Partners Katie Doherty and Thad Lyman took over the restaurant Friday.
They’ll keep general manager Jason Winniford on staff. Chef Bryce Lamb is staying for a few weeks to help through the transition, said Doherty.
Doherty and Lyman are partners in life and business — and have a solid background in wine-centric restaurants. They formerly were partners in the Napa Valley Grille, a Yountville restaurant that features cuisine inspired by various wine countries throughout the world. They were partners in that restaurant from 2003 until January this year when they moved here to purchase Brix 25.
Both Doherty and Lyman grew up in the Northwest and started their careers in Tacoma.
He works the kitchen, she manages the front of the house. A look at their resumes:
Lyman: He grew up in Alaska and graduated from the University of Alaska culinary arts program. About 13 years ago, he came to work at Stanley & Seafort’s in Tacoma for about a year before moving to to another restaurant owned by Restaurants Unlimited , which owns Stanley and Seafort’s. He next worked at Horatio’s and Skates on the Bay – both Bay area restaurants owned by Restaurants Unlimited. Next, he worked for the Nordstrom corporation, opening restaurants for the Seattle-based company. His next stop was Restaurant Viognier in San Mateo. In 2003, he joined the Napa Valley Grille.
Doherty: She grew up in the Gig Harbor and Tacoma area. Doherty also started her career at Stanley and Seafort’s in management – that’s where she and Lyman met. When Lyman transferred to the Bay Area, she went with him and started working for Constellation Concepts, which at the time operated California Cafe restaurants. Next, she worked for Blackhawk Grille before she and Lyman went to Napa Valley Grille.
The duo don’t intend to change much about Brix 25, a restaurant that has won wine awards for its Northwest-centric wine and food. Doherty said they are keeping core menu items the same, to the delight of regular diners who have been requesting they do so. Also, the name stays put. “We’re keeping the name – it has a great reputation,” said Doherty. “We don’t want to turn it upside down,” said Doherty. Rather, they’ll make small changes and shifts as they see necessary, but their plan is to continue the theme of wine-food pairing that always has been the core concept at Brix 25.
So why Gig Harbor? Both Northwest area natives, their intention was to come back here, but to find someplace that felt homey, where they could raise their 16-month-old daughter. But they wanted someplace that had a Napa feel to it. “As cosmopolitan as people think it is, Napa is just a small town,” she said. Gig Harbor has the same attributes, she said.
At Napa Valley Grille, the couple championed locally sourced cuisine and categorized their restaurant concept as “field to fork” – serving as much fresh food as they could from local farms. Doherty said the couple intend to locally source as many ingredients as they can for Brix 25 and they’ve already made contact with local farmers and cheesemakers.
Doherty told me an interesting story from their Napa restaurant about Lyman not being able to convince a pair of picky produce farmers to supply the Napa Valley Grille with fresh greens. The finicky farmers weren’t convinced the restaurant “deserved” their quality greens. Doherty said Lyman loaded up the entire kitchen crew and drove directly to the farm to convince the reluctant farmers the staff was committed to serving the freshest ingredients. The farmers decided to go ahead and sell the greens to Lyman.
Where: 7707 Pioneer Way, Gig Harbor
Hours: Dinner served daily 4:30 p.m. to close
Insider tip: Half price wine bottles on Wednesdays. The savings extends to all 250 bottles the restaurant has on its menu.