Hospitality Design - August 2012 - 79

interview: james brennan
By Stacy Shoemaker Rauen Photography by Chantelle Photography and Chris Orsatti (Burlap)

perspectives

ultimate host
James Brennan first made a name for himself redefining the nightlife scene in downtown San Diego with Side Bar (the first New York-style lounge with bottle service) and Stingaree, a multi-level restaurant, club, and event space. Now he’s bringing his nightlife mentality to restaurants with Enlightened Hospitality Group, a partnership with Top Chef alum and fellow San Diegoan, Brian Malarkey. Since 2009 they have opened five restaurants and a catering company in the San Diego area all based on the “fabric of social dining”: there’s fish restaurant Searsucker; Asian cowboy-inspired Burlap; fish and steakhouse Herringbone; neighborhood diner-like hangout Gingham; casual seafood spot Gabardine; and catering outlet Campine. And that’s just the beginning. They are rolling out the concepts nationwide (Searsucker Scottsdale opens this fall) and by 2017, Brennan has his sights set on having roughly 15 outposts up and running. Here he talks about creating one-stop entertainment, what he learned from Danny Meyer, and offering customers more.

HD: How did Enlightened Hospitality Group come about?
JB: I had known Brian [Malarkey] since he moved to San Diego. When just hope for the best and jump in headfirst. We work incredibly well together. He has blind faith in me on the business side of things, and I have complete blind faith in him from not only a culinary aspect, but also a concept development aspect. He is extremely talented, above and beyond just being able to helm the kitchen.

HD: And the name Enlightened?
JB: That was a name that I came up with when I read Danny Meyer’s book [Setting the Table]. He talks about ‘enlightened hospitality’ and that was something that I had always bought into in the nightclub industry. It’s really the concept that we prided ourselves on and when my life was changing and I was looking more into restaurants, I really enjoyed that book, especially being a New Yorker. I remember when he took over Union Square Café. I went to high school on sixteenth

Guests feel like they are dining outside at Herringbone thanks to olive trees and a retractable roof.
he got here we were just opening up Stingaree and we got to know each other pretty well. He was down the street and would stop by after the kitchen closed and we gabbed along the way about potentially doing something together. Post Top Chef there were grumblings of trouble on the horizon for Oceanaire [where he was executive chef] and he came over to the office and sat down and said, ‘let’s do something.’

street and I used to walk past that place when it was just a crappy diner. And then all of a sudden—what felt like overnight—you’d have lines to get in; you couldn’t even walk through the front door.

HD: The idea of fabric-named restaurants. Where did that stem from?
JB: It started when we were trying to name Searsucker, a little less than three years ago. We had a couple of ideas out there, and Brian was stuck in traffic heading up to LA. It was right after the [Del Mar] racetrack had closed [for the summer] and he said to himself or his wife, ‘Gosh, I didn’t even get to go to the track once this year and bust out my seersucker suit.’ And so that’s literally how it was born—there wasn’t really any thought of the fabrics, it was just a cool, catchy name. But I’m a big believer that names are an important part of your

HD: So it was a good match from the start?
JB: It’s funny because you never really know what you’re going to get in a partner. And a lot of times you don’t really get the luxury of a dating phase, like you do in real life with a real-life partner—sometimes you

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August 2012

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Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Hospitality Design - August 2012

