Longtime Local Chef Hanis Cavin Leaves San Diego

May 29, 2020

A longtime stalwart in the San Diego culinary community, Carnitas' Snack Shack founder Chef Hanis Cavin has moved away from America's Finest City.

Chef Hanis Cavin is a San Diego native and classically trained chef that earned his culinary degree at the New England Culinary Institute. He founded the Carnitas' Snack Shack brand with the opening of the first restaurant on the outskirts of San Diego's North Park neighborhood in 2011, which became an instant hit with its menu of pork-centric dishes. Along with partners Sweet100, a local private equity firm led by Mike DiNorscia, the team brought a Carnitas' Snack Shack location to San Diego's waterfront Embarcadero in Spring 2016. Snack Shack also expanded to Petco Park in 2017 where it has two locations in left field as of the end of the 2019 season.

In 2018, Cavin teamed up with Chef Willie DePascale and Cohn Restaurant Group founder David Cohn for the opening of The Pioneer, a barbecue-focused bar and restaurant in San Diego's East County. Carnitas' Snack Shack's original North Park restaurant closed in January 2019 and was rebranded into a short-lived concept called The Porchetta Shack. From our understanding, Cavin essentially transferred a majority interest in the Carnitas Snack Shack brand to Sweet100, which also has investment stakes in Broken Yolk Café, Cucina Enoteca, and Burger Lounge, as well as an operational role in the Little Italy Food Hall. The Embarcadero location of Carnitas continue to be operated by Sweet100, albeit without Cavin working directly with the company. Last year, Cavin also teamed up with Brandon Zanavich from North Park's The Friendly and the duo converted the original Carnitas Snack Shack into The Friendly Tavern, a bar & eatery with a menu based around The Friendly's popular Dirty Flat Top burger.

Chef Hanis has moved to Spokane, WA, where he is joining forces with another longtime San Diego chef, Chad White, who left in 2015 not long after his debut on Season 13 of Top Chef. Hanis will be the corporate chef to Chad's growing restaurant collective, which currently includes two locations of High Tide Lobster, Zona Blanca Ceviche, and TTs Old Iron Brewery & Barbecue. Chef Hanis continues to have ownership interests in Carnitas' Snack Shack and The Friendly Tavern.

"I have had an amazing opportunity to help a friend out," commented Chef Hanis Cavin. "Chad has many projects in the works and I am excited to help him here build a restaurant empire in Spokane. I am making Spokane my new home, for how long? Who knows."

Hanis Cavin was a fixture at local charity culinary events, always eager to donate his time for good causes. He will be greatly missed. San Diego is a better city for having him. We hope he returns one day soon.