BRIAN 'WES' WESTLYE
Chief Operating Officer
A native of Staten Island, NY, Brian ‘Wes’ Westlye has been in the hospitality industry in the South Florida and Washington, DC markets for over eighteen years with a variety of experiences and has risen the ranks of the industry. Starting as a door man in 1998, moving to bartending in 2001 and promoted to management by 2003, he truly has worked every position in the business. As a four year veteran of the United States Navy, leadership and performing under stressful situations always brought out the best in Wes, so Management was a natural career progression. After nine years of being a bar manager, kitchen manager, General Manager and finally a multi-unit Manager, Wes stepped out on his own and opened up his first shop.
In May of 2014, Rebellion was successfully opened at 1836 18th St NW and quickly garnered major DC attention, ranking in Zagat as one of DC’s Hottest Bars of 2014. Two and a half years in and Rebellion continues to outperform all initial expectations with no signs of slowing up.
In February of 2016, The Armory at Rebellion was opened up and has become a popular destination for cocktail and Whiskey enthusiasts. Just four short days after The Armory was opened, renovations began on a new project; a management contract with Veranda Restaurant. Wes was brought in to redesign, re-concept and re-open the fledgling establishment. On April 7th, 2016 The Commodore Public House & Kitchen opened its doors for the first time, has immediately become a staple in the Logan Circle neighborhood and is on pace to more than double the sales of the previous concept.
Chief Creative Officer
Francisco is an award winning Architect and Designer who has over 30 years’ experience in the restaurant and nightclub industry and over 16 years in restaurant, bar and hospitality design. He holds a Bachelor of Arts and Sciences and a Bachelor of Architecture from Catholic University of America and has completed studies in two highly esteemed honors programs in Europe—the Rhode Island School of Design, Italy and L’Ecole Des Beaux Arts, France. He is an AIA member and is licensed in DC, Maryland, Virginia, Pennsylvania, Florida and North Carolina.
TRAVIS M WEISS
Director of Culinary Concepts
Travis began his culinary journey at a very young age cooking in his home with his mother. As much as he appreciated and enjoyed building furniture and working on the family vehicles with his father, his love and passion for cooking soon became very apparent. In high school Travis opted to participate in the vocational school associated to his high school and began taking culinary arts classes. He quickly became a standout in his class and was encouraged by his instructor to join V.I.C.A (Vocational and Industrial Clubs of America) and start competing in their skills competitions. Being a competitive person, Travis loved and flourished in the V.I.C.A. events, placing top 5 nationally in the 2 years he competed at the Nationals in Kansas City. He also competed on the Quiz Bowl team, think jeopardy, and his team took silver at the nationals. Needless to say Travis loves random facts and information.
After high school Travis decided college, instead of Culinary School, was the wise choice as he one day wanted to raise a family and not have to subject them to the “industry lifestyle.” Travis studied Criminology and Criminal Justice at the University of Maryland and began to plan for a life in federal law enforcement. While in college Travis bartended at a local bar called Cornerstone and also worked part time at UPS as a package sorter.
During his final year at UMD Travis interned and then ended up taking a full time job with the Homeland security division of the US Environmental Protection Agency. Travis worked closely with contractors helping to provide proper security and intelligence sharing in a now post 9/11 world. Travis was responsible in helping all EPA facilities meet the US Marshalls building security standards created after the Oklahoma city bombing. At first, this job was exciting and rewarding for Travis as he was tasked with spending time in a new city or state almost weekly.
In 2006, Travis was called on by a friend who managed Buffalo Billiards in DuPont Circle to lend some bartending experience on weekend nights as he was very short staffed. It didn’t take long for Travis to start getting the itch to be back in the industry. The rush and energy of a busy bar or restaurant were something he was missing with his full time job. Travis decided to take the leap back into the hospitality industry fulltime and quit the day job.
Travis accepted a job as a bartender/assistant general manager/kitchen manager for a small pub called Porters. It didn’t take long before he was fixing the menu and dishes that didn’t meet his expectations and Porters quickly became a very hot lunch spot. Travis would show up hours before he was scheduled so he could prep daily specials and try out new dishes. He would then carry out all of the day to day ops, bartend and wait tables during the lunch rush and happy hour.
A regular and friends of Travis’s was a very skilled and well known chef named Russel Cunningham. Travis was considering going back to Culinary School, Russel convinced and suggested that Travis come work for him at a new Brewpup opening up called Mad Fox Brewing Company. He said “why the hell would you go to school when I can give you a better education and you’ll get paid while doing it?” This was the turning point in Travis’s career and his life. Under the tutelage of Russel and his French trained Sous Chef, Sean Swasey, Travis learned butchering, classic recipes and techniques as well as innovative and modern approaches to cooking such as compression, sous vide and molecular gastronomy.
When Russel moved on to another establishment Travis took his new found and acquired skills and passion to Belle Haven Country Club to work for 1 year under an idol of his named Greg Sharp. Working for Greg taught Travis how to prep and cook for parties of 500+ guests as well as private and intimate fine dining events. Under Greg’s guidance, Travis began spending a large amount of his time learning how to make homemade sausages and cured meats as well as ice creams and gelatos.
After his time at BHCC was up Travis joined the Matchbox Food Group as sous chef for the newly opened Teds Bulletin in DC. Travis would later go on to assist in opening 2 more Teds Bulletins and 1 Matchbox, finding a knack for training and helping to take a kitchen from empty to fully operational and organized, ready for business. The time with Matchbox taught Travis the very valuable practice of systems and being organized and in control of your operation. Inventory, budget planning, pars, order guides and projections all gave Travis more tools in his arsenal in becoming a well-rounded Chef.
In 2014 Travis was presented with the opportunity to return to Mad Fox Brewing Company as the executive chef overseeing the pub and the newly opened taproom in DC. This was Travis’s first chance to put all of his experience’s and acquired skills paired together with his own unique cooking style and talent to use. Travis quickly got to work building his systems and revamping the old menu. Food sales quickly saw a boost as well as a lowered food cost and controlled labor. Travis hit all of his bonus goals in his first quarter and in his first full year food sales went from 58% to 70%.
Travis formally met Wes in 2014 as a regular patron of Rebellion, a local favorite hangout for Travis and his wife Carolina. What started as regular shop talk soon became more about work philosophy, standards, ethics and relationships. Wes and Travis soon began to see that working together could benefit each of them immensely. Travis could do food his way without anyone holding him back and Wes could round out Rebellion as a real player in the City with an improved food program.
In January of 2016 Travis joined the Rebellion family as their executive chef. Change was quickly noticed both in the culture of the kitchen and in the most important area, sales. In just 3 months, food sales tripled. In April, Travis was moved from Rebellion to a roll under the PROOFhospitality group overseeing Rebellion and the Commodore Public House & Kitchen. Travis was now responsible for both kitchens along with an operational responsibility for both restaurants.
May brought along the Burger Days/Capital Meats Burger throw down pitting Travis against DC’s best Chefs, fighting for the title of DC’s best burger. Travis walked away with the people’s choice and took silver from the Judges. Travis’s love and passion for making the best and most creative burgers has garnered him a reputation and a nickname as the Burger Ambassador.
In June, Travis’s vision and dedication to PROOF and its projects was rewarded with equity in the company. Along with his share, Travis has become an integral part of the team in the planning and execution of a bigger and brighter future for PROOF.