Janis Wallace, head chef for George & Wendy's Seafood Grille, is on a mission. Under her tutelage since July, the restaurant steadily has increased its TripAdvisor ranking to No. 10. She is aiming for a spot in the top three.
Wallace brings her extensive experience in the restaurant business and tireless work ethic to every restaurant she's worked in.
"The restaurant business is in my blood," she said. "I've been in it since I was 12 years old."
New head Chef Janis Wallace (left) with George & Wendy's Seafood Grille owner George Schnapp.
Starting in Detroit, Mich., Wallace worked with her father at Elmer's Hamburgers, a family mainstay for over 50 years.
"I credit my father, Leonard Wallace, for my strong work ethic - it all started with him," said Janis. "He still gets up every day and goes to work at the restaurant."
Wallace has lived and worked in Southwest Florida on and off for 24 years. Her most recent position was executive chef at the Twilight and Stone Crab restaurants on Sanibel. Prior to that, she could be found on Fort Myers Beach at the East Coast Restaurant and Junkanoo. During a 10-year stint on Fort Myers Beach, she was featured in the Gulf Coast Woman Magazine as woman of the month.
"I have a following that can also experience George & Wendy's," she said. "I've redone the menu to accommodate anyone that walks through the door and our focus is on getting delicious food out in a timely and consistent manner."
Apparently her influence is working. The restaurant is getting positive feedback on all fronts. In fact, a "secret shopper" dropped in recently and gave them a 100 percent grade on food temperature, presentation and taste.
Part of Janis' secret is bringing in dishes that have served her well in the past as well as creating menu items that no one else has. She blends different flavors bistro-style for that unique taste. Some of her specialties are slow-cooked meats, including prime rib and BBQ ribs. You'll also find traditional Italian food, a wide array of seafood and, from her humble beginnings, Detroit Sliders.
Being the head chef is not for the faint of heart.
"It's a hard, demanding, stressful position both mentally and physically," said Wallace. "I have a God-given talent I'm blessed."
Her new position at George & Wendy's is a good fit as she sees it.
"I consider this my second home and am very comfortable with the people I work for. I appreciate them as much as they appreciate me," Wallace said.
You can experience the creative genius of Chef Janis at George & Wendy's Seafood Grille, 2499 Periwinkle Way, seven days a week 11 a.m. to midnight or later, plus Sunday brunch 9 a.m.-1 p.m.
For more information call 239-395-1263 or visit www.sanibelseafoodgrille.com, or on Facebook.