Sonoma’s Reel Fish Shop sold to local partners

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The Reel Fish Shop and Grill wasn’t even fishing for a buyer – but it got a bite it simply couldn’t refuse.

The Sonoma seafood restaurant is being sold to a pair of local entrepreneurs, according to soon-to-be former owner Aiki Terashima, who has operated the restaurant and music venue at 401 Grove St. since 2016.

Running the restaurant since Feb. 1 have been new owners Kevin Kress and Jeff Spencer, who have teamed up to purchase one of Sonoma’s iconic dance hall and dining establishments. The close of escrow is pending, but they have taken over operations as of the beginning of the month, according to a message from Kress.

Sonoma-grown Kress, a longtime raiser of champion pygmy goats, has left his position as vice president of Gordon Biersch Brewing Co. to manage the renowned Grove Street space which, for many years, was the Little Switzerland restaurant. Jeff Spencer is a longtime Sonoma resident and active CPA.

The two seem nearly giddy at the idea of making the Reel even better and more fun than it is. All kitchen and bar staff are staying on and will continue with Terashima’s menu for the time being, say the new owners. Former sous chef Travis Gullarian has been promoted to chef.

In an email to the Index-Tribune, Terashima said it was last August when Kress and Spencer first approached him about purchasing the Reel.

“They expressed an absolute desire to own the Reel, calling it ‘their dream restaurant’ that they have been searching for,” said Terashima. “They have had a long-term desire to own and run a restaurant.”

Added Terashima: “The Reel will still be known for bringing in full, fresh fish focused on sustainable and wild product. The Reel will continue to bring great music to Sonoma.”

The Reel is the fourth restaurant Terashima has sold, he said.

As for his immediate future, Terashima says he is taking a few months off for a family road trip to the Grand Canyon and Zion National Park – and to consider his next venture.

“We currently have three interested investors with three potential possibilities in Sonoma and Sonoma County, including a high-end Asian fusion concept,” said Terashima. He said he is also considering opening a restaurant-consulting business.

“At the moment, we are incredibly excited to take some time off and enjoy the fruits of our labor,” Terashima said.

The Reel is open 11 a.m. to closing Tuesday through Sunday. 401 Grove St., Sonoma. 343-0044.

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