Bob Partrite Makes Room for Sustainable Food

Recently, I met Bob Partrite when my friend, Nona of Cook!, invited me to her demonstration for a Nightlife event at the California Academy of Sciences sponsored by the San Francisco Seafood Watch Alliance. The setting was perfect for honoring the deep wild history of sea life while learning about fishing practices and species that we can require from restaurateurs and suppliers to help rescue this vast and fragile eco-system.

But let’s get back to Bob! Starting out at Miss Pearl’s Jam House - the hippest joint in town back in the day- Bob is a chef who worked in fine restaurants around San Francisco and Marin before landing here as VP of Operations for the Simco Restaurant Group. On top of his responsibilities to manage all things Operations, Bob’s personal ambition at Fog Harbor Fish House at Pier 39 is to offer a complete menu of sustainably harvested seafood dishes. His story reeled me in so I had to sit down and learn more.

SK: Why pursue sustainable seafood for Fog Harbor Fish House?

BP: I buy a lot of fish! And as fewer species were available, I began learning about where and how to buy non-depleted and sustainably harvested species. It became clear that had to do my part.

SK: Where has this journey led your so far?

BP: After about 2 1/2 years of learning and sourcing, most of our menu  includes sustainably harvested seafood. I’m really proud and eager to get to that 100% mark!

Of course, now I’m thinking about other things too like energy efficiency. I just installed a Green Vent System and LED lighting in our Wipe Out Bar & Grill.

I’m also thinking about engaging ways to share the message with customers. The Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch has a pocket guide for choosing the best species in your region. I'd like to create something similar for our restaurants.

SK: I like that, rather than preach or focus on the catastrophes, you can share options and good news.

BP: Yes, Scooter Simmons, owner of Simco, and I agree that we want our visitors experience to exceed their expectations on every level. Like developing a successful restaurant, adapting to sustainable systems and practices is a process. It's a labor of love, but worthwhile nonetheless.

SK: Agreed! And speaking of experience, you recently remodeled your restaurant. What was your focus there?

BP: This fish house has been here for 30+ years. We saved most of the original marble parquet flooring, preserved the bar (although we moved it a bit!) and relocated the restrooms to make room for the outdoor living room we created at the entrance.

SK: I like that, Using What You’ve Got and then Making Room for More- that’s exactly my message! So, beside the bottom line, how do you know you're succeeding?

BP: We're located on Pier 39. It's a wonderful tourist spot, but most people don’t associate the location with repeat business. We have "regulars" and visitors who eat here 2-3 times during their stay. We know the restaurant is beautiful and our food is excellent. Our service completes the experience, and when people come back for more, we know we’ve achieved our goal.

SK: Thank you, Bob. Here’s my last 'tough' question: what is your favorite color?

BP: That’s easy- Blue. I grew up near the beach so water and sky colors always catch my attention. It’s probably no mystery either that I've ended up working on the water too.

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