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Founder and Chief Executive Officer

Johan Engman

Founder and Chief Executive Officer

Johan Engman

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Johan Engman was born and raised in Östersund, Sweden before moving to San Diego in 1997 at the age of 16. One year later, he moved out on his own while still in high school, working nights as a dishwasher to pay rent. He was promoted to busser, then server, and continued working at multiple restaurants throughout San Diego until 25 years old. Realizing his passion for the industry, Engman gave himself two years to save money to open his own restaurant.

On October 9th, 2008 Engman opened Fig Tree Cafe in Pacific Beach with a shoestring budget of $45,000. After three months of losing money, he was faced with a tough decision. To close the restaurant and make some drastic changes to my life, or somehow come up with a way to keep the doors open? Many people suggested that Engman close the place down. “The economy is terrible Johan, nobody will blame you for closing,” they’d say. Due to his stubbornness and determination, Engman decided that under no circumstances would he throw in the towel. He limited the hours of operation for the restaurant as much as possible and finagled his way into a full-time job in the accounting department of a pharmaceutical company (long story on how he managed to pull that off without any experience). Engman managed to pay personal bills and offset the losses of the restaurant for three years after opening until the restaurant finally turned a profit. In 2011, Engman left the corporate job and opened Fig Tree Cafe’s second location.

Engman has always been an avid traveler. It’s a way for him to recharge his batteries while being inspired by new countries, cultures, and cuisines. He vividly remembers being in a hut next to the Danum River in the rainforest of Borneo during a day when it couldn’t seem to stop pouring down rain. He was thinking about Fig Tree Café and the aspects of its concept that could be improved. In lieu of drastically changing it, Engman decided to conceptualize a new restaurant utilizing what I’d learned from opening and running Fig Tree Café. He knew he wanted to simplify things and ensure that the consumer could identify and relate to the concept. Engman believed that breakfast was a severely underserved market and had lots of room for growth, not to mention that the San Diego consumer really seemed to love the first meal of the day, along with the boozy brunches that come with it.

Twelve hours later the rain was still pouring and the name “California Breakfast Republic” was born. The original idea for the logo was not what it is today, but not terribly far from it. Engman continued adding ideas such as a heavy emphasis on design and branding, a menu that was unique, yet still offered the classics, and incorporating hidden puns and quotes throughout the restaurant that the consumer would discover over multiple visits.

Breakfast Republic (later decided to drop “California” from the name) opened its doors in North Park on July 26th, 2015. The attention to detail (such as quirky quotes printed on the undersides of coffee cups, funny and sarcastic sayings on our napkin bands, life-sized “egg” chairs, bathroom “music” and mirrors along with custom-made branded t-shirts and caps) were a hit from the beginning.

Almost exactly one year later Breakfast Republic’s second location in Liberty Station opened, followed by several more spots over the next several years. New Breakfast Republics continue to pop up in San Diego, expanding to Orange County and beyond. Engman’s restaurants are under the umbrella of Rise and Shine Hospitality Group, which includes other successful restaurants; Feast and Fareway, Eggies, Gaslamp Breakfast Company, California Taco Club with more to come. Stay tuned!

In addition to owning and operating restaurants Engman enjoys traveling and the outdoors with his wife Yasmin, son, and two dogs. They are also guilty of immersing ourselves in a good Netflix binge from time to time!

CHIEF OPERATING OFFICER

Cesar Garcia

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Cesar Garcia is the Corporate Executive Chef for Rise & Shine Restaurant Group. Cesar has many years of culinary experience working in the kitchen for international brand hotels such as Four Points by Sheraton to Peohe’s serving breakfast for the San Diego Chargers NFL team. Cesar also gained significant knowledge and leadership experience during his employment with Gordon Biersch and Yard House as part of the management teams.

