Mike Stollenwerk used to own Little Fish, and everyone loved Little Fish. After that, he opened a few other places: Fathom Seafood House in Fishtown and Fish, twice — once in Graduate Hospital, and then again on the corner of 13th and Locust Streets. Stollenwerk sold Little Fish to current owner Chadd Jenkins, and Fish, because of investor issues, became an awkward situation that he chose to leave. Fish has since closed (and eventually transformed into Bud & Marilyn's), as did Fathom. Then, he was found cooking in Branzino, then Headhouse Crab & Oyster Co., then Di Bruno Bros. corporate kitchens. Afterward, he left Philly for Indianapolis, for six months. How'd he get to Indianapolis?
A slew of difficult and unfortunate business decisions can take a real toll on a person, and Stollenwerk was in a deep funk. When a friend of his told him he was moving back home, the chef decided to tag along to take a break and get away.
"Looking back, I should've never expanded. I should've kept [Little Fish]. You know, you learn a lot of stuff the hard way, and I expanded too fast." Stollenwerk concedes that he became the face of a investor/chef partnership gone rotten. "I lost everything. Everything I had."
Even his weight. The chef lost 160 lbs. in a year. "I got on an airplane once, and I needed an extender for the seatbelt, and I thought that's enough." Now, he's at the gym every day, eating healthier than ever, with a diet plan he created for himself (he was a Food Science major at Drexel).
In just about two weeks, North 26, the seafood-centric BYOB Stollenwerk will open in Old City (north of Market Street!), marking Stollenwerk's return to his city. The restaurant will be open for lunch and dinner, and he'll be running the show entirely — no investors, no bouncing from kitchen to kitchen, just him, his restaurant, and of course, his seafood.
Here are the lunch and dinner menus: