Cary Michael

Cary Michael began his career working for Lettuce Entertain You Enterprises, where over a six-year period, he honed his skills as a seasoned restaurant operator. Gino’s East Pizzeria, Bub City Crabshack and BBQ, Papagus Greek Taverna, and P.J. Clarke’s all gave him a unique experience, but the pinnacle of his stay with Lettuce was reached during the opening of Petterino’s at the Goodman Theatre, where he worked closely with Richard Melman in all phases of the restaurants opening.

In 2002, Cary joined the opening team of Bob Chinn’s Crabhouse, where he was brought on as Operations Manager of their new project in Chicago.  During opening, Cary was responsible for hiring and staffing, which is where he first struck up a relationship with Michael Quinlan, which neither would have expected to lead to an eventual partnership.

In February of 2004, Cary joined the Rockit Ranch team, owned by Bradley Young and longtime friend Billy Dec. Cary was hired as the General Manager of the highly anticipated Rockit Bar and Grill, overseeing all aspects of this 12,000 square foot, two level space. Rockit has been an instant hit since it opened its doors in July 2004, and much of that can be attributed to Cary, which is why he was rewarded with partnership soon after opening.

In 2009 Cary decided it was time to branch off on his own and create a neighborhood restaurant, Branch 27, in the West Town neighborhood of Chicago, which was named by Chicago Magazine as one of the 20 best new restaurants in May of 2010.

After 5 years in the full service restaurant, Cary was approached by longtime friend Michael Quinlan about a bar concept that he was trying to develop, with the focus being local craft beer.  Based on Cary’s skills and experience in running restaurants, it seemed like a perfect match.  The two put their heads together and got to work to try and fill a gap in the Chicago bar market.

After spending the next year + developing their concept, Links Taproom was born.


Michael Quinlan

Quinlan has worked in almost every facet of the restaurant industry. He started his journey at age 14, when he began working as a crewperson at McDonald’s. From there, Quinlan went on to work in various restaurants throughout his 20s in Chicago an its suburbs including the Loon Café  (Italian-American), Bob Chinn’s Crab House (seafood), Marigold (Indian), and Chipotle (Mexican).

Quinlan has worked almost every station in a restaurant, from washing dishes, cold prep, sauté, kitchen manager, serving, bartending, and front house manager.

In spring of 2011, Quinlan finished up the last of his undergraduate work at Loyola University Chicago’s Rome Campus with an eye towards pursuing his PhD in History to become a professor. That summer, he travelled to Seattle, WA and Portland, OR, experienced the craft beer scene there, and knew he had to bring that vibe back to Chicago with him. Quinlan soon became a Cicerone Certified Beer Server, and will complete his Cicerone Certification in March of this year.

Several months later, Quinlan and Cary Michael would have a fateful conversation in which the very first ideas about Links Taproom would emerge. Quinlan and Michael had worked together at Bob Chinn’s in Chicago, and recognized the opportunity to work together again would lead to great things. After working hard to secure a space and fully develop the concept, Quinlan and Michael opened the doors to Links Taproom to the public on January 11, 2014.