Aug. 24, 2018
We've all heard about the infamous Simms Restaurant group and have seen first hand how everything they touch seem to be a success. Well, a strong family history and two hard working brothers are some of the secret sauce behind it. Here is a little more about two of our favorite local restauranteers Mike and Chris Simms...
“It’s in my genes, I had no choice!” A Southern California native, Mike Simms knew from an early age that he would foray into the world of hospitality. He and his brother grew up running around the kitchen and under the tables at French Market in West Hollywood and The Kettle in Manhattan Beach – his father’s and grandfather’s restaurants – but later did stints washing dishes and busing tables for spending money throughout high school.
After graduating from Cornell’s prestigious Hotel School, Mike moved to the Napa Valley and managed Tra Vigne restaurant, where he was able to fully immerse himself in food. In trying his hand at home brewing, traveling to the world’s best wine regions and developing relationships with various winemakers, Mike came to realize his passion for beer and wine. In 2005, he took this experience and returned to his native Southern California, compelled to connect local restaurants to surrounding farms, breweries, and wineries and celebrate all things craft. He joined forces with his father Tom and brother Chris to form the Simms Restaurant Group.
In 2007, Mike developed the Tin Roof Bistro in Manhattan Beach. Amidst delays, he stumbled upon vacant space just steps from the ocean in Manhattan Beach and decided (along with his brother Chris) the neighborhood needed a spot that served a simple, delicious burger and quality craft beer and wine. This concept quickly came to fruition in the form of Simmzy’s and opened in 2009, three months before Tin Roof Bistro. In 2011 Mike partnered with Chef David LeFevre to open Manhattan Beach Post. Building on their partnership, The Simms-LeFevre team later opened Fishing With Dynamite (2013), and The Arthur J (2015), named after Mike’s grandfather, also in Manhattan Beach. Meanwhile, in 2012 Mike shared his knowledge and passion for wine and beer and ventured out of Manhattan Beach to open a second Simmzy’s in Belmonte Shore, followed by additional locations: Simmzy’s Burbank (2015), Simmzy’s Venice (2015), Simmzy’s Huntington Beach (2015). And in 2016, Simms Restaurant Group debuts its newest concept, Lil’ Simmzy’s on the Deck at The Point in El Segundo, CA. Lil’ Simmzy’s echoes the original Simmzy’s vibe with an ultra-laidback menu of beach grub designed for recharging and relaxing with a local craft brew on the patio.
Whether it’s teaching servers about new styles of beer, encouraging cooks to use new techniques, or honing his own palate with an Introductory Sommelier Certificate, Mike is a firm believer in empowerment through education. In the same vein, Mike prides himself on promoting from within (a current GM started off as a server, and a one-time dishwasher now boasts the title of executive chef), and truly believes in putting people first.
When he’s not at Simmzy’s, Mike can be found surfing in Manhattan Beach, spending time with his wife and four kids, or planning his next aerial flight over California’s wine regions.
Born and raised in Southern California, Chris Simms has been involved in the restaurant business all of his life. While attending Cornell University, Chris worked his way up the ladder through various restaurants both in the kitchen and the dining room and began working for P.F. Chang’s China Bistro when he graduated.
After three years with P.F. Chang’s, Chris decided to continue his education in the restaurant industry by beginning work with Mimi’s Cafe?, the restaurant company founded by his father, Tom Simms. Chris and his team opened the first Lazy Dog in Huntington Beach, CA in 2003.
Lazy Dog serves handcrafted American food and drink with seasonally-inspired ingredients. When you walk in, you get a small mountain town vibe from the warm, caring service and the rustic social setting. Lazy Dog is a great place to get together with friends and family, making it the casual dining choice for the next generation.
As CEO, Chris keeps a close eye on operations while guiding the concept and developing new sites resulting in the 30th Lazy Dog to be opened in Chicago, IL in December of 2018.
Chris and his team look forward to executing an aggressive, yet prudent growth plan over the next several years that will include openings in markets across the country.