As president and chief operating officer of Eddie V's Restaurant Inc., Jim VanDercook oversees all of the company’s concepts, which include Eddie V’s, Wildfish Seafood Grille and Roaring Fork. He is responsible for the development and growth of the company, with plans to aggressively grow all three brands over the next few years. Key growth markets for this initiative include San Antonio, Houston, Dallas and Southern California.
Q: Considering the overall state of the economy and the La Jolla community specifically, why a new location now, and why do you believe you will be able to have success in La Jolla?
A: We have always loved Southern California since our initial launch of Wildfish in Newport Beach. Our group has been looking for the best location we could find to enter the San Diego marketplace. This had been a really thorough search, and then we came upon the former Chart House location and quickly determined this to be truly a one of a kind world-class location. We all believed this location could not be passed up. In response to the economy, it is no secret the last 18 months have been very tough for all of us in the restaurant business. However, on a very encouraging and positive response, we are seeing sales improve for all our restaurants this year, specifically our Wildfish restaurant in Newport Beach, which gives us additional confidence in our Southern California operations.
Q: You have 14 restaurants in your overall collection and portfolio of brands. The majority of your restaurants are located in the heart of the Sunbelt of the country. What was your motivation to open a restaurant in La Jolla as your first entry into the San Diego marketplace?
A: Our commitment to our menu is prime seafood, and what better location to position our culinary expertise and creativity than La Jolla? This is an absolutely perfect location to showcase our brand and menu presentation. Yes, we've opened many successful restaurants in the Southwest and one in Newport Beach, but the perfect location in La Jolla for our Eddie V's brand has been a dream of our group for a long time. Until now, we had not found the location that offered us all the amenities and suitability of a venue to coincide with the total upscale appeal and total ambience of our Eddie V's Brand.
Q: La Jolla has a number of highly recognizable restaurant brands with years of success. What does Eddie V's bring to the San Diego community, specifically La Jolla, that these established restaurants don’t currently provide to the general and sophisticated dining community?
A: I certainly agree. We have been dining here for months doing our research. La Jolla has great restaurants, and we are very enthusiastic about joining those at the top to maintain that high level of quality and service. Eddie V's brings a wonderfully unique dining presentation to our guests, with daily prime fresh seafood, premium hand-cut USDA steaks all prepared to accentuate the natural and best flavors of these products. Now, present this to our guests in a total ambiance that has often been compared to the finest restaurants found in New York, San Francisco and Los Angeles, now our locals will have a place they can become regulars.
Q: What type of food will you be offering your guests, and what are some of Eddie V's menu creations that might be new to this marketplace?
A: Executive Chef Bill Greenwood has been working diligently to create the finest of all Eddie V's menu offerings and presenting fresh oysters; fresh shellfish; sashimi; crudo; local caught yellowtail; California halibut, from Pacific shellfish or Catalina offshore; Point Judith calamari, kung pao style Loch Duart salmon, North Pacific Petrale sole, North Atlantic scallops, market-fresh fish simply broiled with lemon, garlic and fresh herbs; as well as premium hand-cut USDA steaks and locally grown produce from Crows Pass Farm and Specialty Produce. We believe we will have the most imaginative menu we have ever presented here in La Jolla.
Q: Are you open for lunch or just dinner service?
A: For now, we will be open only for dinner. However, based on the community response and interest, lunch during the week and on weekends might be an option.
Q: How many employees will you have at the restaurant, and did you find the San Diego marketplace rich with experienced talent to choose from?
A: We were enormously pleased with the quality and quantity of response we received during our hiring process. So far, we have hired about 100 wonderfully talented individuals, many with several years of experience in our food and service specialization.
Q: How are you going to be handling parking for the restaurant?
A: We will have valet parking available for all our guests with a station directly in front of the restaurant. Our initial planning called for ample parking, and we have made special arrangements to accommodate large numbers of guests.
Q: Assuming you are successful with your first location in La Jolla, what are your plans for opening up additional Eddie V's or one of your other brands?
A: We are always looking for good opportunities, especially once we have made a commitment to a market. With that said, however, we are making final menu preparations and putting the finishing touches on staff training. All our efforts are focused on the opening of Eddie V's La Jolla. Perhaps in the future, considering all market and economic conditions, we might pursue new locations.