Dog adoption was the last topic I expected to be an icebreaker during a conversation with Ryan Shuck of Julien-K. But there we were, minutes into an interview talking about his ability to take a few precious moments out of his day rescue man's best friend.
"I saw this dog stumbling down the street all bloody. I hung up the phone call I was on pulled over, wrapped him up in a blanket and took him to the hospital to save him, says Shuck in a recent phone conversation. "About a week later I went to check on him and ended up adopting him."
These are the kinds of things I like hearing when I start an interview. It's nice to know right away that you're talking to an actual human and not some ego-tripping rock star douche.
Luckily, that's just the kind of compassion you need to have if you want a good reputation in the service industry. Not only are Shuck a veteran in the music world his is also a restauranteur. Along with bandmate Amir Derakh, he is part-owner of various restaurants like Lola Gaspar and Gypsy Den. These days he's preparing to open a new Gypsy Den location in downtown Anaheim. Similar to the Santa Ana and Costa Mesa locations, Shuck's emphasis on the warm, tapestry-laden bohemian vibe is key. The atmosphere continues to be inspired by cafés he visited while living in Berlin, Germany where he lived for three months prior to starting the Gypsy Den. They were the kind of places where people would go for breakfast, lunch, dinner and they would go for drinks later. "I took a lot of these elements and tailored them so they were unique and special to us, Shuck says. "I think we created a great neighborhood hang out in Anaheim. They did not have that before, we created it."
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Shuck takes the interior of the restaurant, which he designed himself, very seriously and is working on matching the general aesthetic of the other locations while experimenting with different stylistic elements as well. In the process of making it look good, he's been pretty harsh on himself. "I own the failure of it if no one likes it and I own the success of it," Shuck says. It's common for business managers to blame their fuck-ups on someone else rather then acknowledging that perhaps they were the ones that destroyed it. That could be one of the reason why they are doing so well as a company, he puts in 15-hour days getting the place up to snuff.
Although his band Julien-K, playing the Observatory on Saturday, has many different types of musical talents---guitarist player and restaurant business partner Amir Derakh is also a DJ-- don't expect to hear any of them play at the restaurant. Shuck had explained by saying "No we haven't thought about that. We're not about using music as a gimmick. Music is something that helps paint a picture it helps create an atmosphere. It's something that we help use to create a vibe." Instead a playlist is made to create a mood "It's not about a specific style or Ryan Shuck's favorite band, its about tempos, feeling, vocal styles, and instruments that are used," Shuck says. "The things that I think are modern right now." The band is, however, preparing to put out a record next month--the deluxe edition of their sophomore album, We're Here With You--with U.S, and international tours to follow.
We're defiantly excited to see how the new restaurant turns out. If all of his other company's have worked thus far, then there is no reason that this one won't be as successful as the others especially if he keeps this mind set. The new Gypsy Den will be located in old town Anaheim right next to Disney Ice, where the Ducks train for their season.