The Two-Handed Fish Sandwich at Calico Fish Dwelling./Photo courtesy of American Gravy Restaurant Team.

Andrew Gruel is a rapid-casual guy, and he strategies to continue being a quickly-casual guy.

But when an option arrived up for a waterfront residence on the Southern California coast with a huge patio about 24 hrs following he exited from the fast-everyday Slapfish concept he established in 2011, it was clearly time to give comprehensive-services a spin, he explained.

Enter Calico Fish Home, which Gruel and his spouse Lauren Gruel opened before this month in Sunset Seashore, Calif.

It is a seafood chophouse with an emphasis on sustainable (certified by the Aquaculture Stewardship Council) fish and a comprehensive bar. The menu improvements day-to-day, centered on what’s in season and accessible, and company can choose their principal and sides, like a steakhouse. Sides are much more artistic than the regular creamed spinach or sauteed asparagus, and may possibly incorporate dishes like a lobster-stuffed baked potato, for case in point, or pretzel-crusted crab tots.

Calico has a comprehensive raw bar and basically grilled alternatives, but also handheld sandwiches and burgers, for people looking for a faster bite. The about 4,500-square foot location has about 80 seats indoors and an additional 90-100 on the patio, and counter ordering to-go is also readily available.

Calico Fish House interior

The bar at Calico Fish Dwelling./Photograph courtesy of American Gravy Restaurant Team.

It is built to be a flagship for Gruel’s American Gravy Restaurant Team, which includes a increasing portfolio of models the chef designs to scale—including Calico.

A spinoff of the full-service brand name called Calico Mini is scheduled to open up in a new Kitchen area United Blend outlet in Santa Monica, Calif., this thirty day period. Calico Mini will concentration additional on Lobster Rolls and chowder.

Also at the Mix foodstuff corridor will be two far more Gruel-produced makes: 101 Burger and Lolo’s Tacos. Becoming a member of them a little bit afterwards will be his Two Birds (rooster sandwiches) and Butterleaf (vegetables with no “fake meat”), two a lot more rapidly-relaxed ideas that are at the moment running in a food corridor in close by Irvine, Calif.

101 Burger

101 Burger will be among the the principles going into a Kitchen United Blend food items corridor in Santa Monica this thirty day period./Picture courtesy of American Gravy Restaurant Group.

American Gravy’s portfolio also features Significant Parm Pizza (New Jersey-design and style pizza, salads, sandwiches), which is in a meals corridor in Tustin, Calif.

Gruel plans to sign-up all of the principles for franchising this 12 months, which include the comprehensive-service Calico.

And he is producing a further entire-services concept: A Mediterranean manufacturer that he just cannot yet identify. The lease hasn’t been finalized, but he’s searching at a 300- to 400-seat location in Southern California with a total bar.

As Gruel looks to scale the family of brand names he has established, he claimed the crucial is co-tenancy, and setting up the quick-casual brands with a pretty-centered menu of one particular or two merchandise.

He is also a believer in making scalable ideas that really don’t require a hood—and not mainly because of the debate about the regulation of fuel stoves.

Fundamentally, “The value of putting gasoline into a restaurant is truly the prohibitive ingredient since of the hood,” he said. “People get rid of a million bucks on a restaurant in six months, and then they flip it in excess of and they simply cannot get pennies on the greenback for it for the reason that you make out that infrastructure for the mechanical and all the hood things, it is like $250,000.”

For Calico Mini, for illustration, breads can be toasted on an electric griddle, soups can be manufactured in a commissary and Gruel is discovering the use of electrical hoodless fryers.

The comprehensive-services ideas, having said that, permit Gruel place to play with the menu and diversify.

“I just noticed with fast relaxed that price ranges are expanding so a lot and that the margins are so thin with what we want to be equipped to pay back when it arrives to labor and a residing wage and all that, that we would fare a large amount much better in a more substantial footprint with a entire bar and the chance to have people today sit down,” he said.

Gruel reported his company’s turnover is very reduced, in aspect simply because they fork out very well. Hourly employees can make $25 to $30 for each hour, for case in point, but all those greater labor fees are offset by greater retention premiums.

American Gravy is also a big supporter of veterans, who get a blanket 50% discounted, and friends can spherical up their checks to help Save the Courageous, a software built to prevent suicide that offers fishing excursions to veterans working with publish-traumatic worry.

Gruel and his spouse also established the nonprofit 86 Restaurant Battle through the pandemic to support restaurant workforce in need to have by providing no cost meals.

These are factors that can scare off buyers, Gruel claimed, which is why he is “bootstrapping” growth with the aid of close friends and family members for now.

“My spouse and I want to do as much as we can ourselves, at minimum in the commencing, so we can stick to the roots of what we’re undertaking,” he stated. “We’re having it one particular day at a time, and what operates, performs.”


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