“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 and went on to open Tin Roof Bistro (2009), Simmzy’s Manhattan Beach (2009), and Manhattan Beach Post (2011).
In 2007, Mike partnered with Chef Anne Conness to develop Tin Roof Bistro in Manhattan Beach. Amidst delays, they stumbled upon vacant space just steps from the ocean in Manhattan Beach and decided (along with Mike’s 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. Now in 2012, Mike looks forward to sharing his knowledge and passion for wine and beer with the community of Belmont Shore at Simmzy’s much anticipated second location.
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 daughters, or planning his next aerial flight over California’s wine regions.
We asked Mike to answer some questions regarding his business in Manhattan Beach. This is what he said:
1. How long have you been doing business in Manhattan Beach?
As a family 40 years. Personally, I opened my first restaurant, Simmzy’s, 5 years ago.
2. What made you choose Manhattan Beach?
When I was in college, I would visit my brother here in MB on my breaks from school. Coming from snowy mid-state NY, I thought this place was paradise. (Shhhh….It actually is). When I decided to move back to Los Angeles, there was only one place on my list.
3. How could we make doing business here easier?
Foster a business friendly culture by continuously reinforcing and touting the wonderful contributions business bring to our community.
4. How did you engage the community when you first started?
I held a “Beer Judging” at Tin Roof just before we opened Simmzy’s. The guests were invited to taste and judge the selection of beers. The top 24 beers created the opening tap list at Simmzy’s. Since then, we’ve supported all types of charities and organizations that make our community stronger.
5. What would you recommend for prospective business owners?
Get involved in the community as much as possible. It’s a great place to live and work. They more you know about your neighbors, the more successful you will be.
6. What’s your take on the evolving chamber?
I love passionate people, and the chamber is filled with them. Keep it up!
Mike’s restaurants will also be partaking in Bite at the Beach happening on May 17th at the MBS Media Campus (1600 Rosecrans Ave in Manhattan Beach). He will also be speaking in a panel session during the day on the topic “Fun with Beer” – which you know will be a good time! Tickets can be purchased on the website www.biteatthebeach.com until May 16th at 11:59pm.