Something Fishy

At about the time Eater was posting this story about Mike Stollenwerk’s Fish being closed Saturday, because of “issues with a few of our investors,” we received the above photo (thanks D-Mac) from the front door of Fish, stating the reason for the closure was “extreme flooding.”

Michael Klein posted on Sunday morning that Fish would be reopening shortly and expanding. But that post really created as many questions as it answered. Investor Evan Prochniak says a new venue in the Independent Hotel will be developed to serve breakfast and lunch. But before that happens, Stollenwerk will have to replace chef de cuisine Justin Petruce who has resigned citing the always intriguing, “circumstances beyond my control.”

Prochniak says Stollenwerk and him are also planning a cajun concept for the restaurant eating space at the Academy House on Locust Street. That spot is owned by Prochniak. The seemingly cursed spot is currently Jolly’s Dueling Piano Bar, but Klein reports serial-piano bar opener/closer Jolly Weldon “has left.” Speaking of Weldon, he has been running Brick at 1708 Lombard, the former location of Fish. That Fish corporation has a $22,000 tax lien against it from the state.

So somehow we’ve gone from fake flooding, to a problem with investors, to a clearing of the air with that investor and two new projects involving Stollenwerk, all in the course of 72 hours?

Pictured below, a post-it note we stuck to our rumors wall a couple of months ago.

We’re still not sure what to make of all this.

UPDATE: Fish is aiming to reopen on June 12th.


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  • mike

    It doesn’t sound good to me. My wife and I have gone there about three few times over the last few months and the food has always been great and unique, so I will be sad if it really does close.

  • JabberJaws

    Well, it’s like this. Stollenwerk is a very good chef. He doesn’t pay his bills and doesn’t know how to run a restaurant. That’s why he had to sell Little Fish and Fathom. When they got their 3rd bell for Fish, Justin was the one manning the kitchen and running the restaurant and they had a sick beverage program. Stollenwerk was busy trying to save a failing Fathom during that time. They lost a great asset with Justin leaving, and I know they lost some other people of great importance and ability. One can only wonder how long Monica Glass will stick around. The word is that Fish hasn’t been doing well at all, both before and after moving. He needs to put the bottle down and stop trying to get fresh with all his staff, and start cooking. All the while leaving the business-end, up to the experts… And that indeed was the plan with the investor. But without solid business coming in, and out-of-control expenses, there is no money to go around. Stollenwerk should pull a James Burke and just sell out for a solid salary to Starr or Garces. Then he wouldn’t have to worry about state liens, absurdly high purveyor debt, and can save some face. Sad story, really.

    • Mike s

      The investor never fully invested, the chef drank and “partied”, cash went missing from the bar till, servers credit card tips were not paid to them because that money went towards vendors/utilities/who knows, vendors completely cut them off, several lawsuits are in progress towards the company……..

  • Nightman

    Flooding? Thanks for being honest with your customers Mike.

  • Little of This, Little of That

    In this case, “circumstances beyond [his] control” means not getting a paycheck for a few months and instead actually having to use his own out-of-pocket money to pay staff.

  • cwdonald

    Is this what happens when you “over fish” a market?

  • Scribble

    A  little fish trying to make it big…, …too big.  It is sad because the food has been amazing when I’ve been there.  And I agree with JabberJaws that when Justin was manning the kitchen on Lombard the restaurant was at it’s best.  I’m not at all confident that the food will retain it’s unique flavor and quality; how can it with no chef in the kitchen and more restaurant openings in the near future?  

    I’m curious if the employees that will be hired to staff Fish, the breakfast spot, and the Cajun place will get PAID to work?  Fish staffers have been dealing with rubber paychecks for months and the wait staff’s tip money gets used and abused (then eventually paid out)… jobseekers should be flooding in to work at all three (?) locations. 

    What about Stollenwerk in Brewerytown, when is that opening? 

  • Tex

    He also needs to train his servers. The last time I went there (post-move) I asked about a couple wine pairings but the server didn’t know anything about their wines and basically said “everything on the list is good.” She didn’t offer to get anyone who did know about the wines either. Minor complaint, but that kind of thing can’t happen at a good restaurant.

  • Scribble

    Newish mgt as well as a few new FOH & BOH are from Benihana… The rest will probably come with their flair from Chotchkie’s…

  • AD

    I ran into MS at the Taste of Nation event and asked him where Theo the mixologist was (since he was obviously absent from the event) and he said Theo hasn’t been “seen or heard from in weeks.” Clearly Theo jumped ship for reasons which are now being explicitly known to outsiders. It is unfortunate that MS was also seen by the end of the evening quite drunk and incoherent. I saw an exchange with him and Monica Glass, the talented pastry chef, which was evidently awkward in his state. I don’t see a connection at all with Monica’s modern pastry and dessert standard with Fish’s food program. I don’t see how Monica could remain at Fish. I suggest she chats with Chris Kearse to be his dessert chef, b/c her style and approach seem more in line with Chris’ than Mike’s. I wish FISH the best, but all of this back-and-forth storytelling doesn’t seem to be foretelling a happy ending.

