Sammy’s Woodfired Pizza and The Fish Market

Two dining icons celebrate three decades of culinary excellence

Posted on August 15, 2019

With hard work and commitment to a vision, great things can happen. Such is certainly the case for Sami Ladeki, the noted restaurateur, and for the group behind The Fish Market. These culinary leaders are both celebrating a 30th anniversary this year.

Early in his career, Ladeki spent nearly a decade of management service at the Royal Sonesta Hotel in New Orleans’ French Quarter. He then joined Caesars Palace in Las Vegas, followed by the world-renowned Princess Hotel in Bermuda. In 1983, Ladeki opened La Cave de Rois, an upscale restaurant and nightclub in Houston. From there, his career took him to Atlanta, and then Los Angeles. But Ladeki fell in love with San Diego over several visits, and became determined to make his mark in SoCal, particularly in La Jolla.

In 1989, Ladeki opened his first Sammy’s Woodfired Pizza, introducing San Diegans to pizzas cooked in a wood-burning oven. The concept was an instant success. In the mid-’90s, he opened two Sammy’s outlets in Tokyo, a decision that led to his interest in the Pacific Rim cuisine he would debut at La Jolla’s Roppongi in 1998. (Roppongi closed in 2015.) Ladeki then expanded his dining empire with an innovative restaurant concept, Sammy’s Restaurant & Bar. Located in Nevada, it features lounge-style dining and 24-hour gaming amid floor-to-ceiling windows that overlook lush landscaping.

Today, Sammy’s Woodfired Pizza has 13 locations across Southern California and Nevada. The Sammy’s Woodfired Pizza, Inc. also created Carlsbad’s Toast Gastrobrunch, a casual breakfast and lunch concept. Renowned as a prominent businessman and philanthropic leader, Ladeki is not slowing down any time soon. “Food is like fashion,” he says. “You shouldn’t sit still or you might find yourself out of style.” sammyspizza.com

Meanwhile, in 1976, a sport fisherman, boat captain, gourmet chef, and business partner joined forces to open The Fish Market. None had notable restaurant business experience, but their passion for seafood drove them toward their goal. Today, The Fish Market has grown to six restaurants, including Del Mar/Solana Beach and San Diego, and four locations in Northern California.

This year, the group is celebrating the 30th anniversary of its San Diego locale. The downtown restaurant houses multiple dining experiences including a sushi bar, retail seafood counter, and oyster bar as well as the Top of the Market, a fine dining restaurant located upstairs, which offers a chef-driven menu and spectacular bay views.

The Fish Market prides itself on being a wonderful organization for which to work. In fact, six of the original employees are still working for the downtown location. Thirty years strong, The Fish Market continues to be a world-class seafood restaurant, a downtown icon for locals and tourists alike. thefishmarket.com  Jane Shiomi

The Fish Market San Diego