The latest chapter in the Fish saga closes with Mike Stollenwerk leaving the restaurant. Insider broke the news late Monday night, stating that the chef-owner who had spun the seafood restaurant — then at 1708 Lombard — out of the smaller BYOB, Little Fish, back in 2009, gave little explanation other than a desire to spend more time with family, and put the departure behind him. His exit leaves the restaurant in the hands of backer Evan Prochniak. There’s no word yet on how things will play out going forward. No doubt, Stollenwerk and Fish traversed some choppy waters over the past two years.
Several former employees and others with close ties to Fish have told Grub that Stollenwerk’s overly ambitious efforts to build a restaurant empire are the blame for all the upheaval at what’s mostly been regarded as a truly solid endeavor.
After scoring oodles of accolades and praise at Little Fish, Stollenwerk set his sights on Fish, a larger, liquor licensed seafood operation that landed in the former home of Astral Plane near 17th and Lombard. Less than a year later, Little Fish went dark due to its building’s structural problems. That was followed by the announcement that he was bringing seafood-focused gastropub Fathom Seafood House to East Girard Avenue. That buildout repeatedly experienced delays, and later coincided with a plan for Little Fish to resurface at 6th and Fitzwater. Nine months later, Little Fish was sold to sous chef and current owner Chadd Jenkins, and Fathom to its chef Rob Holloway so Stollenwerk could focus on the mothership. Then within a few weeks, Fish was on the move to 13th and Locust.
That incarnation appeared to go swimmingly until last June when it closed abruptly, and very mysteriously. Then it expanded, and reopened. That was then followed by Rhino Bar moving into Fish’s main space this fall, and it was relegated to a smaller room on the Locust Street side of the corner property. Now a little more than a month later, Stollenwerk is out completely.
We will keep you posted as the story continues to develop.
Stollenwerk leaves Fish [Insider]