in the kitchen but brings a new level of farm to table to his cooking style. Jared has a passion in the garden and uses organic heirloom herbs, fruits, and vegetables for Vine Restaurant & Bar. He has created his own garden onsite and there is nothing more local or sustainable than that he quotes.

Various accolades and awards from magazines and periodicals along the way continue to drive Jared to creating unique, out of the ordinary cuisine, blended with flavors people crave each and every day.

Jared Cook is being recognized as an up and coming young chef in Orange County and is excited to elevate Vine Restaurant & Bar to a new level of culinary success! With a last name of Cook, it sure is fitting for him.


Kyle Simpson - Operating Partner

This Orange County native earned two Bachelor of Science degrees in Business Management and Operations Management from California State University Long Beach.

For the past 11 years, Kyle Simpson is no stranger to restaurants as he has held numerous positions with his lengthy tenure with Bloomin Brands Restaurant Group, including the past five years with Roy's Hawaiian Fusion Restaurant. He successfully opened the Roy's in Pasadena in 2008 and later transferred to the Anaheim location to be closer to friends and family.

In his free time, this proud father enjoys spending time with his family and friends, golfing, relaxing at the beach, dining out, comedy shows and sporting events, including watching his favorite sports team, the San Diego Chargers. Kyle has a passion for hospitality and is excited to continue implementing and elevating the friendly service at Vine Restaurant & Bar for years to come


Gabe Whorley - Partner

Gabe Whorley is a San Clemente native. He first entered the restaurant industry while he was still a student at San Clemente High, and quickly worked his way up to tending bar.

As his experience grew, so did his passion for craft cocktails and culinary exploration. After opening Blue Coral Seafood and Spirits and Pelican Hill Resort, Gabe finally ended up working alongside one of Orange County's most renowned mixologists, Gabrielle Dion, at Charlie Palmer's in South Coast Plaza. It was here, over the past four years, that he truly honed his craft. He developed his signature style of cocktails- renovating old classics with seasonal fruits and herbs, all while honoring the integrity of each individual ingredient.

In 2013, Gabe partnered with life-long friends Russ Bendel and Kyle Simpson to bring his unique and innovative cocktail program to Vine Restaurant & Bar. Gabe brings a new level of energy to the table as he entertains guests with his own signature style and service!