Fisher’s takes fresh approach to downtown dining

Chef Mike Fisher works on a piece of tuna in hi resturant. Photo by Nick Lovejoy

Mike Fisher wasn’t daunted by the fact that he was opening up a new restaurant in downtown Hollister, a place where many a recent eateries and businesses have fallen by the wayside. Fisher’s Delicatessen, which opened on March 1, is at the same location—650 San Benito St.—where a previous restaurant folded just months earlier.
“I’m not afraid of it, I’m not scared of it,” Fisher said, in reference to opening up a business in downtown. “I looked at downtown Hollister as kind of an untapped gold mine. I think it’s a good time for people to come in and open a business down here. Opening the restaurant was equal parts crossing my fingers and having a solid business plan. You can’t open a restaurant and know 100 percent you’re going to kill it. Things just don’t work out that way.”
The 30-year-old Fisher realized a dream that was 16 years in the making, as the Hollister native had literally traveled the world to cut his culinary teeth and develop the skills that would lead him to this point.
Some of Fisher’s most impactful work experiences including attending a culinary arts school in Paris, working at a 3-star Michelin-rated restaurant in New York City and learning valuable lessons from his mentor, Cal Stamenov, of Bernardus Lodge and Spa in Carmel Valley.
Through all of his varied experiences, Fisher has developed a steely resolve and confidence that serve him well to this day.
“I’ve gone through a lot, seen a lot,” said Fisher, who also owns his own catering business, Fisher’s Catering. “I fell into some holes and had to learn how to dig out of them fast. We all make mistakes, and we all have a hard time in life. But it’s not about the mistakes you make, but how you fix them. I’ve tested myself through a lot of adversity, and now I’m able to react on the fly.”
On a recent Tuesday mid-afternoon, after the busy lunchtime crowd had dispersed, Fisher’s Delicatessen was still bustling with customers. There was Fisher, doing meet-and-greets not only with a reporter but also various other clientele. The demand for Fisher’s time was all consuming.
Fisher spends a good portion of his time outside the kitchen. After all, he’s a mini-celebrity in Hollister, having grown up here and forging quite a pedigree.
“This wouldn’t be a successful restaurant if I wasn’t out here shaking hands,” he said. “I was born and raised here, and there is always a connection to someone here everyday.”
Fisher said business was good in the inaugural month, as word started to spread about the restaurant. Fisher’s Delicatessen focuses on fresh ingredients. How fresh? A typical batch of asparagus will arrive at the restaurant, get cut up or snapped and served within hours, having never to be refrigerated.
The farm-to-table approach is all the rage these days in the restaurant business, and Fisher’s Delicatessen takes that same method.
“I think we’re more of a community farming restaurant,” he said. “Whether it’s an artichoke, carrot or even onions, I can drive someone to the field and show them exactly the day they (vegetables) were pulled out of the field.”
Fisher’s Delicatessen features a deli-style, counter-top service emphasizing hearty soups made from scratch and bold salads that are just as flavorful as a main entrée. So far, Fisher said, the soups and fresh fish have been big-time hits, along with the pressed sandwiches and Orzo salad.
“For the first two weeks, we were going through 10 gallons of soup a day,” he said. “That was a surprise to me—I didn’t know that was going to happen. There was a lot of pressure on the soup kennel.”
There are literally a hundred things that can go wrong on a typical day in the restaurant business, and Fisher expects he and his staff to answer any challenge. After all, what would life be without a few obstacles along the way?
“If everything went smooth all the time, I’d be bored and I think everyone else working here would be bored, too,” Fisher said. “Even though it’s Hollister and there’s not the hustle and bustle of a big city, inside the restaurant kitchen is a kind of madness I enjoy.”
Fisher listed several things that could go haywire on a typical day manning the restaurant; however, the key is to react swiftly and professionally.
“Things can shut down a restaurant in a week or even overnight,” he said. “The staff calls in sick, the refrigerator breaks, there’s a gas leak, the oven decides not to work, the grill gets shut down. You better figure out how to make things work, and while all this is going on, you need to be able to walk out, smile and shake hands in the dining room and act as if everything is OK. The show must go on no matter what happens.”
And so it does.

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