Owners: Azizi Tookas and Chris Sunde
Why Bellingham? Chris: “There’s great people, activities, businesses and close to the outdoors. I asked ‘what did I want in my town?’, which was quality food you can trust in a casual atmosphere.” Azizi: “What we do works really well in Bellingham. We designed the restaurant around the style of Bellingham, with a good family atmosphere supported by the community.”
What is your favorite shop downtown? Why? Chris: “Mallard’s. Fantastic ice cream!” Azizi: “My wife loves to go to the Downtown Emporium, so we stop in there every time we’re passing by.”
It all started with tomatoes. Back in 2005, Chris and Azizi began selling their homegrown heirloom tomatoes at the Bellingham Farmers Market and built a loyal customer base right from the start; one couple even coined them the “mater guys.” Brandywine Gardens sold to both community residents and local restaurants in support of their seed to plate motto.
While Chris managed Fiamma Pizza and Azizi supervised Old Town Café, they looked toward starting up their own place. In 2008, after three years of working the market, the opportunity arrived. Brandywine Kitchen opened with a mission to bring the same farm to table culinary choices that they prided their produce business on.
“The Farmers Market was pretty huge for a start,” Azizi said. "The initial following we got helped with our name recognition and customer base.”
With their combined years of restaurant experience, they have adapted and refined several original menu items from the market into a successful business. Sandwiches are their specialty and many often include Brandywine Garden tomatoes in season.
The original 1,000 square foot plot has now downsized to a modest 300 square foot greenhouse in Azizi’s backyard, but they still make time for tending their garden while running the kitchen. Other nearby farms such as Terra Verde and Cloud Mountain, both in Everson, help supplement their produce provisions.
Local sourcing is imperative to Chris and Azizi’s business values, as they believe it makes for both a superior product and sustainable economy for the surrounding community.
“I love being able to make the choices to support the things I want to support,” Chris said. “It’s hard work, but we’ve got awesome staff.”
Chris and Azizi have been working to incorporate more family-friendly options with an updated kid’s menu. They aim to make Brandywine a destination that can cater to both the young college crowd and families with children as a casual trusted establishment that “doesn’t have to break the bank,” Chris said.
In a town like Bellingham that thrives on sustaining personal ties between the community and businesses, Chris and Azizi spoke with pride and ease about running a restaurant like Brandywine.
“It’s been a great ride,” Chris said. “And we’re still riding!” Azizi concurred.
Brandywine Kitchen is a proud sponsor of this year’s Downtown Sounds series, and we’re grateful for their support!
Stop in at 1317 Commercial Street for fresh sandwiches and other great eats.
Today's post was written by Marketing Intern Ashley Conradi.