Downsized pasta restaurant provides better chance of survival

When the owners of Pacific Pasta & Grill decided to downsize to survive the pandemic, they also took the opportunity to create a more efficient operation.

“We fixed all the mistakes of the old restaurant,” said co-owner Niki Young.

The restaurant opened Dec. 19 at 603 Goethals Drive in Richland after closing the doors at their previous location at 7911 W. Grandridge Blvd. in Kennewick – their home for 16 years – on Nov. 25.

Young and her mother, co-owner Mary Sue Hui, ticked off the list of improvements they made at the smaller building: A closed kitchen to contain noise and grease. Water-tight walls to prevent leaks and water damage. Better flow in the dining room area through the use of a bar, hostess station and dividing walls. Electrical outlets with USB ports.

Young and Hui said they continued to ask themselves as they did the work: what do we need to do it better?

Then they go to work.

They received the keys to the Goethals Drive property at the end of October and spent the next eight weeks on renovations, which were mostly cosmetic.

Hui manned the Kennewick restaurant, while Young estimated she worked 55 hours a week, six days a week, with assistance from family and friends, to ready it for reopening. They built the bar themselves.

The Goethals Drive building was once home to the co-op grocery Mid-Columbia Market at the Hub, which closed in 2017.

“It was a lot of blood, sweat and tears,” she said. “It became a part of me. The other one a contractor built but this one is personal.”

They knew it needed to be done.

Their Kennewick restaurant was too big and awkwardly laid out. They originally designed the building with an order-counter concept, when it opened as Nothing But Noodles. The name change occurred in 2012.

Hui said the past year’s Covid-19 restrictions meant emptier dining rooms. The smaller, cozier Richland space, with corrugated metal on the walls and shiplap on the ceiling, is more manageable for the team of nine, she said. Hui and Young are the only full-time workers.

“We didn’t have to close. We have less overhead here and a better chance of survival,” she said.

Pacific Pasta & Grill’s menu remains the same. It continues to offer a variety of pastas, salads, burgers, wraps and Asian dishes, catering to health-minded diners with a long list of gluten-free, vegetarian and vegan meal options. There’s also lighter portion options for seniors over 55.

Regulars at the Kennewick restaurant also may be curious about the fate of the fish once swimming in the tank in the Kennewick restaurant’s dining room. Young said the goldfish are comfortable in a larger tank at her home.

Outdoor seating is not available at the Richland restaurant but the owners hope to offer it later in 2021. Young said the restaurant plans to apply for a city of Richland grant to offset the costs. The Richland Commercial Facade Improvement Program offers a $20,000 matching reimbursement for exterior improvements.

Pacific Pasta & Grill offers takeout and delivery through Uber Eats, Grubhub and Tri-Cities Food Dudes. Call 509-578-1054 to place an order or go to restaurantji.com/wa/kennewick/pacific-pasta-and-grill-restaurant-and-catering-/.

The Grandridge Boulevard landlord, Gerald & Spring Covington Living Trust, put its 3,425-square-foot building and 0.56-acre site on the market in March.

It’s listed at $699,000 as either a restaurant or a potential office or retail space. The taxable value is $727,000. Fixtures, furnishings and equipment are not part of the sale.

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