Revisiting Pike Street Fish Fry: Pulled Pork & New Beginnings


fish fry.jpg
L to R: Pike Street Fish Fry's Michael Yuasa and Ian Butterworth
Pike Street Fish Fry opened its little glass door to the world in


Revisiting Pike Street Fish Fry: Pulled Pork & New Beginnings

  • Revisiting Pike Street Fish Fry: Pulled Pork & New Beginnings

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    fish fry.jpg
    L to R: Pike Street Fish Fry's Michael Yuasa and Ian Butterworth
    Pike Street Fish Fry opened its little glass door to the world in April 2008 amid a lot of buzz both from and about its creator Michael Hebb. The kitchen was headed up by Monica Dimas, formerly of Le Pichet and Campagne, and now Monsoon. Fish Fry's food, which featured fresh seafood that arrived daily, was great. Eventually, as with all new places, Fish Fry chatter quieted down. A few months later, Dimas was no longer in the kitchen, but there was no announcement of her leaving, or who had replaced her. Subsequent visits to Fish Fry seemed to find a different group of people in the kitchen each time, as well as different menu offerings and varying batters. Questions arose: "What's up with Pike Street Fish Fry?," or "Do YOU know who's running Pike Street Fish Fry these days?"

    Last month, an email from a group called Antarctic Creative went out announcing they they had taken control of Pike Street Fish Fry, and that they had been running it since late July. So who exactly is Antarctic Creative and what are they doing with Fish Fry? Voracious sat down with Michael Yuasa and Ian Butterworth, Fish Fry's co-owner and kitchen manager, to find out.

    Can you give a quick rundown of the history of Fish Fry's ownership and management?

    Yuasa: Fish Fry opened in April 2008. It was Michael Hebb's concept, and he collaborated with Mike McConnell, who owns Cafe Vita and Via Tribunali, and Jerry Everard, who co-owns Neumo's and Sole Repair across the street. In October 2008, Hebb stepped out. After that, in November and December of 2008, there was basically no management. Damien was helping out...

    Who's Damien?

    (Yuasa and Butterworth exchange quizzical looks.) Yuasa: You know, I'm not sure even what his last name is and where he is now. But he was helping out for awhile. Then Kevin, from next door at Tribunali, helped out.

    But it doesn't sound like there was actually anyone in charge, whose job it was to manage things day-to-day.

    Yuasa: No, there really wasn't. And for a time there was a Philly cheese steak on the menu. Basically, there was no consistency. So I started helping out with stuff (Yuasa works for Cafe Vita, doing publicity and marketing), but I realized it wasn't going to work unless I had a stake in it. So I approached Mike McConnell about buying in and becoming a part owner.

    What made you want to take this on?

    Yuasa: Well, I had been wanting to start a place. I was thinking about opening a sandwich shop, but with Fish Fry, I was already familiar with it and had been working with Hebb and McConnell, so it just made sense. I knew I could turn it around. And when I talked to McConnell, he agreed and said, "Yeah, it's a perfect fit."

    So what sort of changes have you made?

    First off, I made consistency a priority. I got our food expenses, which were very high, under control. And I brought in Ian, who has a lot of kitchen experience. We now have things like organizational systems, recipes, and a menu guide. And, of course, we've made some changes to the menu.

    Tell me about the menu changes.

    Yuasa: We brought our prices down, to start with. A lot of it is the same. We still have the same quality seafood. We're still making all the sauces from scratch: curry ketchup, lemon aioli, smoked chili mayo, tartar, plus we've added harrissa, which I love. But we've definitely added new items.

    Butterworth: We added more vegan and vegetarian options to better serve the neighborhood. We now have grilled and fried seasonal vegetables, and a field roast sausage sandwich.

    Yuasa: We're also doing a grilled hangar steak, which is a great cut of meat. We're adding $2 fish tacos. We added a pulled pork sandwich.

    I wondered about that. How is the pulled pork selling at Fish Fry?

    Butterworth: It's actually our second most popular menu item.

    Yuasa: Right, just behind the classic cod and chips. It's an easy grab and go item, and it's really good.

    Butterworth: With the addition of new items, we've really seen a lot of more people from the neighborhood, lots of musicians, come in regularly.

    Fish Fry does seem like the kind of place that's just begging to become to a neighborhood spot.

    Yuasa: That's the goal. It's in a great spot, and tucked into this location, I see it as a perfect place for food and music. Now that there's consistency and systems in place, it really should hum along.

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