Mike Stollenwerk is out of Fish, the Center City seafooder, he told me Monday night.
Stollenwerk was vague on the reason, but wanted to thank his customers, focus on his family, and move on. I'm waiting for comment from lawyer Evan Prochniak, who owns the business as well as its corner bar called Rhino Bar.
This development caps a wild six years for the chef. Let's reel it all in:
In early 2007, Stollenwerk - an Ocean City, N.J., native who previously was chef at the Old Swedes Inn in South Jersey - bought the shoebox-size BYOB called Little Fish at Sixth and Catharine Streets, where Blue Belly BBQ is now. Little Fish was a critical darling.
Stollenwerk went uptown in fall 2009 by adding a bigger joint - simply called Fish - at 1708 Lombard St.
But 2011 brought an odd series of events. Stollenwerk opened and quickly sold off a seafood bar called Fathom Seafood House in Fishtown; it's now East Girard Gastropub. He sold Little Fish (which by then had moved to Bella Vista) to his chef Chadd Jenkins. In the early days of 2012, Fish moved into the corner of 13th and Locust Streets. But by May, Prochniak and Stollenwerk were at odds, and the restaurant closed briefly. After it reopened, the men seemed at peace. In October, Fish moved a short distance east on Locust Street into smaller space within the Independent Hotel, while the corner became Rhino Bar - less ambitious, more of a taproom.
Stollenwerk referred further inquiries to publicist James Zeleniak of Punch Media.
Update: Prochniak said Stollenwerk's parting was a "business decision." New chef at Fish/Rhino Bar is Adán Trinidad, who'd been chef de cuisine. Trinidad started in the biz 17 years ago as a dishwasher at La Campagne in Cherry Hill and has exec cheffing under his belt at Water Works and El Vez here and at Zengo in New York City.