Justin Pachota is the President of Venice Pier Group, which operates Sharky’s on the Pier, Fins at Sharky's and Snook Haven. Growing up in the restaurant industry, it was a natural fit for Justin to earn a degree in hospitality management from the University of Central Florida. When he’s not working, Justin enjoys spending time with his family – his wife, Cheri, his son, Jeremiah and his daughter, Ryela. Justin also coaches his son’s baseball team.
Mike Pachota, Vice President of Venice Pier Group, was born and raised in a small suburb outside of Detroit. After several successful business ventures in Michigan, Mike and his family – wife Donna and two sons, Justin and Nick – headed south to Venice and opened “Patches," their first restaurant. In 1986, he won the bid to convert the site of an old, dilapidated beach concession into a restaurant standing at the base of the Venice Fishing Pier.
Sharky’s on the Pier opened on February 10th, 1987. It had only 78 seats. Today, Sharky’s has evolved into what is now a Venice landmark with a wide range of dining options. As the popularity of Sharky’s grew, Mike and his son Justin opened Fins at Sharky’s, a polished casual steak, seafood and sushi restaurant located adjacent to Sharky’s in December of 2013. Completing the waterfront dining trifecta, Mike added historic smokehouse Snook Haven, which is located smack 'dab on the Myakka River, to the mix in February of 2013. When not working, Mike loves to golf and is a huge Michigan State fan. Go Spartans!
Marc Alton, Executive Chef of Fins at Sharky’s, started his career in the food service industry at the early age of 14 working for his dad in the family bakery. There, he learned about everything from making bread to frying donuts. After graduating from Sarasota High School, Alton completed a two-year apprenticeship at La Chambre, a French restaurant, where he learned the ropes around the kitchen and became well-versed in French cuisine. Alton continued his journey through the food service industry over the next 10 years and worked his way up from Sous Chef to Executive Chef at three different restaurants in Sarasota. Each offered new experiences and challenges, which allowed Alton to grow and develop into the critically-acclaimed Chef he is today.
Alton started working at Sharky’s on the Pier over 23 years ago as the Kitchen Manager and quickly rose to Executive Chef. At Sharky’s, Alton helped secure wins for the 2010 and 2012 local Iron Chef Award, a huge accomplishment. Alton helped Sharky’s grow from a restaurant that originally accommodated 78 seats to an establishment with a wide range of dining options. As the popularity of Sharky’s grew, the owners decided to expand. When Fins at Sharky's opened in the Fall of 2013, Alton became the Executive Chef.
Located right next door to Sharky’s, Fins at Sharky’s opened its doors on December 13th, 2013, added 182 seats for dining and brought a fresh new take to a renowned brand – all while still boasting the most incredible Gulf views on Florida's west coast. Fins at Sharky’s menu goes well beyond what customers expect from a beach bar.
“We are dedicated to presenting menu items that embrace our proximity to the Gulf while speaking to a more serious food and wine customer. We are integrating the best of Sharky’s, enhanced with inspiration from other sources, to create a unique dining experience,” Alton said.
In Alton’s spare time, he enjoys traveling, where he says he “eats his way through” countries such as Germany, Austria, Italy and France, just to name a few. Alton is also the founder of Sharky’s Ride the Beaches LIVESTRONG fundraising event, which has raised over $175,000 for charity in the last 13 years.
Ismail Oztas, Executive Chef of Fins, is originally from Turkey. In 2000, he moved to Paris, France to be closer to him family. Upon moving to Paris, he became greatly interested in the city’s rich and all-encompassing food culture.
Oztas made the decision to become a cook and acquired a job at la Fontaine de Mars. His initial position was as a dishwasher and, from there, he rapidly grew in his career by moving to prep cook, line cook and, a year later, sous chef.
While working in Europe, Oztas learned many French cooking techniques. In his free time, he traveled to Italy, Rome, Sicily, Belgium, Holland, Switzerland, Germany and all throughout France to continue to grow his experience. Oztas said that working throughout Europe helped him grow his passion and knowledge for cooking.
In March of 2006, Oztas moved to Milwaukee, WI, to work under corporate chef Adam Siegal – a Best Chef in the Midwest nominee – for Bartollota’s Restaurant Group. He said that working at Bartollota’s helped him glean experience in a fine dining establishment. In 2010, he began working for Hotel Ambassadors, which gave him the chance to create both daily and seasonal menus.
According to Executive Chef Oztas, food doesn’t need to be complicated.
“It’s important to know where food comes from,” Oztas said. “I identify my own food philosophy as “globally inspired and locally created,” being a process that begins with premium ingredients, then with sourcing the best product available to focus on incredible flavor.”