Leonard Cohen

Co-owner, Ciopinot Seafood Grille and Oyster Bar


NEW TIMES: What was the thought behind the name of your new restaurant, Ciopinot?
COHEN: It’s a blend of a great cioppino-base fish stew and the pinot grape. White pinots go great with the oyster bar and pinot noirs are a match made in heaven with our cioppinos.

NEW TIMES: What other dishes will you be serving?
COHEN: Primarily seafood. That doesn’t mean we won’t have chicken dishes or pasta dishes. We’ll probably have the best steaks in the area, too. We don’t want to have a couple in which the lady loves seafood and the husband loves steak and they choose to go to a steak restaurant. I want people to know we have the best steaks here for a reasonable price. Also, we’ll be the only restaurant in the area with an oyster bar. So, you can get fresh oysters that are shucked, there’ll be oysters with different toppings on them, and there’ll be oysters that are baked a few different ways.

NEW TIMES: What made you decide to open your restaurant now?
COHEN: Well, I think we started planning on doing this restaurant in San Luis Obispo before they told us there was a recession. We looked at San Luis for years and we wanted to see if someone was going to fill this specific niche of a fine seafood restaurant and oyster bar with a good focus on wines and a real emphasis on quality of service. So, we saw a niche and we went for it.

: How did you get your start in the restaurant business?
COHEN: My father built Olde Point Inn in Avila in 1971. I’ve run it since 1984. So, I have about 24 years of experience running a restaurant and about 30 years in the business. I feel confident that I understand the restaurant business and that I understand what the customers want.

NEW TIMES: What is your target market?
COHEN: Professionals from 30 to 65 years old will be very comfortable here. We are catering everything toward them. That doesn’t mean by any means that we are not going to want, and open arms to, college students because there are students who appreciate good food, appreciate oysters, and love fine wines.

NEW TIMES: What would bring people back to Ciopinot?
COHEN: One, our wine list will make our customers feels like kids in a candy store. They’re going to have a hard time choosing which wine they want. So, they’re going to be thinking about when they come back, what other wines they’re going to try. Two, we have the best crab cakes that I’ve ever had. They’re by far the best crab cakes in the county.

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