Bart Bruno, Monterey Bay Boatworks
When the Monterey sardine fishery collapsed in the 1940s, a 7-year-old Bart Bruno moved with his family to Pittsburg, California. His father and two uncles were Sicilian fishermen who ran sardine boats in Monterey, but when sardines ran dry they sought livelihoods elsewhere.
Bruno, now approaching 80, is an engineer, entrepreneur and property developer. He’s also co-owner of the Breakwater Cove Marina, the fuel dock, and the Monterey Bay Boatworks, a full-service boatyard in the heart of Monterey. Of all his business endeavors, his waterfront businesses that support local commercial fishermen are his favorite.
“My kids say, ‘Dad, sell everything, just don’t sell the boatworks,” Bruno says with a chuckle in an office overlooking the marina. “I love this place.”
Bruno’s first job was working at a fuel dock and marina that his grandfather owned in Pittsburg, a waterfront city where the Sacramento River meets the San Francisco Bay. From there he went on to study civil engineering at the University of California, Berkeley.
In 1977, Bruno returned to Monterey for a one-year job building a sewer line on the peninsula, but decided to stay permanently and founded the company Monterey Peninsula Engineering three years later. Then in the mid-1980s his friend Mike Maiorana approached him about partnering in the development of a boatyard and marina. Bruno was in and together the two opened the Monterey Bay Boatworks in 1987.
“There was a definite need of a boatyard in Monterey when we opened,” Bruno says. “The local boatyard had closed a few years before and fishermen were in need of a place to maintain their boats.”
Today, Monterey Bay Boatworks has an 82-ton travelift that can haul all but the biggest fishing boats out of the water. Two recent projects of note were the lengthening of the wetfish seiner the El Dorado by 20 feet and the overhaul of the historic wooden seiner the San Giovanni.
In the three decades Bruno has owned the boatyard with Maiorana he’s seen a lot change in Monterey fisheries, but he’s still optimistic about the future and sees the local fishing economy rebounding and moving in the right direction.
“There was a downturn in commercial fishing business, but it is coming back,” he says, based on business he’s seeing at his fuel dock, marina and boatyard.