Big month in the San Diego chef world. Over the last couple of years, chef Mike Reidy helped The Fishery co-owner Annemarie Brown-Lorenz completely revitalize the San Diego classic. About a month ago, he made the hard decision to accept an offer from Travis Swikard at Callie. It was a blow. The Fishery is riding high, working on big remodel plans. What were they to do? Well, no big deal, that night they hired James Beard–nominated chef Jon Bautista, who led the charge at breakout Vietnamese star, Kingfisher.
Oh. Okay. Guess everyone’s good then.
“Timing is everything I guess, isn’t it?” AnneMarie muses. “It was kismet. I still look back and wonder how that happened.”
The day Mike told AnneMarie he was leaving (it’s all very positive, great friends all around), she had plans to meet Jon that night for dinner. They’d known each other for years, and he’d supported her family’s wholesale food company, Pacific Shellfish. What was supposed to be a couple pals just grabbing a bite ended with a job offer over apps.
AnneMarie has not given Jon any parameters, leaving it up to him to earn the trust of the kitchen staff and the restaurant’s regulars. Menu changes won’t be immediate, but they are on the horizon and will feature pops of his California-Asian perspective. “He’ll slowly start peppering things in as seasonality permits,” she says. “We have bonded over our love of vegetables and local farms. He has a toolbox of incredible flavors, and I’m excited to see the evolution of the menu.”
AnneMarie’s father Judd laid the blueprint for The Fishery. The fourth-generation San Diego fisherman was one of the most trusted names in local seafood. That inspired Pacific Shellfish (which distributes seasonal catches to local restaurants), and, in 1980, he and his wife doubled down on an adjoining restaurant. The original concept had an open floor plan and utilized a restored 1930s fish case to stage the local catches. AnneMarie has worked in the restaurant since she was a kid, and she took over the reins a few years ago. Many trips to London with her husband and co-owner Nick helped craft the wine menu and lead to the expansion of a cocktail program.
For the remodel, they’re expelling the fish case and replacing it with a seven-to-eight-seater champagne bar with small bites (the case will simply move next door to the warehouse). AnneMarie is hoping to receive the permit in the next couple of months, at which point the entire menu will be Jon’s.
“This next chapter is going to be really fun,” she says.