Cesar joined the Rise & Shine Restaurant Group in 2011 working at the Fig Tree Cafe Pacific Beach location. In 2014 he transferred to the Fig Tree Cafe Liberty Station location where he assumed the Executive Kitchen Manager position. It wasn’t before long that he was proving himself fit for the Corporate Executive Chef position with the Rise & Shine Restaurant Group. As the company was, and currently is, growing, Cesar now oversees all restaurants and is excited to be apart of all the new restaurant openings in the near future.

Outside of work, Cesar enjoys spending time with his friends and family. Born and raised in La Paz, a small fishing town in Baja Mexico, Cesar grew up a die-hard soccer fan and soaking up the sun along the warm beaches of the Sea of Cortez. He enjoys visiting new restaurants to explore other chefs creations and is always observing nature for colorful plate inspirations and his own new tasty creations. When asked, Cesar states the foundation for a great business lies within respect and loyalty among each other.

Chief Financial Officer

Sarah King

Chief Financial Officer

Sarah King

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Sarah was born and raised on a Christmas tree farm in Allentown, New Jersey. She began her career in the hospitality industry at the age of 15 bussing tables, serving, bartending and eventually managing. She attended the University of Delaware where she graduated with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Finance. In 2006, seeking new challenges in a new city, she made the cross-country move to San Diego. For the next 9 years she worked in various local restaurants in numerous roles, always following her passion for hospitality, while applying her education in business and accounting.

Sarah’s love for the industry and accounting merged in September, 2015, when she became a part of Rise and Shine Hospitality Group. Currently, she heads the HR/Accounting Department.

Sarah’s other loves are music and sports, and when she’s not working you will likely find her at a concert or a game.

CORPORATE SOUS CHEF

May Ortiz

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Maryella “May” Ortiz Was born in San Diego but raised in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico. At the age of 18 she moved to Guadalajara to pursue a career in Graphic Design. But, falling in love with the food culture she found her true calling inside the kitchen. She moved back to Cabo to study Culinary Arts, where started working in the industry as a line cook in a Mediterranean Restaurant in Baja.

In 2015, wanting bigger challenges that what Cabo had to offer, she applied to be part of the opening team of Javier Plascencia’s “Bracero”, and moved back to her hometown. At Bracero, starting as a Prep Cook she moved up the ranks to become one of the restaurants Sous Chefs. Parting ways with Bracero in 2016, she joined The Patio Group in their newly open “Fireside” restaurant where she lead their prep team.

In May 2017, seeking a bigger challenge in her career, May joined Rise and Shine Restaurant Group as their Corporate Sous Chef.

Corporate Sous Chef

Daniel Villegas

Corporate Sous Chef

Daniel Villegas

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Born in San Diego and raised in Tijuana, Daniel Villegas started his culinary career at the age of 18 as a dishwasher at California Pizza Kitchen, where he quickly moved up in rank until he became a kitchen trainer.

Deciding to pursue his passion, Danny enrolled in Southwestern College’s culinary program, studying under one of the partners of San Diego’s Saiko Sushi, he got invited to form part of the opening team of their first location in Coronado.

In 2014, he decided to move back to Mexico and continue his culinary education at the Culinary Arts School in Tijuana. During his studies he was able to do an internship at Quintonil in Mexico City, one of the 50 best restaurants in the world.

After returning to San Diego, wanting to apply his acquired knowledge in Mexican cuisine, Danny decided to join Javier Plascencia’s team at Bracero Cocina, where he worked as a line cook. Then, in 2016 he returned to Saiko Sushi Coronado as their Sous Chef.

Moving forward, he worked as a Lead Cook at The Cork and Craft in Rancho Bernardo, working under Chef Phillip Esteban, and as kitchen supervisor at Provisional at the Pendry Hotel in San Diego, working under Chef Christopher Osborne.

In mid 2018, he joined Rise and Shine Hospitality Group to lead the opening of their new eatery; North Park Breakfast Company. While the concept was in the works, he helped develop menus and systems for the group’s newest projects, and eventually became Feast and Fareway’s Executive Chef, moving up to be one of the company’s corporate Sous Chefs.

