Back in January, owner Julie Andres quietly put her beloved Columbia City restaurant up for sale. And when word got out this summer, teeth were gnashed. Last meals were had. And just about anyone who has spent an evening lingering here over perciatelle con le sarde and a bottle of Sicilian wine worried that La Medusa might go away.
But Gordon Wishard and Meredith Molli say that’s not happening. Wishard, the chef, says Julie Andres had hoped he would take over the restaurant, just as she did when she was the chef under the previous owner. Back then, however, it wasn’t looking financially feasible.
Then one day, maybe six weeks ago, Wishard and Molli, the sous chef, had a revelation. What if they went into business together? Now the two friends have emerged from a cloud of paperwork about to take ownership of the restaurant where they already run the kitchen.
Molli has a farm in Fall City, and had planned to transition away from the kitchen and more into farming. But she and Wishard say they couldn’t bear to dismantle the good chemistry among the La Medusa staff, or change the vibe in a restaurant that both chefs say feels more like cooking at a house every night.
The duo (no, they aren’t dating; yes, everyone asks them that) is hoping to officially take ownership on January 1. Either way, December 31 will be Andres’s last night at the helm, so expect quite a party in the restaurant on New Year’s Eve. And diners shouldn’t expect big changes, though Molli will be spending more time in the front of the house. The partnership also gives Wishard a little time to focus on a salumi side project he has in the works.
La Medusa’s incoming owners are planning to do some fundraising in December, including the value-added gift cards that have proved a good strategy for places like Shanik, Wandering Goose, Restaurant Zoe, and Luc.