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Martini Brunch

Charlie and Brooke Martin (aka The Martinis)

Charlie (they/them) has spent over 40 years in the industry, starting at the age of 16 (really 15, but lied to get the job) in Bountiful, Utah. His dad was sick, and the family needed the money. Charlie started as a dishwasher but after 3-4 months began cooking, as it paid better. Charlie stayed until the age of 18.

Charlie then traveled to Italy, staying a few years, 1-1/2 of those spent living above a pizzeria. "I gained so much weight," Charlie laughs (now). "My whole idea about food just exploded." Charlie thought his mom was famous for her Spanish rice, made with Minute Rice, tomato sauce, and Velveeta cheese. Returning from Italy, Charlie wanted to say, "Mom, your rice is awful!" but didn't. Instead, Charlie just offered to make it.

Back from Italy, Charlie attended the Culinary Institute of America, graduating in 1990. Charlie worked at The Inn at Little Washington, learning from Chef/Owner Patrick O'Connell. The Inn received two five-star awards, one for the restaurant and one for accommodations, and two five diamond awards. "He taught me that it's a show, you want to be dramatic. He was the first gay chef I had worked with, and he was unapologetic. I started working there in 1990 and stayed a few years. My wife and I had a daughter, and we wanted to move west."

Feeling the need for insurance and a solid paycheck, Charlie stopped cooking and started managing restaurants for California Pizza Kitchen, opening locations in Arizona, Texas, and California. When Charlie started, they had 9 locations, 13 years later, there were over 300. Charlie left and took a regional position with Whole Foods on the East Coast. While not a corporate type, Charlie felt these were tremendous experiences. "I can do what I do now because of these jobs."

Over the years, Charlie got in on the ground floor with a few companies hoping to retire early.

During the winter of 2012, Charlie was on Food Network with Anne Burrell. Brooke and Charlie were DMing on Instagram while Charlie was on set. After Food Network, Charlie did some private catering and enjoyed the beach life while getting to know Brooke from afar.

When Charlie traveled to Seattle to meet Brooke in person, it was a done deal, moving shortly afterward to Seattle where they lived and worked until moving to Mount Vernon to open Martini Brunch.



Brooke (she/her) grew up in Mount Vernon, Washington, and has bartended for 16 years. She's the person who would make up drinks at friends' houses with whatever they had on hand. She worked at Draft Picks for a year before college. She went to school in Seattle and got a Graphic Design degree, supporting herself by bartending and serving. "I jumped around from bar to bar trying to find the best fit for me. It was difficult to find because I like to fix things and make them better. There's a lot of complacency in the industry and it often wasn't a fit for me." Some of the places Brooke worked: Goofy's Sports Bar & Grill, Fremont Dock, Rickshaw, Paddy Coyne's (where she helped with the menu and train the staff). She worked at the Town Pump Tavern in Mount Vernon when she and Charlie moved from Seattle. She's a self-proclaimed Jell-o shot queen, making delicious and boozy Jell-o shots.

"Dive bars are a great fit for me. Generally, people's expectations are low, so you can make people really happy. Elevating a drink, even a nonalcoholic beverage, can make it something special for people. At Martini Brunch, she adds to the experience with unique glassware, sparkles, and more.

When Martini Brunch opened, Brooke made sure people made a living wage and didn't have to work three jobs to keep a roof over their heads. She also doesn't allow tip outs - servers earn those tips. Everyone in the back of the house starts at the same rate with quick raises depending on performance. Raises and bonuses are paid on the weight the person is carrying. Her past experiences are what inform their decisions at their own restaurant.

Brooke and Charlie opened Martini Brunch in Mount Vernon at the end of January 2022.

July 2023

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