The Tasting Panel magazine

Oct 09

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Page 68 of 92

bined with a natural knack for the restaurant world, has helped propel him, and the chain, to the top. "We've got a solid daytime crowd, then a happy hour crowd, and then it turns to the dinner and late-night crowd." This varied customer base is supported by a series of specially-themed promotions that draw in different demographics with events like College Night, Taco Tuesdays and a guest bartender series, which invites local ce- lebrities—such as popular punk rock band Pennywise—to jump behind the bar and roll up their sleeves. "You need to do all of these things in order to stay busy," says Newman, whose close ties to his alma mater, the University of Southern California, have been instrumental in gathering a strong fol- T here is something distinctly Californian about a restaurant that serves Baja-style cantina food on a busy beach boardwalk, but Sharkeez restaurant is not your av- erage SoCal Mexican joint. This hip and happening chain, which boasts five beach-town locations, offers a fun and funky vibe, high-quality food and killer cocktails, but what really sets it apart is the restaurant's owner, Greg Newman, and his unique managerial approach that has helped make Sharkeez one of the hottest destinations in Southern California. When THE TASTING PANEL visited the Hermosa Beach location, which opens up to a boardwalk filled with skateboarders and surfers, just steps from the Pacific, Shar- keez was packed with a late-lunch crowd. Inside, businessmen in suits sat alongside families with children, young women having a lunchtime cocktail and a crew of twenty-some- things settling in for an afternoon of fun, food and drink; it is clear that the restaurant will be busy until its 2 a.m. close. "We do the same business open to close," explains Newman, whose marketing background, com- Concepts SoCal's Coolest Shark Attack by Rachel Burkons / photos by Cathy Twigg-Blumel (above) Managing Part- ner Jordan Cressman, owner Greg Newman and Director of Food and Beverage Leigh Lupinac- ci stand on the board- walk while guests enjoy some of the famous Sharkeez Baja-style fare. 68 / the tasting panel / october 2009

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