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Razor Fest Ocean Shores


Chef/Owner Brad Wise

Trust Restaurant Group

Brad was just 12 and living in Cape May in New Jersey (Exit 0) when he got a job at a pizza and cheesesteak spot. He worked there for three years. At 15, he got a job at the very popular Washington Inn, the fanciest place in town where he worked in prep to start. After high school he attended culinary school while still working at Washington Inn. "It was great real-life experience. I wish I'd paid more attention in school in purchasing class!"

At 21, he moved to San Diego where his best friend had moved the year before; he's never left. He spent eight years working for Eat.Drink.Sleep Hospitality Group. "They gave me my first executive chef position when I was 24 at The Padre Hotel in Bakersfield, California. I lived in the hotel for 2-1/2 years. I was on an island without much to do and I realized as executive chef that there's no one above you to mentor or teach you. You have to self-educate to write your own path."

Brad stayed with Eat.Drink.Sleep until he was 29 when he was ready to open his own place. He started Trust Restaurant Group with his first restaurant, Trust, in 2016. Farm-to-table but a little more upscale and chef-y. "It snowballed into multiple concepts: right location, right time."

The landlord at Trust had another spot he thought would be good for Brad. It was an old dealership with a building built around it, with a bar in the center. Brad said no. Six months later, the landlord came back and offered him a good deal. Plus, Brad loved the completed space. It was 1-1/2 miles away from Trust, so he didn't want to do the exact same thing. He called it Fort Oak. "It's the big brother of Trust. We had more money and we made things nicer: better equipment and furniture. Same ethos on cuisine." They opened January 2019.

Six months after opening Fort Oak, a space a block away came to his attention. It had been empty for a year. He got a tremendous deal on it. They went in 35 days before the pandemic struck full force. "We finished painting, but I dialed back on the build out. We eventually finished it and opened Cardellino, our Italian chop house, in February 2020." At Cardellino, they have a window for take out ice cream called Mr. Trustee Creamery.

During the pandemic, Brad ran into a guy at Target who owned a butcher shop. "He wanted out and gave us a crazy good deal. It's now Wise Ox, our butcher shop/deli/eatery. We opened August 1, 2020, and now have two locations. It's the most fun concept of all time. We have Celine Dion Saturday Nights and Boy Band Friday Nights. There's always music, it's not full service. We do cheesesteaks and smoked turkey sandwiches with premium ingredients."

While building out Cardellino, Brad's bar Hundred Proof was failing. "I thought a bar would be easy and I wouldn't have to be onsite. Clearly not true. But closing that is what led us to Rare Society, our Santa Maria-style steakhouse using premium products."

As a company, they've written a training manual and offer two weeks training for staff at new locations. He sees himself as "an owner by day, a line cook by night," generally cooking at locations that need his attention.

February 2023

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