Justin's smiling because he's not sitting in traffic . . .yet.
Justin's smiling because he's not sitting in traffic . . .yet.
Photo by Jennifer Fedrizzi

On the Line: Justin Lopez of Stonefire Grill, Part Two

A family guy in the non-traditional sense, Justin Lopez joined the restaurant business to make a good thing even better. His commitment to Stonefire translates to food-centric extracurricular time and travels that inspire new dishes. Here are a few more noteworthy facts about our subject.

We started our interview with Justin yesterday in part one. And now, let's continue with part two . . .

What's your favorite childhood memory? As a big family, we used to spend weeks of every summer and winter in June Lake, California. It's still one of my favorite places on the planet.

How do you incorporate your degrees in political science and communications to your work? I'd like to think they come in handy every day. More than anything, both of them very simply taught me the importance of a consistent, relevant message. It's a concept that plays in my head over and over again when I'm at work.

When you're not in the restaurant, what are you doing in your free time? I'm kind of a nerd and like to read about the competition, study menus, pick apart websites and social media platforms. You know, normal stuff. I also have a really tight-knit group of friends and family that I enjoy spending time with regularly.

Where did you grow up? I grew up in the suburbs outside of Los Angeles-- Oak Park, to be exact. Our restaurants bring me to Orange County.

What made you decide to go vegetarian? Growing up, my dad worked in the meat-packing industry. Should I keep going?

Last thing you looked up online: SVG icon fonts.

Do you have any skills that are not food-related? I like to pretend I'm a Sunday DIY-er at home. I'm working on it.

Hardest lesson you've learned? Oh man, I don't know if we have enough time for this one. Don't book a return ticket anywhere unless you have to? Let's keep it there.

Last song playing on your radio: Old Highway 9 by King Washington.

Last book read or movie watched: Movies: Lone Survivor. Oliver Stone gave me a whole new appreciation for the sacrifices involved in serving our nation. Also, Chef, but I was expecting a whole lot more Scarlett Johansson/Dustin Hoffman and much less Twitter. Book: The Primes (Chris McGoff). It's a straightforward approach to effectively leading in the workplace.

Is there anything you'd like readers to know about Stonefire Grill? There's a food trend right now to open up a bag and heat something; to produce food off-site and have it delivered to your restaurant for guests to eat. You see it in more and more restaurants, and you just never know. That's not us. We make real, simple and delicious food every day in a big kitchen because it's what we love to do.

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