Second Foodies restaurant coming to Richland’s Parkway
The Wilson family has expanded from a single floating food counter aboard a pontoon on the Columbia River to three full-service restaurants in Kennewick and Richland.
Their third restaurant, called Foodies too, is expected to open before Christmas in Richland’s The Parkway, occupying the space once home to Paper Street Brewing Co.
Terry and Joanna Wilson are remodeling the space at 701A The Parkway, on the northwest corner of Lee Boulevard, near the roundabout. They’re planning to offer the same menu found at Foodies Brick and Mortar in downtown Kennewick, which has become popular for its American cuisine, featuring burgers, gourmet hot dogs and sandwiches.
“Our menu isn’t eclectic. It’s just our flavors added into a Caesar or a taco salad,” Joanna said. “We do our sandwiches a certain way, and the way we wanted to do it works. We found people liked it.”
The menu is designed entirely by the Wilsons, who enjoy trying out new trends.
“We have a lot of Pinterest boards. Everywhere we go, we’re always looking at design, looking at textures,” Joanna said.
Joanna has been in the restaurant business since she was 18 years old, while Terry has a history in the construction business.
They once owned a delicatessen and meat market in California for a couple of years before closing the doors to focus on their growing family.
They got the bug to open a restaurant again once the kids were older and decided to incorporate their love of boating with their love of the food industry.
This led to their first Tri-City venture, Floatin’ Foodies, which included commercial-grade equipment aboard a converted triple pontoon that traveled the river to serve customers already on the water.
“We would float and cook at the same time. And that got a little crazy,” Joanna said.
After a few years of trial-and-error, they docked the boat and had customers come to them. “We tripled our money and spent no gas money,” she said.
Despite eventually finding the recipe for success on a floating food cart, the Wilsons determined it wasn’t a long-term enterprise.
“When you have a mobile kitchen, you have to have a commissary kitchen,” Joanna said. “So we were making deals every year talking to people that had restaurants and facilities approved by the health department that we could get in to make sauces and food prep.”
The pontoon was put out to pasture, quite literally, on the family’s Kennewick property.
They decided to focus on finding a space to support the boat and grow a catering business.
“But when we did that, all of a sudden it started developing into more of a restaurant,” Joanna said. “Within a year, we knew that something was happening, and we knew that it was the dynamics of the community support and being able to provide a different experience. Not a chain experience and not a mom-and-pop experience, we were trying to be kind of middle of the road. It opened up a lot of opportunities for people to come in and try things that they’ve never tasted before.”
Foodies Brick and Mortar opened in 2015 at 308 W. Kennewick Ave., and two years later, the couple opened 4th Base Pizza at 20 S. Auburn St.
Even with two relatively new businesses to operate, Joanna said she always had her heart set on the space at 701A The Parkway.
“When we found out Paper Street was moving in here, when we were moving into downtown Kennewick, I told my husband, ‘If it ever opens up, I want it.’ I loved just the dynamic of being downtown. Where are you going to find another downtown unless you go to Walla Walla?”
The Wilsons happened to be out of town when they learned the brewery was shuttering its doors, but moved quickly to secure it and sign a lease for their third restaurant.
“We’d made phone calls before we even got home,” Joanna said.
The new Foodies will be about the same size as the Kennewick location, but the Wilsons are planning to offer a private room at the Parkway site. The Kennewick Foodies will add to its seasonal seating in the future, with a so-called StrEatery, which transforms a couple of parking spaces into a deck for diners to eat outside.
The Richland restaurant is 1,900 square feet and can seat up to 75, but the remodel of the space is fluid in its initial stages.
Construction is expected to take 60 to 90 days, which would have Foodies too opening sometime around Thanksgiving.
The Wilsons want to include more of a defined 21-and-over seating area, as well as a “peekaboo” kitchen for customers to see the meals being prepared.
A mix of 15 employees will be hired, likely four full time and 11 part time.
The Wilsons are considering offering a late-night menu for those looking for a meal, and not just drinks, during the later evening hours after getting off the river or attending a show at the nearby Richland Players Theater.
Foodies too will be open for lunch and dinner and closed only on Sundays.
The Wilsons are finding continued success despite an often challenging local food scene that sees the opening and closing of locally-owned restaurants frequently.
“The Tri-Cities is rough,” said Joanna. “We’re rough on people. They’ll give us maybe two tries and that’s it. But they’ll go to the chains because it’s standard. There’s more expectations for us than any chain.”
The couple have benefited from word-of-mouth marketing and social media instead of traditional marketing to grow their loyal fan base in Kennewick.
“Creating more of that buzz downtown has been direct from the stores around us that have been a huge support,” Joanna said.
Now they hope to bring that same buzz to Richland where popular restaurants like Graze, Frost Me Sweet, Porter’s Real Barbecue and Stone Soup are all within a tenth-of-a-mile strip between Knight Street and Lee Boulevard. Miss Tamale recently joined this restaurant row. It opened a few doors down on Sept. 15.
Former Richland Economic Development Manager Zach Ratkai called The Parkway “an institution since its inception.”
He said he is encouraged at how The Parkway has transitioned to meet the needs of a free market, developing now into a focal point for an urban lifestyle.
“It attracts a young, entrepreneurial spirit that really shows The Parkway is a great organic spot to grow. It’s a shift we’re glad to be at the epicenter of,” said Ratkai during his last week working for the city of Richland. He left his post to work for the city of Pasco.
David Lippes, principal of Boost Builds, said he likes to see food retailers showing an interest in the area. His Richland development company has an ambitious goal of bringing city-dwellers back to the central downtown area. Boost Builds bought and drastically updated the building at 723 The Parkway, also home to Fuse SPC, a co-working community, earlier this year.
“We are excited about the demand that retail, and especially food retailers, have shown for locating in and around The Parkway. This is clearly an indication of growing consumer demand driven by the revitalization of Richland’s downtown core,” Lippes said.
The Wilsons are excited about the new venture, too.
“What’s fun is that we get to design and create the atmosphere that we want to be in. I think that’s pretty much between 4th Base, Foodies Brick and Mortar, and now Foodies too, is that we’re able to design somewhere that we would want to go, and that makes it more pleasant for us. We’re hoping people like to eat where we like to eat,” Joanna said.
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