Having a restaurant was a longtime dream of Jason and Kasey Joseph. Now, thanks in part to a Jamaican bartender named Andre, they’ve made it a reality — times two.
While in Jamaica for their 10th anniversary in February 2004, the Josephs struck up a conversation with Andre, who “asked why we weren’t living our dream?” remembered Jason Joseph. “He said, ‘You live in America where you can do anything you want.’ ”
Neither of the Josephs had any experience running a restaurant, but Jason recalled that “Kasey said, ‘We cannot try, or we can try and fail, or we can try and succeed. Let’s just take the first option off the table right now.’ ”
By that July, they’d sold their house and moved their young family to the Central Coast.
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By December, they’d found an existing restaurant to buy.
Only three weeks later, on Dec. 31, 2004, they turned on the reggae music and opened the doors to Hoagie’s, just steps from the busy main drag in Pismo Beach.
This past March, the Josephs and Nick Stieb (a customer who worked part time in the Hoagie’s kitchen before becoming an enthusiastic business partner) got the chance to open a second restaurant within the historic Avila Hot Springs, a unique facility that joyfully evokes a funky, bygone era.
The additional location offers more storage, more seating and a wood-burning pizza oven.
Joseph also noted that “we hope to make this more of an event place,” not just for special private occasions such as birthday parties, but also with themed menus like this month’s Oktoberfest, summertime pool parties and “celebrating St. Patrick’s Day the 17th of every month.”
As for the everyday menu, with a name like Hoagie’s, you can expect a good lineup of sandwiches on the menu.
All the usual suspects are present and accounted for, like a BLT, a club sandwich, and The Big Italian with pastrami, salami and provolone.
However, Joseph noted that “Hoagie’s is so much more than just sandwiches,” and the staff particularly prides itself on anything made with the certified Angus beef tri-tip that’s marinated and slow smoked in house. Other choices include fish and chips, fish tacos, a southwest chicken wrap, pasta salad, hot dogs and half-pound burgers.
Joseph also admitted that “we like to play with our food and put our own spin on things,” so you’ll also find items such as potato salad made from “my aunt’s recipe,” a hearty South of the Border burger with beef and chorizo, and the Cali Cheese Steak with tri-tip, provolone, grilled onions, and both red and green grilled bell peppers.
In addition, that playful side of Hoagie’s has resulted in the housemade “Male Chauvinist Chili” with beans and tri-tip, and a “Frito Boat” — a throwback nod to nachos made of a bed of Fritos covered with chili, cheese, onions, tomatoes and jalapenos.
Perhaps the most unique creation to make the menu came after Stieb came on board.
The initial concept for Hoagie’s was “not to even have a fryer,” said Joseph, “but Nick said, ‘You’ve got to make fries.’ ”
After that, Stieb suggested something even more outside the original box: the Pismo Wrap — a tortilla stuffed with tri-tip, pepper jack cheese, avocado, barbecue sauce — and curly fries. Though Joseph was initially skeptical, it went on as a special, and now Hoagie’s regularly serves about 1,500 Pismo Wraps a week.
“It’s all about good-quality food and good vibes,” said Joseph.
“Our main goal is to make Hoagie’s a local spot where everyone that walks through the door feels the love and warmth.”