Lexi Jozwiak, our GM and Wonder Woman, has immersed herself deeply in every aspect of the restaurant business over her 18 years in the industry. Hers is an interesting and impressive story. She has consistently sought, accepted then mastered all challenges.
Showing from the start her now-legendary energy and willingness to take on more, or more difficult, duties, Lexi rose quickly through the ranks at Outback Steakhouse learning all aspects of front-of-house (FOH) operations and taking on P&L responsibilities which opened the doors to increasing corporate responsibilities. New site to open? Lexi’s the one. Staff training? Send for Lexi. POS system down? Operations Systems and Processes? HR? Need someone to sort out problems? Well you can guess.
Among Lexi’s guiding principles are a focus on hospitality and food (which must be high quality) is to be made from scratch. And so she took an AGM position in a San Francisco Financial District restaurant and, for more than a year, while she was Acting-GM, took that restaurant to their highest ever sales while also acquiring ever-better reviews from patrons.
Ready for the challenge of a GM position at a high quality, high volume restaurant she joined the Ozumo group. Lexi is a force of nature, and consummate professional, able to manage the (literally) 1,000’s of actions each day while remaining focused on guests, staff, culture and of course the fun stuff like accounting. Lexi has been with us since 2016 and has established herself as a key part of our Ozumo team.
Salvador Alvarez is the Executive Chef of Ozumo Santana Row. A graduate of Le Cordon Bleu’s Culinary Arts program in Pasadena, Calif., Chef Sal began his culinary journey as an extern for a TV series starred and produced by celebrity British Chef Jamie Oliver for Food Revolution II, where he served as a prep and line cook. He also assisted in mentoring high school students on proper food preparation and in culinary competitions, as the show’s premise was to reform the U.S. school lunch programs, help fight obesity, and encourage healthier eating habits.
Chef Sal spent over six years training under Chef Katsuya Uechi of Katsu-ya Group, one of only four master sushi chefs in Los Angeles, whom he considers his mentor. He worked for Katsu-ya Group in Glendale prior to becoming a junior sous chef at the Hollywood location, a staple dining spot for celebrities, and further honed his skills in Japanese cuisine as a sous chef at the Brentwood location. He then moved up to be part of the corporate chef team with Katsu-ya Group. As a corporate chef, some of his responsibilities included venue floating, chef training in inventory, food oversight for quality assurance and consistency, menu design, recipe development, product sourcing and BOH training programs. Chef Sal was most recently executive sous chef at True Foods Kitchen in Santa Monica, where he helped manage a $12M fast-paced high-volume restaurant.
At Ozumo Santana Row, Chef Sal oversees the contemporary Japanese Izakaya menu of elevated sushi made with warm rice and crispy nori, robata grill skewers grilled over binchotan charcoal, in addition to other signature Japanese dishes. Commonly described as Dzdrinking fooddz, Chef Sal’s menu offers tasty small dishes while utilizing local seasonal produce, meats, and seafood that are sustainably sourced.
Zeyuan Wang has dedicated the last 15 years of his career furthering his mastery of Japanese foods, their preparation and cooking techniques. This includes 4 years in Tokyo where he became fluent in Japanese.
Zeyuan was inspired by Japanese food at an early age. First stop was a four-year spell at a large Izakaya restaurant in central Tokyo, learning fluent Japanese while he was there. The wide variety of dishes served at Izakaya provides excellent grounding in so many aspects of Japanese cuisine. And the pressure of maintaining the highest quality in a high volume kitchen further launched his talents.
Returning to the Bay Area, while further broadening and refining his knowledge and techniques of all things Japanese food related, Zeyuan also developed his kitchen management and menu creation skills during spells at Hachi Ju Hachi, Kaeyama and Kenji Sushi in Sous Chef and Head Chef roles. His knife skills and talent developing seasonal dishes, are reflected across different Japanese cooking styles.
The arrival of Ozumo Izakaya with Chef Alvarez in Santana Row was the perfect platform for Zeyuan to join as Sous Chef, and help develop and manage the high quality – high volume Ozumo kitchen.
Rob Floyd is one of the most recognized names in the cocktail industry. With over 25 years of experience, he is hailed as one of the best mixologists in the world. As a notable cocktail guru, he is a resident mixologist on the hit TV show Bar Rescue, Back to the Bar and Mixed, and is cited in publications worldwide like Esquire, Maxim, and People Magazine. He has also written and appeared as an industry expert for a variety of media outlets including the Wall Street Journal, Times of London, CBS, and Fox.
Rob’s greatest niche is his ability to create luxury cocktails that are both accessible and inspiring. His focus on history and story combined with under-the-radar ingredients to create not just a cocktail, but an adventure in a glass. After rewriting famed programs like The Bazaar and the Library Bar, Rob went on to found RX Liquid Chef, of which he is the current acting President. RX Liquid Chef focuses its efforts on consulting with top restaurants and casinos across the globe, working to implement world-class drinks and team-based service. He also used it to create a one-of- a-kind theatrical production, Cocktail Theatre, where he dazzles audience members with the magic of molecular techniques as well as tales and stories that create indelible experiences through drink. He hopes that by inspiring a belief in the all-around experience of drinking to change the way people approach alcohol, empowering them to appreciate the whole moment, to engage in a process and a passion, and to relish the adventure.
Rob oversees the bar program at Ozumo Santana Row and has created a cocktail menu focused on both traditional and contemporary with new additions such as the Mono Cham Martini with Grey Goose and rare Japanese baby peaches – flirty, fun, and distinctly unique to Ozumo Santana Row. The bar program also features an extensive sake list, a notable selection of Japanese Whisky, including the sought after 18 and 21-year-old Hibiki, as well as Japanese craft beers and local and regional wine.
In Danny Sprague, our Director of Sake, Ozumo has a serious student and genuine luminary of the US sake world. Fluent in six languages, including Japanese, Danny was the first person ever to pass, at their first attempt, all four levels of Japan’s Sake Education and National Research Institute of Brewing sake Certification. Danny’s in depth sake knowledge and refined palate continues to drive Ozumo’s superb sake offerings.
Danny’s experience in Japanese restaurants and customer hospitality stretches over 19 years. He worked in various roles in Japanese restaurants, attended both San Francisco State and Yonsei (Seoul, Korea) universities – where he applied himself to Asian Cultural Studies – then focused his career again on Japanese restaurants. He acquired a full spectrum of skillsets from the back-office administration, to daily floor operations, and to overall sales management.
Ozumo’s decision to have a dedicated in-house sake specialist and Danny’s study ethics, cultural and languages background met happily in 2013. His knowledge of sake and commitment to providing our guests with the finest selections from across Japan, including from tiny artisan makers, fits perfectly with Ozumo’s ethos and long history.
Danny, in his role as Director of Sake, is central to one of Ozumo’s goals: to promote and spread the enjoyment of this most varied, fragrant and subtle drink. We invite all guests to let him help you select some sake to enjoy by itself or to be paired with your dining choices. Or just talk sake with him. His knowledge is encyclopedic.