Name: Brendan Fritzsche
Business: Schooner’s Wharf What he said then:
In April 2010, The Tribune reported the sale of Schooner’s Wharf in Cayucos to Brendan Fritzsche.
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“My wife grew up in Templeton and we’ve spent the last four or five Christmases in Cayucos,” said Fritzsche, a Chicago businessman who managed restaurants in Hawaii.
At the time, he didn’t expect to make major changes to the décor or menu of the North Ocean Avenue restaurant.
What he says now:
After taking stock, Fritzsche and his wife, Amanda Atkinson, closed in February for a complete kitchen remodel.
Doubling its size, they installed new floors, stainless steel walls, a new ventilation hood and other equipment.
“Everything we expect to make this year we’ve already spent on the renovation,” he said. “It should most certainly improve efficiency. It improves working conditions, especially in the heat of the summer.”
Next month, he’ll open a “to go” window on the beachside and add breakfasts with waffles, egg dishes and smoothies.
The couple employs 27 people, about seven more than in March 2010. Fritzsche expects to have about 40 at the peak of summer, including part-time seasonal help.
Atkinson, a fifth-generation North County resident, finished her culinary degree at Cuesta College. Fritzsche said she’s focused on sourcing more ingredients from local producers and at farmer’s markets.
Lunch and dinner menus have been refined, mostly responding to guest suggestions. Customer favorites — such as the grass-fed Hearst Ranch burgers and the calamari — remain untouched.
“We have tons of fresh seafood, so we thought we’d balance that with a few more meat items,” he said.
They’ve also added vegetarian items, and Chef Beto Gonzalez has added tacos and other new Mexican-style dishes.
Schooner’s outdoor patio and upstairs deck are also getting some attention. With lighter colors, there’s a new outdoor staircase allowing courtyard diners and passersby to see the ocean.
The new owners also relocated and waterproofed an on-site water wheel that was leaking.
“Having run restaurants before, it was easy to see what needed to be done,” said Fritzsche, who still commutes to Hawaii a few times a year as the managing partner of two restaurants there.
“I do know it’s a worthwhile investment,” he added. “My wife and I are here for the long run.”
“We’ve got a lot on our plate,” he laughed. “Frankly, I’m broke so I can’t really do anything else. We’ll see how the summer treats us.”