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Monterey celebrity Chef John Pisto sells popular Whaling Station Steakhouse

John Pisto preparing food inside Whaling Station Steakhouse in Monterey.
John Pisto preparing food inside Whaling Station Steakhouse in Monterey.
Photo courtesy of the official John Pisto Facebook Page

Celebrity Chef John Pisto's Whaling Station Steakhouse has been sold for an undisclosed amount. According to Mike Hale at the Monterey Herald, restaurateurs Jim Gilbert and Kevin Phillips have purchased the popular Monterey steakhouse from Pisto. This puts an end to a remarkable 54-year run on the Peninsula.

Kevin Phillips commented about the recent purchase, stating to Hale "A lot of area restaurants serve steaks, but it is widely known that there is only one iconic steakhouse on the Peninsula, the one created by chef extraordinaire John Pisto,". Phillips, has worked as Pisto's general manager on many restaurant endeavours for eleven years.

"I'm humbled by the awesome responsibility to carry on what John started and the fact that he felt I was the one most qualified to do so." said Phillips to Mike Hale, who assisted with the Pisto re-launch of The Whaling Station in 1997, in which they swapped a menu centered on Seafood for USDA Prime steaks.

"Jim and Kevin are natural fits," said Pisto to Mike Hale. "Jim is a quiet guy but one of the sharpest businessmen in this area, and Kevin knows the business and certainly this restaurant." Pisto also added, according to Mike Hale at the Monterey Herald.

Jim Gilbert owns Gilbert's, Rappa's 2.0 and Abalonetti Bar & Grill on Fisherman's Wharf. Gilbert additionally made some local noise a little more than a year ago by premiering The Beach House at Lovers Point in Pacific Grove. Phillips is his managing general partner and responsible for the day-to-day operations at all of the restaurants. Gilbert bought The Whaling Station from Pisto for an undisclosed sum, and signed a 20-year lease with the Cannery Row Co. according the Herald.

There are no plans to change anything about The Whaling Station at this time, according to sources close to the deal.

When asked about why he decided to sell Whaling Station Steakhouse, Pisto, 71, told the Mike Hale of the Monterey Herald "It's time,"

Mark Anderson of Monterey County Weekly also quoted Pisto as saying "I love the food industry," Pisto says, "and I love the restaurant industry. But it's tough. And I just want to pursue my passion."

About Whaling Station Steakhouse
John Pisto opened The Whaling Station in 1971 in a run down building above Cannery Row. He introduced innovative restaurant concepts to a dining public already seduced by the groundbreaking Sardine Factory down the street.

Whaling Station Steakhouse is known for its Prime beef (some of it hanging in Pisto's on-site dry-aging room), prime rib wheeled to the table on an antique 1930s-era silver carving trolley, Caesar salads tossed tableside, and expert service, with some staff members holding decades of service under Pisto.

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