So what's the latest on Herringbone, will it be opening next month? Is it going to be Italian cuisine?
Herringbone [outside of San Diego] is opening in early May. We don't like to use terminology like "Italian" - I don't make "Italian food" because people have pre-conceived notions of what that is. We won't have pizza but we will have essentially those kind of Italian-y carbs on the menu. We're going to offer exotic surf and turfs, we've been cooking with duck fat, pork and scallops together, etc.
That'll make five restaurants for you in San Diego, are you going to go for number six?
I never know what we're planning. [Smiles.] James my partner is the one that finds the property, and I'm the one that picks the "fabric," plans the menu, and Thomas does the design. I don't think we're going to open any more in SD right now. We're opening Searsucker in Arizona in October.
Exciting. So in terms of the national expansion: 15 restaurant in 5 years? Is that figure correct?
I would say it's actually going to be more than that. The ones I'm going to brand out are going to be Searsucker, Burlap and Herringbone. The first three will probably all be Searsuckers.
Are you considering NY? [Smiles.] I don't know what's going on with the properties really, I'm constantly getting addresses texted to me.
Well besides building a national empire, what else are you working on?
We have a lot of stuff going on. We're doing a wine label right now, a beer label, a potential cook book, TV show. We just did the lettuce festival in Yuma! Plus I have three kids. [Laughs.]
Wow. Do you ever sleep?
It's actually working out really good for me because I have the morning - I lead the new restaurants like the first month, but after that I have the morning at home, I go to the restaurant for lunch and I come back and hang out in the afternoon. And from 6-11 PM, I can hit all the restaurants up because the kids are going to sleep.
Was it always your plan to have a restaurant empire?
My plan was to have one restaurant! My partner is very ambitious, when one place he works he's like let's do it again!
Why the fabric names?
Searsucker came about because we were driving by the Del Mar race track and I was complaining to my wife that I didn't get to wear my seersucker suit to opening day. And she was like: 'that's actually a pretty good name for a restaurant.' We looked it up and it has a food connotation as well - it's a Hindu word that means milk and sugar, the way it ripples. In the early 1900s, the fabric was worn by the lower classes because you didn't have to iron it and it didn't wrinkle and it was adopted by these rich kids at this college and forever made it the fashion statement of summer. So I thought it was perfect for what we were doing. You're dressed up but you're not overdressed. And the fact that it says "suck" in the restaurant name - I loved that. I was just waiting for a food writer to say 'it sucks,' 'it doesn't suck' - it would have been just too easy. My partner liked the idea of doing more fabrics too so after Searsucker, we were like hey, let's do it again.