Since my interview w/ Chef Messina in Boston. Chef Tony Messina has gotten married (now 6 months) and moved to LA! Hallelujah! Sadly, he currently is quarantined with Covid and is itching to get back on his feet and cook!
Hi Tony. I am truly sorry you are going through this.
"It’s ok. It seems like it's gonna happen to everyone at some point."
That’s true. It spread through my entire household in 2 days.
Well, I am calling for an update for the magazine, Sweet and Savory. The last time I did the interview with you in Boston, you were still at Uni, and now you're in LA. And you got married. A lot has transpired. Before I go out with the next edition in which you are featured; I would like to just get a beat on what you're doing now that you are here in LA. What's the plan?
"Enjoying as much of married life as possible. I am currently consulting as a chef consultant for a project, but it's not mine. I am actively searching for property as we speak, and we're putting a bid on a property on Thursday. So, we'll see where that goes. But yeah, it's just like kind of going through the whole process of trying to find a space negotiate it out and hopefully land on something."
Hard process. You're consulting for other restaurants?
"Yeah, for a restaurant group."
And what are you doing for them?
"Just helping to establishment training protocols, operating protocols, all that fun stuff."
And at the same time, you're looking at properties to build your own restaurant.
And would that look like Uni? Similar?
"One of the concepts I would like to roll out would look somewhat similar to Uni, but still not the same thing. It would be in the vein of Uni, but still different. There's a couple of other products I'd like to roll out as well. That would be something along the lines of like an East Coast oyster bar that would also offer like a takeout component that we would do North Shore style fried clams and Lobster Rolls. That’s something I would like to focus on sooner rather than later."
Especially with summer coming up.
Location, location, location.
Where are you looking? Forget that. Where do you hope to be?
"Yeah, that's probably a more appropriate question. I would love to do a couple of these oyster bars with takeout components. I would love to have one on the West Side, and one on the East Side for those concepts. So ideally something like Venice, Manhattan Beach South Bay area will be great for the oyster bar fried clam shack type place. I'd also like to do one somewhere in the vicinity of Silver Lake, Echo Park up to Highland Pock in that area to be able to service those communities as well. And I'd like to do kind of like my flagship somewhere in between all of that. So, it's hard to say where I would love to land because I'm looking for different concepts in different areas, but at least for the oyster bar, and it's called, Clam Shack for now. East side, west side to start."
I understand. Big Plans. I like it. That's not exactly unique the way Uni is.
"But you know what? I want to do something that's fun and meaningful to me. Not that my style of food there wasn't, because it's definitely me on a plate. I want to do something that brings my Boston background and my awful accent to Los Angeles as well."
I totally hear that. As well you should. It’s close to your heart and there is always think room for that. You're now married. Congratulations. How long?
How's that going?
"It's the best. She's great."
You're in the newlywed phase.
"Yeah. We've been together for five years, and it's always been great. We just have a lot of fun together. We really enjoy spending time together; it's pretty fantastic."
Amazing and congratulations again. Any potential restaurant sites that are close, or are we still hunting?
"We're definitely hunting. Although because of Covid, I had a video tour of a property yesterday that I think I really like. So, once I feel a little better, I'm going to take a ride by and see it with my own two eyes and then make the call. But I think I really like it. We'll see where it goes."
I wish you luck, Tony. For all the people that know you and that don't know you, you need to have a restaurant, because what you do is amazing. I don't want you to wait too long.
"Well, thank you. Neither do I. I get antsy. I am getting a really big itch to open something up here."
You had a good break, and that's nice. You deserve it.
"Exactly. But I'm done with the break. I'm ready to go."
I hear you. I’m ready for you to open too. Well, with COVID, you have a little while longer, right?
"Yes. Unfortunately, I am stuck in a bedroom."
Okay. Once you're better, and I'm going to wait till then, Dante comes back home from his next trip, but then I would love to have you come do a dinner here at the house.
"Oh, good. I'd love to."
I’d really love that.
"I'm going to be doing a couple of at home dinners here in LA. And I would absolutely love to do them for you guys. That's fun."
An absolute pleasure. We can’t wait. Get better and keep us apprised of your endeavors.