For Wendy Thomas, food and community are inextricably interwoven.
“It’s as much about serving and feeding the community as it is about providing a common space,” said the owner of Wild Island Restaurant and Juice Bar in Eastsound. “Even though many folks call in their order, from time to time others choose to come in for the ‘downtime,’ for the feeling of community,” she explains.
Since assuming ownership of the restaurant on Labor Day of 2018, Thomas has been serving locals and visitors alike healthy portions of both — healthful food and wholesome community.
Her staff of 10 full and part-time employees take pride in preparing everything from scratch, “all organic all the time,” she offered.
Thomas sources just about everything locally (“we go through about two dozen chickens a week”) and is more than ready to meet a customer’s special dietary needs.
“We had a busy tourist season this year and took care of a lot of happy people. I had a lot of fun engaging with customers, tailoring the menu to their needs.
“I feel like if you have special dietary needs, this is the place.”
Thomas loves the idea of making fast, healthy food, “using simple ingredients that pack a lot of flavor.” She also believes in the importance of aesthetics and takes great pride in presenting wholesome food that looks appealing.
“When food is presented well and is pleasing to look at,” she explains, “the effect is incredibly positive on so many levels.”
The former owner of Eastsound’s Chez Chloe (named after her daughter), Thomas’s decision a year ago to take over the restaurant from its previous owner was a choice that had to be made quickly.
“We decided to keep the name and redirect the business a bit,” she offers, adding that they inherited “so many good things” from the previous owner. During the past year, Thomas has remodeled the interior and, recently, painted the building’s exterior.
“Well, two out of the four sides are painted,” she laughs. “We’ll get to the rest eventually!”
Thomas says the community can expect more changes. They’d like to make good use of the space in front of the restaurant, a change that could include a stage for outdoor events.
She says she’s happy with the way things have turned out though wasn’t sure if taking over a restaurant at 50 was a good idea.
“I wasn’t sure I could work this hard again,” she admits. “But this year has given me the opportunity to validate my skills, ideas and visions. When the opportunity (to purchase the restaurant) arose, I realized I wasn’t done yet.
“Now, I have an opportunity to leave a legacy.”
Wild Island is open from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday. Check out the menu and learn of upcoming events (and occasional closings) at www.wildislandrestaurant.com or call 360-298-3404.