Thirty Years of Love,Laughter & Adventure – Greg and Chell Amsler
“I always wanted to own my own business, whatever it was going to be” said Salt Creek Grille Valencia owner Greg Amsler. “I was a business major at University of Iowa, graduated with a degree in sales and marketing, and was ready to join the work force.”
A strong work ethic, and the strength of family are two things that were instilled into both Greg and his wife Chell Amsler when they were growing up in the Midwest. Greg and Chell’s love story began many years ago in high school. Yes, you read that right, these two have been sweethearts since their senior year. And when you see them together you will immediately know why. The chemistry and connection between the two is totally palpable, completely honest and just darn sweet!
“We met in 10th grade and became friends,” said Greg. “I asked Chell out the summer before our senior year of high school, and we have been together ever since.” “August 12, 1980 to be exact,” Chell added with a sweet smile.
The two were married after graduating from the University of Iowa. Greg worked out of the Quad Cities for Montgomery Elevator Company. He trained in eastern Iowa for about six month then was offered three different marketplaces to choose from and Los Angeles was one of them.
“I had never been west of Omaha, Nebraska and the idea of going to California was so enticing. We made the decision and landed at the beach for about three years,” said Chell. “We found a little one bedroom apartment in Redondo Beach with an oceanfront view and you could hear the seals at night. We were young, in love and building our future in 500 square feet— and now, we are just trying to get back to the ocean,” Greg said with a chuckle.
Chell went to work for Islands Fine Burgers & Drinks as the Corporate Manager. It was the early 80’s in Orange County where Chell, her brother Pete Truxaw and his friend Tim McCune gained the knowledge as well as experience that would help them become successful business owners. Pete, Greg and Tim had talked over beers developing the vision to open multiple restaurants with a similar theme and menu, but naming them locally. It was also during that time that Greg and Chell were called back to the Midwest as Greg found an opportunity with Johnson and Johnson in Omaha.
“I became an independent rep for Johnson and Johnson and worked with a distributor who owned his own business. He had three employees and watching him run his company fueled my drive to have a business of my own,” said Amsler.
It was during the five years the Amsler’s spent in the Midwest that Pete and Tim opened the first Salt Creek Grille in Dana Point, choosing the name from Salt Creek Beach Park – a popular surfing location with small, offshore reefs that create some of the best left swells along the entire coastline. They created an upscale yet casual American-themed grille, where friends and family would come to relax and savor a unique dining experience.
The success of the first location inspired the partners to open another restaurant with the same theme on the East Coast in Rumson, New Jersey and then later in Princeton. During the construction of the Rumson location, the Navesink Grille (named for the local Navesink River), the property landlord and the business partners got to talking. Pete and Tim shared their vision of growth and their new landlord offered a key bit of advice. “You know if you want to open a bunch of these, you might want to brand them.”
“It all happened so fast— my brother Pete and his business partner Tim already had all of the printed materials done. Stationery, business cards, the works, but everyone knew that branding was the way to go,” said Chell Amsler. “We spent five years in Omaha before we came back to California in 1997 with our kids to officially join the Salt Creek Grille family.”
In 1999, Greg and Chell – along with partner Jeff Kreitzman–purchased Salt Creek Grille Valencia from Pete and Tim, and have been successfully running the business for more than 17 years.
“Our family has grown with our three children, Colin (26), Caroline (22) and Claire (17), plus our extended Salt Creek family. At the restaurant, I think we have had nine marriages and countless love connections. We are watching their little ones grow up now and it’s all coming full circle. We really do feel so incredibly blessed with our life,” said Chell.
Most nights you can catch the Amsler’s keeping up with the hustle and bustle of life, raising three spectacular kids and enjoying the life they have worked so hard to create.