Name: David Peter
Business: The Galley Seafood Grill and Bar
What he said then: In November 2007 — four years after The Galley restaurant closed on the Embarcadero in Morro Bay — The Tribune reported that The Galley Seafood Grill and Bar would soon open on the same site.
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After an Americans with Disabilities Act lawsuit, the Anderson family, who’d run the restaurant for 40 years, demolished the building.
In its place, it built the Anderson Inn and a new restaurant to be owned and operated by friends David and Aglaja Peter.
“I got my first job as a busboy at The Galley on my 14th birthday,” David Peter said, “and continued to work there until I was 20.”
What he says now: More than two years after its opening, The Galley continues to outperform its owners’ expectations.
Peter ended a 20-year career in software to realize his lifelong dream of running a restaurant in his hometown.
“The restaurant business has a really high failure rate,” he said. “That was always in the back of my mind.”
Research and planning was a priority, especially because the restaurant was opening at a time when the general economy and consumer spending were declining.
“It was 100 percent positive from day one,” he added. “We not only hit but exceeded all of the metrics we’d put into the plan.”
He attributes its success to two main factors. The first is carrying on the Andersons’ tradition of customer service.
“Taking care of customers and making sure they have a great experience is better than any advertising,” he stressed. “We try not to ever say no to a customer.”
The day the restaurant opened, Peter posted “19” in large numbers on the wall — a reminder to employees that there are 19 other restaurants on the waterfront alone that customers could choose instead.
“It’s the customers who really pay their salaries,” Peter said. His 30 employees, many of whom are Morro Bay High School students, are trained to look visitors in the eye and thank them for their business.
The other key factor, Peter said, is a focus on local ingredients that are healthy and environmentally sustainable. He personally buys the seafood fresh every morning, and The Galley serves it “naked” — sauces are served on the side.
All produce comes from a Los Osos farm owned by the family of head chef Henry Galvez, another who began at The Galley in high school.
Servers are trained to communicate the sources of ingredients to Galley customers.
“We don’t use any sort of pesticides, and customers are concerned about that,” Peter said. “A big thing these days is sustainability, especially concerned with seafood. We have a very educated public these days.”
— Raven J. Railey