Early in 2015, Kirkland’s best-kept dining secret had clearly been let out of the bag. Seating at DERU Market was hard to come by during peak lunch hours, which seemed to be most hours of the day, and artisan sandwiches were flying out of the kitchen at unprecedented rates.
In an effort to better serve the community, chef-owners Jamie Casady and Jordan Cooper decided to double their employee count to more than 40 team members. Everyone kept telling them they should just duplicate DERU in another location.
But, aside from the fact that businesses need to make money to survive, profits alone are small motivation for the pair, and making 90 more pounds of kale salad each week held little appeal. Suffice it to say, opening a brand-new location wasn’t on the chefs’ radar as they buckled down to invest in and train new employees during those early winter months of 2015.
Meanwhile, Chef Cooper was planning a top-secret surprise for his chef-girlfriend-business partner’s 30th birthday in March 2015 — a romantic trip to Paris and, hopefully, a title change to fiancé. Clearly, no one at DERU Market had the mental or emotional capacity to consider an expansion in the DERU food family.
Which is precisely why the couple repeatedly and emphatically said “no” when the leasing agent of the newly developed Areté building, a self-proclaimed live-work-art community on downtown Kirkland’s Central Way, came calling. After the second “no,” the leasing agent informed them that the building’s owner, a long-time DERU customer and friendly neighborhood acquaintance of the chefs, wanted to meet with them about the available retail space.
Chefs Casady and Cooper — harried, frazzled, and nearly too busy to breathe — agreed to meet with the owner out of a deeply held commitment to “stewarding relationships” in the community.
Just prior to the top-secret Parisian getaway, they sat down with Robert Pantley in the unfinished retail space. Pantley ended the chat with a question: If time and money weren’t an object, does the space speak to you? She gave the space one last glance as she walked to the door and suddenly stopped, held fast by the muse of inspiration.
“Truly, if time and money were no object,” said Casady, “this would be DERU’S little brother.”
Thinking that the project had very little chance of becoming reality since time and money are always an object, the chefs made no commitment but tentatively agreed to meet with Pantley again. Then they hopped on a plane to the city of light, feasted on the bounty of Paris for a week, and got engaged!
Upon return, life was busier than ever, especially with a wedding to plan. A wedding that was a mere two months away in June, on the French countryside, in a chateau, of course. The follow-up meeting with Pantley was brief; the process progressed no further than the first time, and the only decision made was to connect back up in July when the couple returned from their honeymoon.
Fast forwarding a bit here: Closest friends and family surround the happy couple for a week in France; deep heartfelt conversations ensue; meaningful time is spent cooking, eating, strolling along quaint French country lanes; radiantly beautiful bride and equally dapper groom enter wedded bliss in a picturesque field shod in rain boots (it actually rained earlier that day — hey, something has to give, right?).
Somewhere in that modern fairytale, the chefs stumbled upon a local deli-restaurant combination that suffused them with inspiration. Maybe they should consider a second restaurant.
Returning home from France for the second time that year, Mr. and Mrs. took another plunge and changed their reply to “yes” with some significant caveats, like they wouldn’t begin construction until early 2016 and they wouldn’t be open on Sundays so team members could have a day to recharge. Pantley agreed to the unusual terms with genuine tears of joy in his eyes.
And suddenly it was real — DERU’s “little brother” was on the way.
Casady describes DERU as the older brother — product of first-time parents, a bit rough around the edges and who learned everything he knows the hard way. Little Brother, on the other hand, possesses all the advantages of a younger child — parents with some semblance of what they are doing this time around. He’s fancier and slicker.
Little Brother is obviously from the same gene pool as DERU Market. Signature clean white walls with walnut shelving are accented with a bit more gray; subtly different subway tiles line the bar; and seating can accommodate 50+ diners, as opposed to the 30ish at DERU.
“Little Brother will be the convivial complement to DERU. The food and people will be the art,” says Casady.
The menu will be separate from DERU’s menu, though with identical quality and commitment to local, seasonal, and organic ingredients. Expect more communal items like charcuterie-style boards laden with meats, cheeses, pickled vegetables, dips, and spreads. In addition to beer and wine, Little Brother features a couple of specialty cocktails each day, as well as a fresh daily juice and full coffee bar.
Connecting Farmers to Customers
The DERU chefs and their food-sourcing manager, Tina Fogall, joined forces with their farming partners in creating the Little Brothers’ Farmers Market. The market is a chef-curated farmers market selling only “table” things (food and flowers) on Saturdays.
“This is a place to come and do your food shopping, and we want it to be a beautiful, inspiring, hospitable, special experience,” said chef Jamie Casady.” We asked ourselves, “How can we have the farmers high-fiving us at the end of the season?”
The DERU team committed to purchasing tents and tables, the weekly setup and teardown of those tents and tables, charging only a very small participation fee and eliminating common percentage-of-sales fees.
723 Ninth Ave., Kirkland
450 Central Way, Kirkland
Little Brother’s Farmers Market
450 Central Way, Kirkland
Saturdays, 10 a.m.-3 p.m.