Hospitality Design - August 2012
Contents
Online Contents
From the Editor
From the Show Director
People
Sketchbook
Trends
Competition
Interviews
Jason Wu
Kenneth Cobonpue
HD Boutique Preview
Lighting
Seating
Mirrors
Design-Driven Chefs
Tori Tori
Inbi
Brio
Churrascos
Balena
Back Space
Hospitality Design - August 2012 - Intro
Hospitality Design - August 2012 - Hospitality Design - August 2012
Hospitality Design - August 2012 - Cover2
Hospitality Design - August 2012 - 1
Hospitality Design - August 2012 - 2
Hospitality Design - August 2012 - 3
Hospitality Design - August 2012 - 4
Hospitality Design - August 2012 - 5
Hospitality Design - August 2012 - 6
Hospitality Design - August 2012 - 7
Hospitality Design - August 2012 - 8
Hospitality Design - August 2012 - 9
Hospitality Design - August 2012 - 10
Hospitality Design - August 2012 - 11
Hospitality Design - August 2012 - 12
Hospitality Design - August 2012 - 13
Hospitality Design - August 2012 - 14
Hospitality Design - August 2012 - 15
Hospitality Design - August 2012 - 16
Hospitality Design - August 2012 - 17
Hospitality Design - August 2012 - 18
Hospitality Design - August 2012 - Contents
Hospitality Design - August 2012 - 20
Hospitality Design - August 2012 - 21
Hospitality Design - August 2012 - 22
Hospitality Design - August 2012 - 23
Hospitality Design - August 2012 - 24
Hospitality Design - August 2012 - 25
Hospitality Design - August 2012 - 26
Hospitality Design - August 2012 - Online Contents
Hospitality Design - August 2012 - 28
Hospitality Design - August 2012 - 29
Hospitality Design - August 2012 - From the Editor
Hospitality Design - August 2012 - 31
Hospitality Design - August 2012 - From the Show Director
Hospitality Design - August 2012 - 33
Hospitality Design - August 2012 - 34
Hospitality Design - August 2012 - 35
Hospitality Design - August 2012 - People
Hospitality Design - August 2012 - 37
Hospitality Design - August 2012 - 38
Hospitality Design - August 2012 - 39
Hospitality Design - August 2012 - 40
Hospitality Design - August 2012 - 41
Hospitality Design - August 2012 - 42
Hospitality Design - August 2012 - Sketchbook
Hospitality Design - August 2012 - 44
Hospitality Design - August 2012 - 45
Hospitality Design - August 2012 - 46
Hospitality Design - August 2012 - 47
Hospitality Design - August 2012 - 48
Hospitality Design - August 2012 - 49
Hospitality Design - August 2012 - 50
Hospitality Design - August 2012 - 51
Hospitality Design - August 2012 - 52
Hospitality Design - August 2012 - 53
Hospitality Design - August 2012 - 54
Hospitality Design - August 2012 - 55
Hospitality Design - August 2012 - 56
Hospitality Design - August 2012 - Trends
Hospitality Design - August 2012 - 58
Hospitality Design - August 2012 - 59
Hospitality Design - August 2012 - 60
Hospitality Design - August 2012 - 61
Hospitality Design - August 2012 - 62
Hospitality Design - August 2012 - 63
Hospitality Design - August 2012 - 64
Hospitality Design - August 2012 - 65
Hospitality Design - August 2012 - 66
Hospitality Design - August 2012 - Competition
Hospitality Design - August 2012 - 68
Hospitality Design - August 2012 - 69
Hospitality Design - August 2012 - 70
Hospitality Design - August 2012 - Interviews
Hospitality Design - August 2012 - 72
Hospitality Design - August 2012 - 73
Hospitality Design - August 2012 - 74
Hospitality Design - August 2012 - 75
Hospitality Design - August 2012 - 76
Hospitality Design - August 2012 - 77
Hospitality Design - August 2012 - 78
Hospitality Design - August 2012 - 79
Hospitality Design - August 2012 - 80
Hospitality Design - August 2012 - 81
Hospitality Design - August 2012 - 82
Hospitality Design - August 2012 - 83
Hospitality Design - August 2012 - 84
Hospitality Design - August 2012 - Jason Wu
Hospitality Design - August 2012 - 86
Hospitality Design - August 2012 - Kenneth Cobonpue
Hospitality Design - August 2012 - HD Boutique Preview
Hospitality Design - August 2012 - 89
Hospitality Design - August 2012 - 90
Hospitality Design - August 2012 - 91
Hospitality Design - August 2012 - 92
Hospitality Design - August 2012 - Lighting
Hospitality Design - August 2012 - 94
Hospitality Design - August 2012 - 95
Hospitality Design - August 2012 - 96
Hospitality Design - August 2012 - Seating
Hospitality Design - August 2012 - 98
Hospitality Design - August 2012 - 99
Hospitality Design - August 2012 - 100
Hospitality Design - August 2012 - Mirrors
Hospitality Design - August 2012 - 102
Hospitality Design - August 2012 - Design-Driven Chefs
Hospitality Design - August 2012 - 104
Hospitality Design - August 2012 - 105
Hospitality Design - August 2012 - 106
Hospitality Design - August 2012 - 107
Hospitality Design - August 2012 - 108
Hospitality Design - August 2012 - 109
Hospitality Design - August 2012 - Tori Tori
Hospitality Design - August 2012 - 111
Hospitality Design - August 2012 - 112
Hospitality Design - August 2012 - 113
Hospitality Design - August 2012 - 114
Hospitality Design - August 2012 - 115
Hospitality Design - August 2012 - Inbi
Hospitality Design - August 2012 - 117
Hospitality Design - August 2012 - 118
Hospitality Design - August 2012 - 119
Hospitality Design - August 2012 - Brio
Hospitality Design - August 2012 - 121
Hospitality Design - August 2012 - 122
Hospitality Design - August 2012 - 123
Hospitality Design - August 2012 - Churrascos
Hospitality Design - August 2012 - 125
Hospitality Design - August 2012 - 126
Hospitality Design - August 2012 - 127
Hospitality Design - August 2012 - Balena
Hospitality Design - August 2012 - 129
Hospitality Design - August 2012 - 130
Hospitality Design - August 2012 - 131
Hospitality Design - August 2012 - 132
Hospitality Design - August 2012 - 133
Hospitality Design - August 2012 - 134
Hospitality Design - August 2012 - 135
Hospitality Design - August 2012 - Back Space
Hospitality Design - August 2012 - Cover3
Hospitality Design - August 2012 - Cover4
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