GQ: So you sold your modest Beverly Hills home and now you live on a boat!
BS: Yeah, I had to get out of California. I didn’t like it there, it was too expensive and the whole state stinks. And in the process of moving out, and being on the road, I thought “what if I took an RV and made it so it could float,” and that’s where me and my family live now.
Like a house boat?
How dare you. I saw a house boat once, and it was disgusting. This is so different. We figured out a way to incinerate all our waste, so we’re not dumping it into the ocean or a waste facility back on land. It just kind of disappears in a flash of light, no smell or anything. Super clean and sterile. It’s like what would happen on a spaceship. Ooh, a spaceship.
I’m sorry, I didn’t mean–
Guess where that houseboat I saw was docked. That’s right, California.
You mentioned your family, so let’s talk about that. You’ve been married now for eight years.
Yeah! And it’s been a dream. No fights, no egos, all smooth sailing. No pun intended. Look, I can be honest about myself, I didn’t have a history of solid relationships before. I mean, I was in some long term relationships, and they were solid, but I wasn’t confident in myself. And so I was often performing for my partner rather than being my true self or expressing what I wanted, which led to breakups that I am not proud of.
It certainly sounds like you’ve made progress though.
That’s the great thing about therapy. You go in, they ask you a couple questions, you tell them your life story, they tell you how to think from then on, and you do. It’s so simple and straightforward, and it worked immediately for me.
Can you tell us how you two met?
After Parks and Recreation was cancelled following its disastrous first season, Rashida [Jones] and I both auditioned for the next Mike Schur project.
The Good Place?
I haven’t heard of that.
Which one, then?
Hoops, the third one in his mockumentary trilogy. First it was The Office with a paper company, then Parks and Recreation with a city government, and finally Hoops, the one about a semi-professional basketball team. I was up for the point guard, Rashida was for one of the assistant coaches. Pretty progressive for the time! Well, maybe. Nobody picked up the pilot.
Anyway, we really hit it off. We bonded over watching compilations of each others’ blooper reels and drinking palomas.
How did you propose?
Look, I have never been into these grand displays of affection and putting someone into the spotlight. So I didn’t want it to be a big thing, like a scavenger hunt leading up to me popping the question or something. Going back to therapy for a bit, I know now that this was me putting my wants and needs onto someone else, and not thinking about what she would actually want. You learn a lot in therapy.
Anyway, so I downloaded some clips from I Love You Man off of YouTube and put my face on Paul Rudd’s body in all the scenes where he proposes to her and talks about marriage and stuff. It was actually a lot harder than it looks! There’s no easy way to do that in iMovie.
So where is Rashida now?
And where are your kids?
This really expensive daycare back on shore. I mean, you can agree, this boat is incredibly safe and a fine place to raise a family. But it’s a little isolating and we want the kids to grow up socially well-rounded. We all have so much fun when everyone comes home in the afternoon. We play catch on the top deck, try to break speed records on the water slide, I even let them have a little screen time, why not. They’re still young of course, but I can already tell that when they start bringing their friends over, their friends are going to think I’m cool.
You know what, I just realized. The show was called Hoops because it was about basketball, yes, but also about the metaphorical hoops we all jump through to get what we want.
Getting back to that, you haven’t appeared in television or movies since around then. You switched careers entirely.
That’s right! It’s somewhat cliche for an actor to open a restaurant and slap their name on it, but I wanted to do more. I wanted to actually cook the food, and design the whole experience. Lay out the dining area, make decisions about tableware, and live in the heat of the kitchen.
How did you come up with the concept?
Who doesn’t love sliders? I love sliders. Everyone loves sliders. So initially it was just going to be a straightforward tiny-burger joint, very brutalist, exposed duct work like at Chipotle. But I wanted to be better than Wahlburgers. I wanted to focus on sustainability, and be responsible in my choice of ingredients. So I waited for someone to invent these vegan alternatives we use now that are indistinguishable from the traditional beef and cheese. It’s humane, it doesn’t contribute to the massive resource hog that factory farming is, and we can recycle all the packaging.
Right, you were at the front of the plant-based movement.
Is that what everything is made of? They never told me. I guess it would have to be, what else is there.
Bit Burger is the fastest growing restaurant franchise in history.
Here’s a fun fact, I got the name from this German beer I used to drink a lot in my early 20s. But it’s a different market, so they were cool with it. If we ever find a quick and easy way to get liquor licenses, I’ve committed to having Bitburger on tap at every location.
And speaking of that – quick and easy licenses – that’s the secret to our success. I’m happy to talk about it, let other companies copy it. There’s nothing to these restaurants, they have wildly low startup costs so it’s really easy to become a franchisee. I took a lot of lessons learned from my boat and applied them to the restaurants. We use the same toilets there, you know, just vaporizing everything that goes into the bowl, so you don’t have to hook into city plumbing and sewer systems. You just lay down a concrete slab and drop a prefab shipping container restaurant on there. Everything is cooked on those electric griddles you can get in an end cap at Bed Bath and Beyond. Ingredients are delivered fresh daily and kept in little dorm room cube fridges and coolers, no need for deep freezers. All powered by the solar panels on the roof, of course. Completely self-sustainable and off the grid.
Wait, there’s no plumbing at any of these restaurants? What about hand washing?
That’s what hand sanitizer is for! And we recycle the plastic dispensers when they’re empty, of course.
The restaurant business is notoriously stressful and yet you seem relaxed most if not all of the time. How do you wind down after a busy day?
Smoke weed, doy! (covers the audio recorder with his hand) That’s the word they still use, right?
(removes hand from audio recorder and speaks directly into it) And I’m very good at it!