Stephen Francis Jones

November 07, 2014

 Stephen Francis Jones

1. If you had to begin a different career, what would you do?
That’s really hard because I really love what I do. I suppose I would be a carpenter working with wood because I like making stuff.

2. Of all the places you’ve designed, do you have a personal favorite? And why?
It would have to be MB Post since it’s close to where I live. The client asked me to create a place that represents the soul of Manhattan Beach, the community, and we used reclaimed wood before reclaimed wood was everywhere. It’s where I go to meet friends for a beer.

3. What is your favorite aspect about the design process?
Conceptualizing from the very beginning, I like to get the story down. I listen to the clients’ wishes and in time define and find the story. I love to think through with the project.

4. What’s your most prized possession?
Apart from my family it would be my sketchbook. I lived in Europe for a year and a half---starting by working in Barcelona and I kept a journal/sketchbook. I love to look at my sketches from my travels.

5. What advice would you give to someone starting out in your industry?
Everyday, I look forward to coming to work, it’s my passion and it’s so fulfilling.  You have to do this work because you have passion and designing makes you happy. Don’t do it obviously for money.

6. Who are your top 2 business heroes, and why?
It would have to be Steve Jobs for all that he created--his discipline and passion--and my dad who had his own business. He was not that successful, but he had a silkscreen studio and he instilled in me the entrepreneur spirit and doing my own thing.

7. Where do you go for new ideas and inspiration?
I row in the marina on the water in the early morning. It’s like a Zen experience and it’s where I get my best thoughts. It’s rhythmic and a good time to think creatively.

8. What’s next on your “to do” list?
I need to figure out my travel plans for the next several months—for family, events and work.

9. Your dream day in Orange County?
I’d love to go cycling in the Back Bay, and then play beach volleyball, and of course get something to eat.

10. Favorite place for lunch?
I really love Simmzy’s in Manhattan Beach. It’s a great social place and it’s relaxing too.

11. What was the best day of your life?
I’ve had so many good ones: my wedding day and the day my kids were born. I love new beginnings and landing in Italy to start my adventure of living in Europe was another one.

12. Is there a restaurant that you wish you could have designed?
I would have loved to design Nobu in Malibu, to have that location and client would be great.

13. Favorite vacation spot?
I love Fiji, the people are so nice and you really feel like you are away from it all. I also love to scuba dive so it’s a great place for that.

14. What is the biggest challenge in what you do?
Surviving the recession of 2008 during the past couple years has been really hard. Being self-employed and the stresses of family life and taking care of employees.

15. Favorite books?
I prefer books that are insightful into the psyche like ones that Malcolm Gladwell writes. Right now I really like reading a book called, “All Joy and No Fun” about parenting---my son is 16, and my daughter is 12.  

16. Favorite restaurants in Orange County?
Well since I know them well, I really love Greenleaf and Del Friscos.

17. Biggest accomplishment?
Starting my own business. I was fortunate enough to work for Spago in Beverly Hills and Wolfgang Puck and I could use that as a springboard for launching my own business.

18. Your dream weekend?
I love to go on spontaneous trips like a weekend getaway to Nantucket where you can just go and be unattached to any commitment. It truly is a dream because I haven’t done it in so long.

19. Secret most people don’t know about you?
I speak fluent Spanish. It always surprises people.

20. How would you define your work?
I design social places where people can come together, socialize and I make it a point to be comfortable.

20 Questions with Architect Stephen Francis Jones

November 07, 2014

Sculling on the water before the sun even rises is where Stephen Francis Jones clears his mind and thinks about his next project—designing renowned restaurants and social spaces in Orange County to Kenya and even China. Jones, easily one of the most well-known architects of casual to high-end restaurants in the world, lives in Manhattan Beach with his wife and two children. And, chances are you’ve been to at least one of his creations.

His local restaurant designs include Greenleaf Gourmet Chopshop on East 17th Street and at SOCO in Costa Mesa, Del Frisco’s Grille in Irvine, and Lucky Strike in Orange.

The list of eateries he’s designed is too long to mention, but highlights include Spago In Beverly Hills; MB Post in Manhattan Beach; The Redwood Grille in Santa Monica; Toscanova in Calabasas; Simmzy’s in Long Beach and Manhattan Beach; posh Bui Sushi Bar in Malibu; The Whisper Lounge at The Grove; the Rainbow Junyuan Plaza, a five-level retail in Kunming, China; Java House in Nairobi; an artisan pizza concept (360 Degrees) also in Kenya; rebranding the design for La Brea Bakery, and started work on Greenleaf at Roger’s Garden in Corona Del Mar (his fourth Greenleaf location).

To find out more about Stephen Frances Jones, visit here.


Greer's OC
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Since 1993, Greer has been writing about fashion, dining and trends in Orange County, as a popular columnist for the Los Angeles Time Community Newspapers (Daily Pilot, Coastline Pilot and HB Independent) and now as founder of Greer’s OC.


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