The brand new decade got here out swinging for Thomas and Mariah Pisha-Duffly, co-owners of Gado Gado, the buzzy Indonesian restaurant tucked into the Hollywood District.
They welcomed the start of their daughter, Loretta. They earned their first James Beard Award nomination for Finest New Restaurant just some months after being named Newcomer of the Yr in WW‘s Restaurant Information. March seemed prefer it was going to be Gado Gado’s busiest month up to now.
“After which,” Thomas Pisha-Duffly says, pausing for dramatic impact. “It is like, after which…every little thing modified.”
On the morning of March 15, the Pisha-Dufflys started their day prepping for dinner service as normal. That afternoon, they might see a closure looming on the horizon. By that night, it was clear this is able to be their final day of regular operations.
As information about Gov. Kate Brown’s shutdown order swept throughout the state, small enterprise house owners, just like the Pisha-Dufflys, needed to make selections at warp pace. The unique plan was to stay open in some capability, however Gado Gado’s menu—wealthy, considerate meals meant to be loved on the desk—appeared an ungainly match for the takeout mannequin.
“We knew we needed to preserve making meals,” Thomas Pisha-Duffly says. “I do not know what else to do at a time like that. My go-to is to make meals and attempt to be some form of beacon of normalcy in a time when every little thing form of sucks.”
After a few weeks of planning, the couple determined to briefly reopen the restaurant as Oma’s Takeaway, an homage to Thomas’ grandmother—his “Oma”—Kiong Tien Vandenberg, who died earlier this yr from COVID-19 issues.
As an alternative of making new variations of Gado Gado’s typical fare, Oma’s Takeaway tapped into the cultural urge for food at completely different moments of the pandemic, phasing its menu by every collective craving and spike of tension.
It started with what Thomas Pisha-Duffly calls “stoner meals,” enjoyable takes on basic dishes he might elevate together with his culinary finesse. An early menu merchandise paid tribute to Kentucky Fried Hen’s greased-up Well-known Bowl, however had a bit extra polish by together with Indonesian fried hen, mashed potatoes, creamed corn and a blood sausage gravy with lemongrass and turmeric. It was an prompt hit.
“That was what folks have been on the lookout for,” Pisha-Duffly says. “One thing much less cerebral.”
When the quarantine sluggishness kicked in and patrons had sufficiently gorged themselves on consolation meals, the dishes modified once more, this time to incorporate contemporary, bitey salads with greens sourced from Aspect Yard Farm in Cully.
As eating places reopened below Part 1, the Pisha-Dufflys returned their focus to Gado Gado. The unique restaurant would welcome prospects once more with patio seating, restricted reservations, and 6-feet-apart meals drops. However Oma’s Takeaway felt destined to dwell on as its personal quirky, pandemic-borne enterprise.
When the majority of Andy Ricker’s Pok Pok empire had folded in June and the couple later acquired a proposal to launch contained in the Whiskey Soda Lounge—the house that used to function as a ready room for the flagship—the transfer felt “fortuitous,” says Mariah Pisha-Duffly.
Each Mariah and Thomas Pisha-Duffly labored for Ricker at completely different factors of their careers. Their enterprise associate, Toby Roberts, as soon as served as president for the Thai restaurant group. Taking on the situation can be a chance to strive one thing new, and to rehire lots of the employees who have been laid off from Gado Gado final spring.
In late August, Oma’s Takeaway took up its submit on Southeast Division Avenue, protecting with the grab-and-go mannequin whereas taking full benefit of the open patio. A handful of patrons can now “dine in” at Oma’s below an online of fairy lights and a vivid blue masking.
At the least for now, the menu has settled right into a rhythm that Thomas Pisha-Duffly is proud of. He stored Oma’s corn fritters, an early favourite, and rounded issues out with a pork stomach mee goreng (Indonesian pan-fried noodles), in addition to laksa, a spicy noodle soup that riffs on New England clam chowder, a nod to the couple’s years in Portland, Maine.
The Pisha-Dufflys know the eating expertise at each eating places must change within the coming months, every now vulnerable to the whims of the climate. Mariah Pisha-Duffly has a imaginative and prescient for Oma’s Takeaway during which friends can convey blankets to their reserved tables and sip on creamy, Vietnamese-inspired espresso cocktails inside a heated tent. It could possibly be like coming inside from a snow day as a child and sipping sizzling chocolate.
“Being open air within the winter,” she says, “we need to lean into that and make it a part of the enjoyable.”
For each, Oma’s Takeaway has been a tough gem in a tough yr. And it most likely would not have occurred if not for the general public well being disaster.
“All the pieces’s of venture within the restaurant business, it at all times is,” Thomas Pisha-Duffly says. “Much more now. We wished to guess on ourselves and our employees.”
And to guess on a high-end-cuisine-meets-junk-food Asian-fusion outside pop-up?
“It is very on-brand,” he provides.
UPDATE: Oma’s Takeaway and Gado Gado are shifting to takeout solely through the lockdown, the previous specializing in Malaysian consolation meals and the latter serving related dishes as its most up-to-date lineup, however with extra dinner units for 2 to 4.