Operations Manager

Carmina Katigbak

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Carmina Katigbak has been an operations manager for Breakfast Republic since the fall of 2016. She graduated from San Diego State where she studied Public Administration and Hospitality. She has worked in a variety of concepts in the last 21 years, from her first job as a gum-smacking server at a 50’s themed diner to a bartender at an Asian Fusion restaurant to a decade spent running the first sustainable sushi restaurant in Southern CA.

Breakfast is her main focus now and she enjoys the challenge of continuously elevating San Diego’s brunch experience with the R&S restaurant group. When she’s not trying to make #dogsofbreakfastrepublic a ‘thing’ she enjoys spending time with her family and pups.

OPERATIONS MANAGER

Heather Ross

OPERATIONS MANAGER

Heather Ross

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Heather born in San Diego but spent her childhood years in Orange County California. She moved to Temecula in her early twenties where she acquired a bar-tending position with P.F. Chang’s when they opened in 2009. Rising through the ranks, she ended back down in San Diego as a hospitality and bar manager where she quickly became the Operating Partner for the P.F. Chang’s in the Fashion Valley Mall. She joined the Rise and Shine Group in November 2017. Heather is excited for this new venture and motivated to assist in the success of the company.

Accounting Manager

Courtney Davis

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Courtney was born and raised in Cromwell, Connecticut where her love for the restaurant industry was discovered. At sixteen, she was hired as a busser at a local breakfast restaurant, it wasn’t long before she became lead server. Able to juggle work and school, she graduated from Central Connecticut State University with a Bachelor’s in Accounting. She accepted a position in the Finance Department of a large healthcare conglomerate creating the corporation’s budget.

Due to her adventurous spirit, it was apparent that she was ready to move on, so she packed her bags and headed to beautiful Southern California. Once settled in her new home of San Diego, Courtney joined Rise and Shine Restaurant Group. Courtney started as a bookkeeper and has since been promoted to the Accounting Manager. She is excited to continue her career which joins both of her passions; accounting and hospitality.

Being extremely active and adventurous, Courtney enjoys watching and playing sports, playing games, beaching, biking and hiking.

ACCOUNTING

José Alvarez

ACCOUNTING

José Alvarez

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José was born and raised in San Diego. After graduating high school, he spent time working in industries ranging from construction to insurance. In 2016, he moved to Santa Cruz on the Central Coast of California to attend The University of California, Santa Cruz. There, he studied Business Management and Economics, with an emphasis in Accounting. After graduating in 2018, he immediately sought out a career where he could grow with a company that had a culture and values that aligned with his own, all while utilizing the skills and knowledge he had gained over the years. In the fall of 2018, Jose joined the Rise & Shine Hospitality Group’s accounting department, eager for a chance to apply the skills he learned in a business field he is passionate about.

Outside of work, José enjoys reading and drawing, along with recording music.

Regional Training Manager

Isaac Castro

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Born in San Diego but raised in both Tijuana and San Diego, Isaac is a first generation American. His parents always encouraged him to travel to become well-rounded in different cultures. It was his love of travel that caused him to work in the hospitality industry. While saving up for a trip to Aruba, he decided to start working at a restaurant in the evenings to help save up. That was the end for him, He fell in love with every aspect of the industry.

A few years later he started working at P.F. Changs as a server and quickly grew in the ranks. First, he became a certified trainer and quickly started helping with new restaurant openings both locally and internationally. This is where he discovered his love for training and development. Isaac joined the Rise and Shine Hospitality Group as a Regional Training Manager since late 2019 and looks forward to help the company grow.

