Role: General Manager
Serving Since: 2019
Email Vijayakumar Raj, CCM, CRDE
Vijayakumar “Vijay” Raj was born and raised in Bangalore, India. After receiving his Bachelor’s degree in 1991, he moved to the U.S. to study at Johnson & Wales University where he obtained a Master of Science in Hospitality Administration. Vijay has worked in the hospitality industry with companies including Swissotel and Starwood. He has served in different leadership role in the private clubs industry for the past 18 years in Washington, DC and Singapore.
Vijay is a Certified Club Manager (CCM) from Club Managers Association of America and a Certified Rooms Division Executive (CRDE) from the American Hotel & Lodging Association. Additionally, he has advanced certifications from Cornell University in revenue management, and marketing and food service management.
With his extensive background in private clubs and hotels, Vijay brings a thorough understanding of the life cycle and value of members and guests, as well as a passion for new challenges and helping teams achieve long-term visions. He is a dedicated volunteer at several community outreach programs and enjoys mentoring future leaders, which helps him foster great relationships with the community in which he lives and works.
Vijay has received several scholarships, commendations for his dedication, professionalism and leadership skills, and is a member of the Club Managers Association of America, Club Managers Association of Singapore, Johnson & Wales University Alumni Association and Cornell Hotel Society.
In his spare time, Vijay enjoys quality moments with family and friends, volunteering with local community organizations, traveling, photography and has quickly become of a fan of Chicago sports.
Tina was born and raised in Ohio and has lived in Chicago since 2000. Before joining The Metropolitan in 2017, she worked in higher education as a communications director, helping to strengthen academic research, student recruitment and donor relations. Tina joins our team with a strong entrepreneurial spirit. For the last four years, as an independent consultant, she has helped develop and guide pr strategy and brand development for local businesses.
Tina graduated cum laude from The Ohio State University with two Bachelor of Arts degrees in journalism and Modern Greek, and a Master of Arts in public affairs reporting from Columbia Chicago.
She is a classically trained pianist who also loves to sing, paint, dance and has a passion for the visual and performing arts. In her free time, Tina enjoys live music, biking, traveling, photography and entertaining with family and friends.
Helen was born and raised in Eritrea, North East Africa. She come in as a refugee with her parents, five brothers, and sister to Indianapolis 1994.
Helen graduate from Indiana University Purdue University at Indianapolis (IUPUI) with a degree in Computer Technology.
Helen began her career with ClubCorp family as a Server/Captain at the Skyline Club in Indianapolis in 1999. In 2004 Helen began working at the Metropolitan Club as Supervisor/Assistant Banquet Manager, where she oversaw many private and member based events. Later she would take on additional duties as major changes swept through the banquet department and become a Service Director.
In her free time, Helen enjoys spending her time with her husband, Berhane, and her three children, Nathal (14), twins Hermella and Hermon (10). Loves traveling with her family and friends around the world.
Craig Barnard-El is a Chicago native that began his career in competitive tumbling and gymnastics. As a former Jesse White Tumbler, Craig achieved collegiate success winning 2 national titles with the University of Louisville, earned a spot as a member of the 2000 USA Worlds team all while earning his Bachelor of Arts in Theater.
In 2004, Craig parlayed his competitive success into a successful business. As a successful entrepreneur, he created a successful private tumbling, cheerleading and fitness club. The RFG Group included three gyms in two states, a camp company and an apparel company.
In 2017, Craig sold his companies and pursued a career in consulting and hospitality. He currently lives in Lake County with his husband of 10 years.
Born and raised in Anderson, IN, David went to college at North Carolina State University on a swimming scholarship and graduated with a double major in History and Political Science. After receiving his Master’s Degree in Secondary Education, David spent 20+ years as a sales executive for multiple companies. Prior to joining The Metropolitan team, he was an Account Executive for CBS4 TV in Indianapolis. David enjoys exercising, watching sports, writing and working on his stand-up comedy routine. He also loves spending time with his Yorkie Terrier, Sophie, his friends, family and fiance, Kim.
Lorena was born & raised in the suburbs of Chicago, and graduated from the University of Iowa with a degree in Communication Studies. She immediately gained experience in the hospitality industry after college working at Soldier Field. Lorena joined the ClubCorp family in 2013 as a Membership assistant, and loves her role as a Private Event Director. When she's not at work, Lorena enjoys rec league sports with her friends, traveling and listening to music.
Sally is from Chicago, IL and graduated from Baylor University with a degree in Business Management and a minor in Corporate Communications. Her background in marketing and corporate event planning will be a huge plus for The Metropolitan.
Originally from Metro Detroit, Brittney earned her Bachelor's Degree from Central Michigan University in Hospitality and Event Management. She moved in 2012 to further pursue her passion for events in Chicago. Brittney has planned over 1,500 Weddings, Mitzvahs, Corporate Events and Black Tie Galas. When Brittney's not at work, she enjoys traveling, sporting events and playing with her Pomeranian Dog, Max.
Our Gary is a native Chicagoan who began his career with Marriott International at 17 where he developed a passion for food and beverage. He moved up through the service and managerial ranks before moving onto Chicago’s iconic Palmer House Hilton. Leaving Chicago to broaden his experience, exposure, and travel he worked with Norwegian Cruise Lines in multiple national and international mega ships. Gary was with Smith & Wollensky before joining us at The Metropolitan! He is currently working and studying his way through the levels within The Court of Master Sommeliers.
Coming back to Near West Suburbs after life at sea, Gary enjoys working out, traveling, cooking, wine and bourbon tasting, sports (Die hard Cubs and Bears fan), dog sledding with his Siberian Husky, and spending time with family and friends.
Role: Executive Chef
Serving Since: 1984
Email Greg Carso
Greg’s love of food comes from his Italian background and his techniques—he uses his hands to create delicious creations. Greg attended Chicago’s Washburne Trade School and then La Varenne Ecole de Cuisine in Paris before working at Levy Restaurants organization, an off-premise catering company, and the Cash House restaurant. In addition to the Metropolitan Club, Chef Carso has worked at several other ClubCorp clubs.
He is well known for his messy kitchens while experimenting and creating new and different cuisines. Greg Carso believes the messier the kitchen the better, “One of the things I love most about being a chef is the ‘high’ I get after a hectic day of trouble-shooting and making things work.” Greg Carso is available for speaking engagements, cooking demonstrations, and hosting.
Chef Carso has participated in various dinners from celebrities, politicians, and famous athletes. He has been involved with James Beard Celebrity Chef dinners, cooking with former White House chefs to celebrity chefs from the Food Channel. He has been honored as an alumnus from Washburne Trade School and is involved with an inner city organization “Break Through” that teaches teenagers how to cook.