February 9, 2012
Say what you want about Rich Pepe, the Carmel restaurant magnate behind Little Napoli (626-PEPE), Vino Napoli Wine Bar (626-7373), Peppoli (647-7433), Vesuvio (626-7373), Carmel Bakery (626-7373) and other seemingly endless epicurean undertakings, including the Pepe & Pants pasta sauces he does with old Jersey classmate and pal Joey Pantoliano (Sopranos, The Matrix).
Plenty of people do, especially now that he's running for mayor of Carmel, where he just moved to be eligible (his businesses have operated there for decades).
By announcing things like the fact that he'll self-fund—in part because he feels "weird" asking for money, in part because he says he needs the time to spend more time learning the issues—and that he might have to "go Jersey" on opponent/golden boy Jason Burnett, he gives 'em plenty more to talk about.
Now a promotional trailer pimping a reality show "Peace of Cake" offers still more. It wasn't intended for public consumption, Pepe says, but as a dramatized pitch for production houses in which he was asked to recite certain lines. Whatever the case, I think it's irresistible, must-see "reality" (click below).
In it he tells an offending police officer something to the effect just wait till I'm mayor and calls his foxy P.R. chief Katana Godden-Alexander of K & Co. Media P.R. (559-341-7791) a "gumar," Italian for "mistress."
So as everyone weighs in, here's what I'll say: From my interactions on the food beat, he's been open, accessible, responsive and seems to pull no punches (speaking of punches, I've seen him get in the ring, in his 60s, with a pro fighter half his age as part of a charity benefit).
He says what he's thinking, even when he's asking Carmel City Council if fellow Carmel hospitality mogul David Fink is getting special treatment in putting in a controversial new burger joint.
"Does Fink have to stop at all the stop signs in Carmel?" he asked.
But I have a feeling Pepe's approach and his past might be a better fit for reality T.V. than politics-as-usual-by-the-Sea. Maybe it's a fear.
Either way, dude is damn entertaining, and—mark my words—this story promises to get good. As they say in television, stay tuned.