Today we’d like to introduce you to Davin and Jessica Waite.
Davin and Jessica, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
Davin has been a chef for almost 20 years. We met 6 years ago when he was leaving his last restaurant, and we had the opportunity to start Wrench & Rodent, which is a sushi and seafood concept. We opened Wrench in summer 2013, and have experienced organic growth ever since.
We both have strong beliefs in minimizing waste and respecting the whole plant and animal, and our menu features dishes that are somewhat traditional as well as those that highlight sustainability practices. Davin is known for his creativity as a chef, and we run a large daily specials menu that features locally sourced products. I believe wholeheartedly in this movement and do my best to support it through promotion and community engagement.
Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
The restaurant business is not for the faint of heart. Even though our two restaurants are successful at this point there are still struggles. We are adamant about not compromising when it comes to the quality of the product we source, and this can lead to higher costs.
It can be a bit more expensive to buy locally and from small vendors, but there are so many benefits, not the least of which is taste. There is also something beautiful about knowing the families that grow your veggies, and the people who bring in your fish.
There are always going to be the people that tell you, “you could make so much more money if you buy this, instead of that,” but that’s not even something we are willing to entertain.
Alright – so let’s talk business. Tell us about Wrench & Rodent Seabasstropub, The Whet Noodle – what should we know?
The Wrench & Rodent team strives to provide a unique dining experience that is casual and accessible while also exciting and constantly evolving. We take pride in offering locally and responsibly sourced ingredients, and special care is taken to minimize waste. We offer a variety of options ranging from rolls and nigiri to elaborate sashimi plates and an unconventional Omakase. Our vegetables are given the same respect we show to fish, and we are very vegan-friendly.
We like to think of the Whet Noodle as a West Coast Izakaya. Davin’s take on ramen is analogous to his unorthodox interpretation of sushi. The rest of the menu, some of which changes daily, offers affordable, Japanese inspired and locally sourced sharable plates and entrees. Our house-made broths are lighter and healthier than most and include a fish tonkotsu that is made from bones and trimmings from Wrench & Rodent.
– Wrench is known for the omakase that is mentioned above, and for using the whole fish and plant. The concept is pretty chef-centric, as Davin has a reputation of being a bit of a mad scientist and has quite a following, but all of our chefs are highly skilled and creative in their own right, and each has their own following at this point. Diners can come to Wrench to enjoy a couple of rolls and a beer or can make a reservation to sit at the sushi bar and experience a 15-20 course omakase that will be a full-on dining experience.
– The Whet Noodle was created when space next to Wrench became available. We wanted to do something that would be a quick-casual, counter service compliment Wrench & Rodent. The Whet Noodle also gives us the opportunity to utilize some of the biproduct and offcuts coming from Wrench; for example, we buy whole fish at Wrench and use the bones to make broth at the Whet Noodle. The Noodle menu is created using the same local products that Wrench is, and we have a great team of chefs that create fun daily specials.
I love The Whet Noodle because it offers great quality food in a more casual setting, and those that are in a hurry can get in and out fairly quickly. The Wrench & Rodent / Whet Noodle combo offers something for everyone.
Is there a characteristic or quality that you feel is essential to success?
Davin and I are pretty driven and passionate. Because we are a husband/wife team I think it is important that both of us are equally invested in our work, and we really are. Davin is incredibly driven. He will be in the kitchen at 8am and sometimes doesn’t leave until midnight, and he is constantly creating. I am so passionate about our mission of sharing locally sourced and responsible food with our community, and this keeps me motivated and makes it easy to keep up the momentum.
We both work pretty hard, but understand the importance of staying inspired; we travel as much as we can and try to stay engaged in the local food community. I think passion and curiosity are two qualities that are pretty important. We need the passion to move us forward through the rough times, and the curiosity to keep us pushing boundaries and trying new things.