Les Barnes’ passions fall in equal parts aquaculture and hospitality. As a child, he spent many early mornings at New York’s original Fulton Fish Market learning the art of fish buying from his father, and passionately honed those skills over the next fifty years. “My father learned the ropes fishing the North Sea and getting his start opening Fish & Chips joints in London. He would wake me up at 3:00 am, and we’d go off to the fish market to source standout fish—the type that jump out and say, ‘Buy me,’” says Barnes. By the age of twelve, Barnes knew all the fundamentals of buying and preparing fish, and with that knowledge, began working at his family’s restaurant, London Lennie’s in Queens NY. There he went on to learn about hospitality as he worked every station in the restaurant.
In time, Barnes developed friendships with the best fishmongers and oystermen in the Northeast, helping to forge the restaurant’s reputation as a premium seafood establishment with supremely fresh fish and honest pricing. A skilled aquaculture buff, he learned to tell a fresh fish from a day old one by merely looking at it. Barnes graduated from Florida International University in Miami, FL with a degree in Hospitality Management in 1977. Just days after graduation, Barnes drove up to New York to take over the family business. “There can only be one captain of this ship,” he exclaimed, a saying his father was fond of using with him. Barnes was given the keys to London Lennie’s, and as the reins were handed over, Barnes promised his father to continue the legacy of sourcing the highest quality seafood and contributes his success to this steadfast devotion to excellence.