Business

Richland's Fat Olives restaurant on eclectic side

RICHLAND -- Richland is getting Fat Olives.

It's a new restaurant, owned by Lisa and Steve "Tiny" Nolan. After 40 Alaskan winters, they have decided to put down roots in Richland.

"We grew up in West Texas, which is a lot like the Tri-Cities," she said. "Back in Alaska, it's still winter, there's snow, lots of it. I'm liking this."

Over the past 20 years the Nolans have opened four businesses in Homer, Alaska, a town of about 5,000. They owned the general store -- "it also had the post office and a small pizzeria. It was really general," she said -- plus two restaurants before opening their first Fat Olives restaurant in Homer.

They've sold the other businesses but have kept their original Fat Olives.

"We have a great Alaskan staff," she said. "We have no problem leaving them in charge."

When the Nolans decided to make the move to the Tri-Cities, they weren't sure what they wanted to do.

"We were talking one day and just looked at each other. 'Of course, we said, another Fat Olives.' It was so obvious," she said.

A year ago, they bought the building at 255 Williams Blvd., which originally was an Arctic Circle drive-in, and began renovations in mid-October.

"We gutted the kitchen and rebuilt it, added on and completely redid the interior," she said. "We like buying older buildings and fixing them up. It's our contribution to urban renewal."

The menu at Fat Olives is a bit eclectic.

"The backbone of our menu are hand-tossed, hand-stretched, Neapolitan-style (thin crust) pizzas," Lisa said.

Diners can order 12- or 18-inch pizzas -- prices range from $14.50-$21.50 -- or opt for pizza by the slice. The giant slices are cut from 28-inch-diameter pizzas, eight slices per pizza.

"They're really generous. A single slice can just about fill up a 14-year-old boy," Lisa joked.

And yes, you can order one of the whopping 28-inchers, but strictly for takeout.

"They don't fit on our tables," she said.

For lunch, the Nolans also will have two-handed sandwiches, called two-handed because that's what you need to pick them up, and big salads. Evenings they'll add hand-cut steaks, seafood and pasta dishes to the menu. And save room for dessert. They have a full-time baker on staff.

She also has added some gluten-free options to the Richland menu. Her husband, Tiny, is gluten intolerant and over the years, she's tried different recipes to find dishes he enjoys. One of those is a gluten-free pizza crust.

"We try to be very accommodating for people who need gluten free or who have food allergies. And we have a vegetarian pizza option too," said their son, JD Nolan. He left behind his job as finance director for a Portland car dealership to move his family to Pasco and take over as manager of the Richland restaurant.

The Nolans said they're particular about the food they serve and make everything from scratch.

"We're a fast-paced restaurant, not fast food. Our slogan is food prepared with passion and served with pride," she said.

The restaurant will employ about 25 and can seat 80. It will offer take-out as well as sit-down dining, and during balmy weather, will have outdoor tables too.

A variety of Oregon and Washington beers, bottled and on tap, plus wines by the glass and soft drinks will be available.

The Nolans plan to open Fat Olives at 11 a.m. Monday. Hours will be from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily. They don't take reservations, but a phone call before a large group drops in would be appreciated at 946-6404.

The Nolans are planning to add catering by summer but no deliveries.

"That's a whole different type of pizza restaurant," Lisa Nolan said.

-- Loretto J. Hulse: 509-582-1513; lhulse@tricityherald.com; more food news at www.tricityherald.com/lifestyles/food

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