EAST WENATCHEE — Secret’s out. Lulu’s Kitchen is open.
Richard and Ashley Kitos’ much-anticipated new restaurant cranked up the grill Thursday night for a soft opening stretched over three evenings, and the place was packed. Heck, they hadn’t put up their sign yet.
Even better, Lulu’s opens at 11 a.m. today (Monday) for lunch and dinner seven days a week in their stylishly-designed space (with adjacent velvet-paneled bar) at 595 E. Grant Road, Suite 6, in East Wenatchee. More specifically, it’s in Eastpoint Plaza at the corner of Grant Road and Eastmont Avenue. Glaze, the doughnut shop, is at one end and Lulu’s is at the other. Phone 888-9690.
Yes, you cynics, it’s a trendy new restaurant in East Wenatchee. We ask you to hold your snarky comments until a huge plate of Lulu’s Mediterranean-style charbroiled chicken and vegetables is set in front of you. Or the inch-high slab of grilled cod. Or the perfectly char-grilled cheeseburger on homemade bun with spicy mayo. One or two bites, and you’ll be thinking East Wenatchee is the new foodie mecca.
“This is a longtime dream,” said Richard, 53, whipping up an order of sesame-and-garlic-glazed chicken wings behind the counter of the exhibition kitchen, where lots of whisking and searing is on display. He’s been cooking since his first kitchen job in Los Angeles when he was 15 years old. “Our own restaurant in our own space serving our own kind of menu — it’s exciting.”
Lulu’s has an industrial-chic decor that’s also kind of homey and comfortable. Concrete floor, lots of wood, chrome light fixtures and loads of art, including an abstract mural of a Columbia River bridge and a haunting, wall-sized image of Vermeer’s painting “Girl with a Pearl Earring.”
The new restaurant is named for the Kitoses’ oldest daughter, Lulu, age 10. Still on the mental drawing board, says Ashley, are restaurants named for their other two daughters — a pizza joint named after Nico, 6, and a Mediterranean eatery named for Quinn, 4.
Richard says he has a “heartland” style of cooking — fresh meats and fish, lots of healthy vegetables, all charbroiled over an open flame, with hints of various cuisines such as Cuban, Asian, Mediterranean and good ol’ American. It all depends on what ingredients are available daily and the chef’s mood. “We try to let the food speak for itself,” he said.
And the bar? Ashley says she imagined a cozy room where a soccer mom would feel comfortable sipping a glass of Chadonnay after ordering her family’s dinner to go. (Whole chicken and two family-sized side dishes: $17.50.) “We want it to be tasteful, comfortable, accessible,” said Ashley. “With friendly bartenders and good drinks. A neighborhood place.”
Just so you know, Richard wears the chef hat while Ashley is the behind-the-scenes brains of the business. She sharpened her management skills in TV and movie production.
“Now I’m CEO, CFO, COO and all the rest,” jokes Ashley. “I think of it this way: Richard’s the chef, and I’m the boss. No, not really. Well, yes, really.”