Can you tell me about yourself?
I have two selves. A work self and an outside work self. My work self is almost robotic, work for me is a 100% eye on the prize mentality. When I walk through that door, everything changes. I work towards a goal at the exclusion of everything else. I’m kind of impatient and want to accomplish the goal right now. It’s the nature of the hospitality business, it’s a real time business, you don’t have the luxury to contemplate how it can evolve, you have to think on your feet and do it right there.
Can you talk about your creative process when you open a new restaurant?
Opening a new restaurant is 100% experience design. We try to put ourselves in the guest’s shoes and try to think about it from their side. You have to think about what happens from the initial engagement all the way to the time they leave. For example, when the guests walk in, are they welcomed by the staff, is there warmth? You have to go through a mental list on what would make the guests feel welcome.
Why did you build Angler?
I wanted a simple American seafood place. I wanted a salad without a bunch of sh*t on it. I wanted a roasted chicken without all this extra sh*t on it. You get that at Japanese restaurants and Chinese restaurants but it's hard to find that at American restaurants. I want straight forward good products.
In a way I built Angler for myself.
A big part of this is all the fisherman I have worked with throughout the years. I get live products. I developed relationships with a lot of fisherman. I can get different live fish you can’t get anywhere else. I wanted to use these products with exceptional quality. I wanted a simple family style restaurant.
You come in, have a great time, the music is a little louder, pace is faster, and it’s meant to be fun.
How did you come up with the name Angler?
We sell a lot fish, pretty straight forward.
I wanted something super down to Earth, here is what it is, face value, no bullsh*t attached to it, very black and white.
In the past we talked about the role technology has on the food industry. Do you have thoughts there? Do you think technology helps or hurts the restaurant business?
Technology helps the food industry for sure but regarding Yelp, I agree with what Anthony Bourdain has to say.
Anthony Bourdain on Yelpers:
“There's really no worse, or lower human being than an elite Yelper. They're universally loathed by chefs everywhere. They are the very picture of entitled, negative energy. They're bad for chefs, they're bad for restaurants. You know, you open a restaurant, you struggle for a year to put together the money, you work your heart out, and then 10 minutes after opening, some miserable b------ is tweeting or Yelping, "Worst. Dinner. Ever." It's like, dude. That ain't right. Nah, no sympathy there. And I think you'd have a very hard time finding a chef who has anything nice to say about elite Yelpers. It's a contradiction of terms. It's like jumbo shrimp. How can you be elite and a Yelper? I'm perfectly happy with Instagram and Twitter as a fully democratic bathroom wall that anyone can write on. And they do. It's up to us to translate what we — to winnow out useful information that we might use in a sensible way from this seemingly chaotic yet democratic scrawl put up by many different people with many different points of view. I think increasingly, that's the way we're gonna have to get — it's already the way we get our information, it's already how we get our news. Why not make decisions about restaurants the same way? I think that's inevitable. This is the new world we have to live in, all of us.”
Very few people objectively understand food, or have the rolodex to objectively understand food, for that reason Yelp is just ridiculous.
Some people don’t like the color purple on walls. And for example do some Yelpers really have the knowledge to judge lets say Jiro’s fish?
What are your top 3 go to restaurants in San Francisco?
It’s such a great bargain (joking). Hamano is totally different in every way, there is a maturity to the cooking, it’s real food, food that is meant to be enjoyed, no bullsh*t. It’s real food in its own genre. Honestly it’s the hardest thing to find in American cooking, there’s so much silliness.
It’s delicious. I crave Mala. It’s genuine and accurate to its origin.
It’s an icon in SF cooking, honest and real food. Very few people cook at her level. The food there is underrated, wholesome. It seems like home cooking but it’s high level cooking.
To learn more about Joshua Skenes, visit www.joshuaskenes.com
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