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Mioposto

Finding the sweet spot, part 2

Last month, we learned how Mioposto came into being and almost went out, and what changed. This month we'll find out more about owners Jeremy Hardy and Tiah Holt and their business.

Tiah grew up in San Diego. She went to UC San Diego and felt pulled in two directions-art and pre-med, loving them both. It was at this point she got into the restaurant industry. She started as a server at Angeli but was really interested in what was happening in the kitchen. The Owner and Chef, Evan Kleiman, spent a lot of time teaching her. Tiah moved to New York City-she was 22 and wanted to experience the city. She studied art and worked at super high-end restaurants that were chef driven, like Jonathan Waxman's Jams on Central Park and Remi. owned by Francesco Antonucci. Even though she was front of the house, she spent a lot of time with the chefs. Being half Korean, she loves big flavors, but her true love is Mediterranean food. Tiah moved to Seattle and worked at Il Terrazzo Carmine for a few years. She then moved to the 5 Spot on Queen Anne, a Chow Foods restaurant, and where she and Jeremy met. They became best friends in 1992, eventually marrying in 2008. She was the GM at 5 Spot and worked at Jitterbug for a little while. "Jitterbug was really a good restaurant," says Jeremy. "I kind of wish I had it now. I would run it differently." Tiah helped Jeremy and Peter with marketing for a few years as well. "She was the one who came up with the dessert The Bulge. Before we would serve it, we'd make people sign a waiver that said things like 'I promise not to sue the restaurant if I eat this dessert and have to go to a fat camp.' We stuck with it, we made them sign. It was a massive dessert: vanilla ice cream, breaded and fried banana, whipped cream, caramel, chocolate, macadamia nuts. It was Tiah's recipe. We paid to get it on the AP Wire and it just took off. I was doing interviews with people in Australia and Japan."

Tiah loves to cook and makes dinner at home nearly every night. "She always says, 'oh this is easy' and then spends two hours on it. The kids are very disappointed when they find out I'm making dinner!," laughs Jeremy. "Most of what's on the menu is hers. She took a normal pepperoni pizza, added salami, mozzarella, tomato, red pepper flakes, oregano, shaved Grana, and honey. Such a great balance. We also do seasonal pies, like our Brussels sprouts with an apple sauce base. It sounds different, but it's very popular. Our seasonal spring lamb pie was so popular, we keep it on the menu all year long (photo). My only recipe on the menu is the Egg and Pancetta. The base is spicy Tutto Calabria, pancetta, and three eggs sunny-side up. I came up with this because people loved Chow's breakfasts. Now they get it in a pizza!"

Jeremy grew up in New York and moved to Boston when he was 12. His first job was dishwashing at 14. He moved to the Lobster House doing prep work and in the bar. "I was fascinated with the bar. It was in the days of heavy smoking and nicotine would literally drip off the walls, which were yellow." He was a history major and attended bartending school. He moved from dishwashing to bartending at TGI Friday's and worked at locations around the country. At the Portland TGIF, he met Peter Levy. They also worked at McCormick and Schmick's together in Portland. "I worked there for nine years eventually becoming the GM toward the end. In 1988, we opened our first restaurant, Beeliner Diner ("eat it and beat it")."

In 1980, Jeremy became fascinated with Scotch. "I'm not a big Scotch drinker, but there's so much behind it. Then I got into Brandy and learned so much about what's behind the label. I took over the wine list at McCormick's. I created the first Oregon-only wine list in 1982 in addition to the regular list and the reserve wine list.

"Tiah and I like building community one relationship at a time. It's near and dear to both of us and why we started our Pizza + Philanthropy. Over the years, we raised nearly $300,000. We believe in giving back, plus it's smart. At Mioposto, we vet our recipients carefully so we know that the money donated is going where it should. We're working on changing our model now; we want to give more."

Bresaola

They started up Mioposto Fine Foods so people could buy some of the things they like at the restaurant such as the Caesar dressing. "Last June, we designed labels and had them made for glass jars. Now we can't get the glass jars, so this project is on hold for a while. Ultimately we may sell items through someone else."

Jeremy is also a guitar player. "Restaurants are like music, bringing out my creative side, but also using systems and analysis. They both light up my whole brain. Restaurants are addictive. If it was easy, I wouldn't do it. We chose to have multiple locations because you have to make a living and I always wanted to grow something. I love creating a brand and curating it. Mioposto has become a dear friend whose ideals and aspirations are higher than my own. It's a set of values we stick by, and it's made me a better person. It's like having an avatar - that's the brand. We have business plans for mini Mios and bar Mios, but I think we'll be stable for a while. If I were younger, I might add more locations. But all four of our current locations are performing well. We're fortunate."

Connie Adams/April 2022

Mioposto

Mount Baker
3601 South McClellan St
Seattle, WA 98144
206-760-3400

Ravenna
3426 NE 55th St
Seattle, WA 98105
206-582-1899

Admiral
2139 California Ave SW
Seattle, WA 98116
206-466-2677

Mercer Island
2601 76th Ave SE
Mercer Island, WA 98040
206-588-2743                                                          Housemade limoncello

www.miopostopizza.com

Photos courtesy of Mioposto


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