  • Anthony

    What was your Post-It due to months ago?

    • Foobooz

      A couple people had independently asked me if I had heard about any problems at Fish.

  • Daytime Drinker.

    Foobooz is so lame.
    What legitimately convinces anyone that post-it not was just now written in the last 24 hrs like there is some kind of time stamp on yellow.

  • OuchMyHead

    Closed for two days? Nursing a nice hangover?

  • Oopsies

    So does flooding refer to when you stop paying your staff, and when you actually receive a check, it bounces? Or keeping their tips? Or does it refer to the racist and sexist comments coming from the kitchen staff. Oh, maybe flooding refers to losing some of the best talent including Luis and Theo.

  • JabberJaws

    Man, sounds like a lot of people on the inside are posting on this one and it seems like the writing is on the wall. Sorry to all those who’ve been burned by this dude, I feel for you guys and gals.

    @AD, the problem with Monica going to Chris Kearse, is that I would assume it would be very hard for a BYOB to afford someone of her caliber. Although it would be sweet if they could make it happen. Pun intended.

  • Jolly

    I wish everyone well in this story, including Mike and Evan. Since I was evidently mentioned in the Klein column I would like to set the record straight. (1) I own Brick with my family and there are no tax liens against us, (2) Brick has nothing to do with any of these other companies, (3) I have left my consulting position at 1420 Locust Street to open up Jollys Dueling Piano Bar at 3801 Chestnut Street, in University City where the party starts June 8.

  • MARE

    No on has mentioned his last name says it all, “Stolen work”

  • Mr. Jiggles

    I have been a fan of fish for years, the food was always top notch. The staff however, lacked the charisma to match the food quality. Hopefully, if they re-open Fish, it will give them a chance to hire some staff with some character and personality.

  • boots

    ‘Stolen work’? More like ‘Stolen money’. Amiright?

  • Ed jones

    At least little fish was saved

    • smaller is better

      and little fish is better than ever. it feels like the best version yet – much better cared for in every way

    • smaller IS better

      And little fish is better than ever. it feels like the best version yet ..much better cared for in every way.

  • HenryDavid

    Everyone loves to watch a barn burn. Pricks

  • liarliar

    “Left your consulting job”? That’s funny because what I heard was you were fired for trashing 1420 Locust in a drunken rampage, stealing significant amounts of money & sleeping with a server at Jolly’s Delco

  • KuntaKinte

    How much charisma and personality would you expect from a staff that wasn’t getting paid Mr. Jiggles.

  • bobnewhart1

    Littlefish has 34 seats.

  • WelcomeToWalmart

    You make more money as a Walmart Door Greeter than as owner of a 34 seat restaurant.

  • JabberJaws

    I bet Stollenwerk wishes he still only had Little Fish. Probably the last time he had money and less stress on his proverbial plate. I walked by over the weekend and they are STILL closed. WTF!?

  • Michael Falcone

    didn’t he sell Little Fish to his former sous chef Chad? and wasn’t he supposed to open a spot on Girard Ave? there hasn’t been any mention of that since the original press release

  • PJ

    Still closed…doesn’t look good. Anyone know anything?

  • Mike s

    The reason they closed is because the entire back of the house wasn’t getting paid, and when they finally did, their checks would bounce. Same for the entire front of the house. Everyone basically walked out. It seems to me that this was out of stollenwerks hands. All blame rests upon the investor, Evan.

    • No

      I blame Stollenwerk for letting it get to that point, he knew what was going on to his restaurant.

  • Common Sense

    Seems to me “investors” invest to make money not throw it away on a place overstaffed and poorly managed.

    As far as Stollenwerk he is the Chef – the food was always good every time I ate there (service was lacking). How can you blame the Chef for anything but the food quality.

    Sounds like poor management is to blame which is usually the case when restaurants fail

  • badjack

    When you say “he is the chef,” you make it sound like Stollenwerk was just an employee. You are wrong. He was certainly not just an employee, but an owner. He hadn’t cooked a plate of food for quite a while (which is reasonable, since his chefs were quite talented).

    Bad direction (or total lack of direction) from ownership is more often to blame for failed restaurants than “poor management.” Managers are employees, and owners dump the blame on them to avoid facing the facts – ie, that they are the problem.

  • No

    The food was excellent because his chef, Petruce, was in charge of it until recently. Stollenwerk tried to take back control of the menu and (make your own fart noise). My guess is that the regulars that do not keep up with food gossip will go back and likely see previous seasonal menu items resurface, not new ones.

  • whats up

    does anyone know if they are going to reopen or not? When can we cash our paychecks?

  • gods son

    Mike Stollenwerk is going to run everything he has left into the ground. Drinking on the job, cocaine deliveries to the job and constant shit talk That man owes everyone a lot of money, even worse he cant pay his employees. Mike Stollenwerk is fucked on all levels.