Yet another Giovanni’s reinvention

Morro Bay’s Giovanni DeGarimore was born into a fisherman’s family and has worked at the family fish market for as long as he can remember. His dad, Mike, an abalone diver during its heyday, operated Central Coast Seafood, Finicky Fish and Giovanni’s Fresh Fish Market and Galley.

Giovanni has followed in his father’s entrepreneurial footsteps.

“I manage our waterfront properties,” Giovanni said. “After each trinket shop failed, I’d ask Dad to let me try something. He finally agreed. Up all night, I got my signature hamburger place planned then realized I didn’t want to run another restaurant. I have a passion for wines, so it’s a wine bar with simple menu items.”

STAX Wine Bar is under construction and is scheduled to open Dec. 7.

“Dad gave me more than the fish business — he gave me a work ethic,” Giovanni said. “I said I’d open in 90 days. It’s been harder than I thought, but I’m on track.”

His business plan has always been to keep ahead of the trends and give his customers value and great service.

“We constantly have to reinvent ourselves,” he said. When lines at Giovanni’s Fresh Fish Market and Galley impacted his profitability, he invested in a major remodel. As new technology created marketing tools to reach customers, Giovanni created a successful online coupon program.

“Internet success for the fish market started four years ago. Now we have 7,000 customers,” he said. “We’re priced competitively, offering off-the-boat, to-the-plate, delivered-to-their-door service for $10. I ship everywhere. Several Morro Bay and San Luis customers find delivery more attractive than coming to the market.”

Giovanni’s next challenge is success for their property at Beach and Embarcadero.

“STAX Wine Bar is for locals and tourists. It’s a comfortable place to have a glass of wine with friends. Right now it’s dynamic, but the wine tasting formula works throughout the county and we’re not saturated in Morro Bay.”

Giovanni is creating buzz by gathering “instant feedback from future customers” on Facebook.

“My friend Susan Neiland came up with the name,” he said. “We’re building on the STAX theme. We’re near the power plant stacks. Menu items are stacked. My mahogany wine display cases are stacked.”

Giovanni hopes STAX is his early retirement plan: “I want to set myself up to enjoy time with my best friend and daughter, Katie. We love to travel, hunt and ride motorcycles. I’m teaching her how to cook. There’s nothing more rewarding than being best friends with your children.”

Giovanni’s clam chowder recently won its sixth consecutive Morro Bay Harbor Festival trophy. Now he’s hoping for the same customer favorite status for STAX Wine Bar.

Reach Judy Salamacha at 801-1422 or jsalamacha@yahoo.com.