Cali BBQ Media is a digital marketing and digital storytelling agency and studio


Hear the latest episodes


See the latest videos


Browse the latest content

Inside the Soft Opening of Graze | Sam the Cooking Guy (DH 023)

Graze Restaurant in San Diego on Digital Hospitality podcast

Is staying in really the new going out? Leave it to Sam the Cooking Guy to get people out of their nooks by throwing a dinner party night in and night out at his newest restaurant Graze.

Offering a laid-back living room setting that makes every guest feel like old friends, he’s taking care of his crew just the same by keeping everything efficient in the kitchen. Lucky for Cali BBQ Media, we got to go behind the scenes at Graze to see just how Sam came up with his latest concept on this episode of Digital Hospitality.

Shawn Walchef interview Sam Zien for Digital Hospitality at GrazeSam the Cooking Guy — the man of 1.5 Million YouTube followers and only one knife — is on his second restaurant in San Diego’s lively Little Italy Food Hall. Located directly across from his first restaurant, Not Not Tacos – yes, yes you read that right – Graze offers at home ambience with fine food that’s just as cozy and comfortable. Trying to unwind on the regular? Graze’s Wine Club offers monthly wines and member perks, complimented by cool beach breezes best enjoyed with the piazza’s outdoor drinking layout.

Graze in San Diego Little Italy Food HallShawn “King of the Soft Opening” Walchef got the inside scoop on Graze from Howard Solomon – a regular on the Cali BBQ Media Podcast and Sam’s righthand man. Howard and Deborah Solomon were previous guests on Digital Hospitality, where they discussed their Solomon 2.0 hospitality leadership coaching business.

Howard Solomon talks to Shawn Walchef on the Digital Hospitality podcast during the Graze soft openingSpecializing on sliders, salads and flatbread, the Graze crew bring recipes to life in a kitchen no bigger than yours backed by creative cooks. The close quarters are both well-staffed and smartly equipped with Easy-Bake Oven efficiency bringing puffy Polpetto di Mano that’ll make you sink into the couch and a hand cranked cutting board stacking up thinly sliced prosciutto you could only get with an airplane and a time-machine.

Howard Solomon slices meat on a hand slicer at GrazeSo, just why did Sam choose to open his newest venture with his smallest kitchen?

“Because we didn’t have room for anything else!”

Trying to do more with less – and succeeding at it – the food comes out faster than the drinks go down with the vibe proving chiller than the beach’s breeze.

Cocktails at Graze with Sam the Cooking Guy“It’s this whole idea of being inside of Sam’s living room and he’s throwing you a dinner party,” explains Howard Solomon of Solomon 2.0.

“It’s very relaxed. Grab a bottle of wine, have a nice cocktail, it’s meant to be a really comfortable environment just like you’re in Sam’s living room. There’s little knick-knacks from his own house, it’s very personalized. It’s on brand and it’s all about Sam.”

Ready to enter Sam’s world? Family photos and couches in the living room make guests and local regulars feel like fast friends with The Cooking Guy. Well-known and also well-traveled, Sam’s use of an indoor/outdoor layout brings a casual combo of bar/restaurant to San Diego that’s usually only seen in Europe. Essentially, modern West Coast cool meets the classic components of the Eastern Hemisphere’s rich food scene. Who’s mad at that? Not us.

Sam the Cooking Guy outside Graze in San DiegoReady to roam? Graze is the name of the space but it’s also the name of the game if you’re using the piazza to its full potential. Say you don’t fall asleep due to comfort food and living room seating to match, you can easily walk 10 seconds across the piazza to Sam’s first baby – Not Not Tacos – to get your Nashville Hot Chicken taco fix.

So, did the perfect night in just combine with the perfect night out? We think so. To recap, just how do you have a good time at Graze? Here’s a step by step process.

  1. Start a group chat with three of your besties to plan dinner and drinks
  2. Arrive at Little Italy Food Hall with said besties on Friday night
  3. Start out at Graze with The Max charcuterie board and Tre Amici flatbread while sinking into the sofa chairs
  4. Pay homage to the owner by ordering Sam’s Favorite cocktail – or two or three of them
  5. Join the member’s only wine club on your way to the outdoor bar as you stroll around the piazza
  6. Repeat Saturday night

Check out our YouTube video for a behind-the-scenes look at Sam the Cooking Guy’s Graze located in San Diego’s lively Little Italy Food Hall. From comparing himself to Billie Eilish to going to work in his own kitchen on a meatball in a puff pastry and tomato sauce – mozzarella? Fuhgeddaboudit! – enjoy this great glimpse at Sam the Cooking Guy in his element.

Inside the Graze kitchen with Sam the Cooking GuySubscribe to Sam the Cooking Guy on YouTube:

Get in touch with the Digital Hospitality podcast team by emailing and visiting

Let us know how we can help you on your digital journey.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *