Forktales Ep 11 / Andrew Gruel / Founder of SlapFish, Challenger of Seafood Lies

Started as a chef, and is now a restaurant industry leader, Andrew Gruel has a fantastic story of his journey. He spent years at the helm of Seafood for the Future, a non-profit focused on sustainable resourcing of the Pacific ocean and its bounty of life. When that opportunity ended, he launched in Slapfish, a food truck that took the nation and social media by storm. From that truck, the brand flourished into a growing brand that spans the nation.


  • “In scaling, you’ve got two options, you either gain investment and you grow company stores or you establish a standard and you grow a franchise model” -Andrew
  • “There are two stages at which franchisors are attractive to franchisees. The first stage is when you’ve only got one or two locations because what I’ve realized is that the larger high net worth franchises look at that as an opportunity to take the brand and control the brand”
  • “I went from being a restaurateur, a creative, a chef, to effectively a babysitter for people with a lot of money” -Andrew
  • “If you really want to change behaviors, you have to show a path and then of course at the very worst case scenario, you just need to take the toy away” – Joseph
  • “When you do get into franchising, just assume that it’s a marriage and your franchise agreement is a prenup and it’s not gonna get broken” – Andrew
  • “If you’re bringing on partners that don’t necessarily believe in the same things you believe in, you have an incongruent brand and you have to anticipate that there’s gonna be major and massive struggles” -Andrew
  • “For Slapfish, the sourcing of the main product (seafood), it’s foundational, it’s the number one thing that makes Slapfish unique” -Joseph
  • “Sustainability is dead, its been dead for a decade” -Andrew
  • “People are staying away from the restaurant industry as well because collectively, Americans have lost their damn minds” -Andrew
  • “Money is such a lazy area to identify as a driver or hinderance to hiring” -Andrew
  • “Your strongest and most important asset is to any business is the human capital” -Andrew


  • How is Slapfish truly sustainable? Sustainability is dead, it’s been dead for a decade.
  • Farmed Salmon vs/ Fresh Salmon – farming seafood is one of the most environmentally friendly things you can do to relieve pressure off wildstock. Environments have been created that are more efficient than nature.  
  • Talent Struggle
    • The media is painting it with brushes that don’t necessarily paint the truth. 
    • When you speak out, you risk being cancelled. 
  • The Ritz-Carlton had a principle years ago – “Ladies and gentlemen serving ladies and gentlemen”
  • Customers are equal to team members
  • Favorite item on Slapfish menu — HealthyPower Bowl, Indulging – Chowder Fries – fries smothered in clam chowder
  • Next for Slapfish — new menu, different locations, new partner out of Texas, new footprint, new format of store, put bar in flagship in Huntington Beach, multiple locations in the SW region. Maybe start franchising again?

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