Corporate Trainer

Luis Diaz

Corporate Trainer

Luis Diaz

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Born in Corona and raised in the Temecula Valley Luis Diaz started his restaurant career at age 16 as a dish washer at P.F. Chang’s where he rapidly became a trainer and lead. Over the years Luis also worked for Lazy Dog and Yard House. In late 2018 Luis joined Rise and Shine as a kitchen manager for Breakfast Republic. Since then Luis has moved on to become corporate Sous Chef for Rise and Shine and is looking forward to further growth within the company.

Leann Molle

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LeAnn Molle was born in San Diego and grew up in Oxnard, CA. At 19 years old, LeAnn moved to Los Angeles where she began her accounting career working in a range of industries from insurance to travel. After a few years in Los Angeles, LeAnn briefly moved to the alluring Catalina Island where she worked as a server and gained her initial restaurant experience.

With an adventurous spirit, LeAnn left California behind and moved to Sweden where she started a family, studied and obtained a degree in Account/Systems Information and spent the next 18 years.

After raising a family she decided to move back to her roots in San Diego. She obtained a position with Pro Specialties Group, Inc. as an accounting specialist. In 2014, LeAnn left PSG, Inc. and joined Rise & Shine Restaurant Group.

MAINTENANCE

Rene Serrano Valdez

MAINTENANCE

Rene Serrano Valdez

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Rene was born in Acapulco in 1964 and lived there until 1988 when he came to San Diego. Rene immediately went to work for Pizzeria Uno in Pacific Beach and worked there and at other Uno’s in the San Diego and Los Angeles area in the Back of the House, a short stint in the front of the house and as Glenn Miller’s right hand man. It was at this time that Rene started honing his General Maintenance skills which he continues to utilize today. He moved to Seattle in 1998 where he worked with a painting contractor until the economy took a dip in Seattle and there was little to no work available. In 2000 he moved back to Acapulco and worked in the family business. His family took care of a vacation home estate in Acapulco for 30 years. They did everything at the estate from driving guests, cooking, bartending, all of the cleaning, and all of the maintenance.

Rene stayed in Acapulco until 2007 when Miller’s Field opened, at that time Rene moved back to San Diego and worked at Miller’s until 2017 when it was purchased by Breakfast Republic.

Rene very quickly became the “go to maintenance man” for all of the Rise and Shine Restaurants. He handles the painting, equipment repairs, plumbing, minor electrical, delivery of supplies, and anything else that comes up.

Accounting

Luz Coral

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Luz Coral is a first generation Mexican-American born and raised in San Diego. Her love of travel and food began at a young age when her parents, who are both great cooks, took the family throughout Mexico. She studied Business Marketing while working in corporate America supporting C-level executives. In 2011 she joined Ladeki Restaurant Group as the Operations Coordinator and learned what it takes to support a successful restaurant. She later found herself at an organic produce company as the Billing Administrator.

Luz joined Rise & Shine in the summer of 2020 and is excited to work in an industry she is passionate about.

In her free time, she spends time with her family, visits museums, and enjoys the beautiful San Diego weather with her two pups.

Mayor of Shining Moment-ville

Tom Penn

Mayor of Shining Moment-ville

Tom Penn

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Tom Penn specializes in helping burgeoning restaurant groups reach their full potential through disciplined, methodical growth with an emphasis on cultural excellence.  For  decades, Penn has worked with restaurant operation teams to harvest Shining Moments; surprise moments of joyful hospitality that make a real difference.

Penn has over 35 years in executive level hospitality and restaurant experience. After graduating from the McCombs School of Business at the University of Texas in Austin,  he spent 13 years with Hyatt Hotels and Resorts in locations all over the world helping Hyatt deliver their brand of service excellence. Over the next 12 years, he was an integral part of the leadership team of Ladeki Restaurant Group and Sammy’s Woodfired Pizza, opening 8 concepts and 25 restaurants. In the decade to follow, he has served as a growth specialist and Mayor of Shining Moment-Ville, helping service teams bring meaningful hospitality experiences  to their forefront.

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