Chicago native Ricky Diarmit made his first foray into the restaurant industry at age 12, working weekends as a busboy in the restaurant where his mother waited tables. By 18, he was bartending in a neighborhood bar in Albany Park, and had started working at the North Shore Country Club in Glenview. At the Country Club, Diarmit wore several hats, establishing a pattern of versatility in the industry that persists until the present day: while serving as the club’s morning baker, lunch grill cook, and evening bartender, Diarmit also found the time to earn a degree in food service technology.
In 1991, Diarmit accepted a bartending and beverage management position at Bucktown institution Club Lucky. In his seven years at Club Lucky, Diarmit met future partner Donald Madia, and in 1997 they opened the venerable Blackbird Restaurant, the West Loop’s farm-to-table pioneer. Capitalizing on Blackbird’s success, in 2003 Diarmit collaborated on the opening of perennially popular avec restaurant next door to Blackbird. Today, Diarmit remains a daily fixture in managing both Blackbird and avec.