By Veronica Sandate Craker
Patrons who frequented Nothing But Noodles off of Grandridge Boulevard in Kennewick may have noticed a big change to their favorite eatery.
In the past month the restaurant, once known for serving Italian and Asian dishes, is now also cranking out hamburgers, wraps, steak skewers and much more under its new name Pacific Pasta & Grill.
“It was a business decision,” said Mary Sue Hui, co-owner said. “You know this is a big restaurant and you need to fill your seats —you have to grow. It’s just time for us to go out on our own.”
Since the restaurant first opened in March of 2005, Hui said they’ve slowly been making changes to their menu.
“My daughter Niki had been coming up with new recipes, so everything that’s new on the menu has been her creation,” Hui said.
Some of the changes include adding more proteins and giving patrons the ability to mix and match the dishes and sides they want.
“It use to be that you had this bowl of pasta, with sauce and some kind of mixed vegetables and that’s what you got,” Niki Fisher said. “And now we’ve kind of changed it up, made it more of a choice meal — so there is still those pasta a la cart (items) where you can add things to it.”
Before dropping the franchise, Hui said she often got surprised reactions from customers who didn’t realize they offered various dishes.
“After seven years you get a lot of new customers say ‘oh wow, this is the first time I’ve been in — we didn’t realize you have salads and steak skewers and shrimp skewers all kind of stuff’,” Hui said. “Still to this day we have people say they can’t get their husbands to come in because we didn’t offer a burger or a steak.”
And that was the problem Fisher and Hui saw when trying to expand their business. After separating themselves from the Nothing But Noodles franchise, they picked a new name making sure to include the world ‘grill.’
“When you throw Grill into the name of a restaurant it just opens up a lot of opportunities,” Fisher said. “If you’re a restaurant like Applebee’s or a Red Robin you can do almost anything because of the name.”
But a name like, ‘Nothing But Noodles’ inhibits what you can sell, she said.
Since the switch, the business has seen in increase in traffic. They also quickly added hamburgers to their menu, which became their second biggest seller.
“Our fettuccini Alfredo is always going to be our number one seller, but our burgers are number two and that tells me that people are coming in wanting something more than just noodles,” Fisher said.
Fisher said they purchase their meat locally and make their sauces each morning from scratch.
“We are using some really good meat, we buy local for all of our meat products here. We carve up all our own meat, chicken and our steak – we get that all locally from a family-owned company,” Fisher said.
And there’s even options for the non-meat eaters.
“We have dishes for vegan, vegetarian, gluten free — just about anything that you can think of we can probably accommodate with out menu,” Hui said. “There’s something for everybody here.”
Those with dietary restrictions can find a number of gluten and dairy-free options.
“Where else can you get macaroni and cheese that’s gluten free or fettuccini that’s gluten free — not a lot of places,” Fisher said.
Despite changing things up they have managed to keep all of their old employees and keep prices the same. The restaurant’s catering business has also increased since the change, Hui said.
Hui said this year they will cater three times as many weddings as last year.
“It’s growing all the time as people hear about us and they like our food,” she said.
Hui said she hopes to be able to hire more employees in the coming months to help with the busy catering business.
“We want to continue to be people’s favorite restaurant and that they feel comfortable going here and bringing their kids here or a date here.”
Pacific Pasta & Grill is at 7911 W. Grandridge Blvd., in Kennewick. The restaurant is open from 11 a.m. – 9 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and 11 a.m. – 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday. The phone number is 783-7847.