Longtime Stick + Stone manager buys restaurant
The founders of Richland’s Stick + Stone Neopolitan Wood-Fired Pizza have sold the business to the employee who has managed it almost from the start.
Talon Yager bought the business from Mike Miller and his partners for $325,000 and signed a 10-year lease to keep the Italian-oriented restaurant in its spot at 3027 Duportail St., in the Queensgate Drive area.
The deal closed in early December.
Yager was part of the crew that opened Stick + Stone in January 2016. Within six months, he was managing the restaurant and working long hours to build the business, developing signature pizza recipes and other menu items.
He began discussing buying the restaurant from Miller and his team last summer when they were ready to exit the investment. Yager said delays in permitting slowed the deal, but he secured a license to serve beer and wine in November.
Miller had opened two new businesses in Kennewick – Proof Gastropub and PowerUp Bar Arcade – that were taking his time away from his original restaurant.
For Yager, buying Stick + Stone fulfills a childhood dream. He grew up in an Othello family of restaurateurs, dreaming of becoming a cook.
“This is something I’ve wanted to do since I was 6 years old,” he said.
His parents owned the Burger Factory in Othello until it closed in the late 1990s. His grandparents owned the Burger Factory II in Connell until selling it to Rhonda and Mike Erstad in 2012.
Yager, 30, watched his father work 60- to 80-hour weeks.
He would leave for work early in the morning, then come home to take the children to school. He’d return to the restaurant after the drop-off.
Yager would join his dad at the restaurant after school while his mother attended college, doing his homework and working in the business until it was time to go home.
“I didn’t do homework at my house until I was 8 or 9,” he said.
Running a restaurant was hard work. For Yager, cooking was the most appealing aspect of the family business. He worked in the kitchen and loved preparing food.
As a child, he informed his parents he wanted to be a chef. As a young adult, he opted to learn the business on the job.
Before joining Stick + Stone, he worked at Fat Olives in Richland, Magill’s Restaurant in Pasco and elsewhere. Along the way, he found a mentor who drilled him on the finer points of preparation and plating meals in restaurant settings.
“I’ve been working toward that. That’s what interested me the most, the food,” he said.
Yager has no immediate plans to alter Stick + Stone, noting that he developed the menu and created the team of about 30 so his fingerprints are already on the business.
He does want to see it evolve into an Italian restaurant rather than a pizza joint.
Besides the Neapolitan-style pizzas, it serves pasta, salads, sandwiches and other items.
Yager’s top priority is to pay off the restaurant.
In the longer run, he envisions opening more restaurants, possibly under the Stick + Stone name.
“The goal is to have more than one restaurant,” he said.
Regular business hours are 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Follow Stick + Stone on Facebook @stickandstonepizza.
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