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Pier 76 Fish Grill @ Apollo Landing

Chris Krajacic was sailing the Pacific Ocean when his boat caught on fire and sank. He lost everything so he contacted his high school friend Michael Santos.

“I got a ticket back and Mike's number was one of the few I had in my memory,” recalled Krajacic who had crossed the Pacific twice before the incident. “I called him up and we kind of just hobbled together a few ideas to get back on our feet.”

With their culinary experience, the friends opened the first Pier 76 Fish Grill in Long Beach five years ago. Cerritos, Riverside and Tustin followed before the opening of their fifth location in El Segundo this past weekend.

“It's casual, it's affordable, it's good and people come back for that genuine hospitality,” Santos said.

Pier 76 is billed as an “American Seafood Eatery.” Krajacic has worked at hotel restaurants in Hawaii and Brazil, was a sous chef at Cafe Del Rey in Marina del Rey and was an executive chef in San Diego and Seal Beach.

When they developed the idea for Pier 76 around seven years ago, they saw a need for “approachable seafood” in the market place. Their “humble beginnings” started in a 25-seat restaurant in Long Beach. Dishes such as their langostino and lobster roll and the smoked fish tacos have “stood the test of time.”

“For the most part you can get a battered Baja style fish taco anywhere with pico de gallo sauce, but with our fish, it's a smoked fish with a jalapeno mandarin salsa,” Krajacic said.

Pier 76 also features traditional dishes including fish and chips, as well as salads and other specialties like mussels over fries and a poke bowl.

Krajacic said everything, including their clam chowder, is made from scratch and in-house.

“We use a lot more vegetables than you might find at just a fish and chip place where it's proteins and starches,” Krajacic said. “We've got broccoli and Brussels sprouts to sticky green beans... our ceviche is a Pacific Island style with coconut milk.”

The new Pier 76 is located at 2171 Rosecrans Ave. in El Segundo, in the new Apollo Landing development.

For more information, visit pier76fishgrill.com.

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