Mercat a la Planxa

It’s so hard to believe but nine years ago when I was an Art Director at Korn Design, we helped open Mercat a la Planxa. This was my very FIRST big restaurant project ever. We were also only one of three restaurants nationwide to get nominated for the 2010 James Beard Award in Outstanding Graphics for this restaurant! So tick that off my bucket list of things I hadn’t known to even dream for! Surreal.

Having designed for Sage Restaurant Group now for so long, I was so excited when they approached me to help with their renovation and brand update. Every designer has things they look back on and want to update (can you say “perfectionist”?). Although this project was so well-received when it first opened, this was certainly true for me. The menus and cases, stationery, websites, uniforms, and even the graphic elements of colors, illustrations and patterns — all evolved to demonstrate the elegant and sophisticated, yet still fun and vibrant restaurant Mercat has grown into.

Pour me a sangria to celebrate this renovation/re-branding that is now re-opened!

638 S Michigan Ave, Chicago, IL 60605 | (312) 765-0524 |













Pint Brother Alehouse

Now open at the Denver Marriott Tech Center is my newest branding design, Pint Brothers Alehouse. A fun, friendly, delicious new American style restaurant with a passion for craft beers. I had so much fun bringing this brand to life illustrating playful beer catchphrases and designing a glass signage storefront and chalkboard murals, as well as wood-burned menus and a cocktail book that mimics the metal of a beer keg. Take a peek and try not to want a nice, cold beer.

Pint Brothers Alehouse | 4900 S Syracuse St, Denver, CO 80237 | (303) 740-2518 |





























Toledo Opera 2017-18 Season Brochure

Usually we work on and release the graphics for the upcoming Toledo Opera in Spring but this year we decided to launch the announcement at our February production so we wrapped up the look early. Driven by the beautiful image for I Dream, we went with a bold colorful photographic direction… a bit different than our typical illustration route. This season proves to be very exciting and will surely prove more sold-out performances! Buy your tickets early!





Departure Denver

Departure’s decadent and notorious Portland restaurant has come to Denver. As the designer behind the refresh and relaunch of this Denver Asian adventure, I am so proud of the elegant and tactic design of these pieces.

Departure Denver | 249 Columbine St, Denver, CO 80206 | (720) 772-5020 |

















Best in Show – Toledo Addy Awards

2016 was another successful year at the Toledo Addy Awards… to be honest, it was my MOST successful year. While I’m still blown away when I win anything up against the amazing Toledo design firms like Madhouse, Hart Associates, or Ulrich Pinciotti, the 2016 Addy Award show was the surprise of the century for me!

I came home with the coveted Best in Show award! I also won a Gold Addy award as well — both for the Urban Farmer Philadelphia branding system.

It’s such an honor to receive these types of local recognition. When you have no one else (besides my great clients, of course) to bounce ideas off of, its easy to feel a little insecure about how good your work is. So its just another feather in my cap that I’m holding my own and doing the great work for my clients that I really strive for.

Thanks Toledo Ad Club and thank you Urban Farmer Philadelphia for giving me such an inspiring and fun project!









































Baby Goodness

It’s been a while since I’ve posted… I apologize. And it’s been even longer since I’ve put any new projects on my site. Not that I don’t have some fun stuff to share but I’ve been too busy with my clients to do a portfolio shoot and update my site. That… and I just took a week to escape to New York to visit my sister and her new twins! And, while I’m definitely not a professional photographer by any stretch of the imagination, I have been lucky enough to work with a few amazing ones that have definitely taught me a thing or two. So I present a few snaps that I am quite proud of… how can you not just fall in love with these folks?

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Another Addy for the Trophy Shelf!

Last night was the second year I’ve ever entered the Toledo Ad Club Addy Awards competition and I’m so thrilled to report that I walked home with another shiny decoration for the office.

Urban Farmer‘s branded environments was awarded a Silver Addy trophy. I’m so proud and even more motivated to make Urban Farmer Philadelphia amazing (and I’m neck-deep in their signage efforts now for a Fall 2015 debut).

Thanks, Ad Club Toledo! Thank you Dash Design for designing such a beautiful space for these graphics to live. And thanks to Urban Farmer and Sage Restaurant Group for being the type of client that makes it easy to do great work for!




























Teacher Appreciation Day

Over 20 years ago, a teacher walked into my high school study hall and literally changed the path of my life. Mr. Bentley chose myself and a handful of other students to help out with his Graphic Arts Studio. He told me that I would merely be helping out with a few printing and layout projects for the school and, in the process, get an easy A … this honor student was sold.

But what I got was so much more than a boost in my GPA. I fell crazy in love with the graphic arts and the Adobe (and Quark!) software suites. And that was just the tip of the iceberg.

Mr. Gerald “Jerry” Bentley was the kindest, most supportive and fatherly teacher you could imagine. Once when I asked him to write a letter of recommendation for my application to design school, he didn’t simply write of my design skills or work ethic. He closed the letter with a phrase I will never forget: “Melissa is the kind of young woman I would want my daughter to grow up to be like.” As a typical invincible and completely unsentimental high school kid, that phrase rocked my world that a teacher could and did write that about me. Sure, I had taken his class for a solid three years in a row at that point so he probably knew me pretty well, but he saw me in a light that I hadn’t even thought to imagine myself in yet. That single phrase that he typed out made me strive to be a better person every day — for him, for his daughter, and, of course, for myself so that I was worthy of that statement. And now that I have my own daughter, the power of his words have only magnified and I’m even more motivated to make him proud of my life and career.

So, thank you, Mr. Bentley, on Teacher Appreciation Day and every day for the rest of my life. I miss you, dearly.


Gerald A. Bentley
August 16, 1945  – December 16, 2013











Hello Betty Fish House — NOW OPEN!

So its finally come to be! Several different names and logo iterations and a year and a half from when I initially began design work and Hello Betty Fish House is finally open in Oceanside, California!!! Its such a pleasure to have such a long leadtime to really get in from the ground level with the Sage Restaurant Group team and the interior designer (Andrew Alford) and really create a dynamic restaurant. There are a few miscellaneous teeny details to wrap up in the next week or two but they’re open for business! I can’t wait to find myself in Oceanside someday soon so I can celebrate over a margarita and some fish tacos. Here’s a few quick sneaky snapshots of the pieces but the final (much nicer) photography with all of the rest of the deliverables will be posted on my website soon!






2014 Toledo Addy Awards

I’m so thrilled today to announce that I entered my first Toledo Ad Club Addy Awards competition this year AND I WON! The Toledo Opera and I are so proud of the work we created together and humbled by our awards! Both a Gold Addy and a coveted Judge’s Choice Award. Now its on to the Districts but I will never forget this amazing moment where I finally feel like I’m a part of the Toledo design community! THANK YOU SO MUCH TOLEDO ADVERTISING CLUB!