Tyla and Vincent Nattress found and built the home business of their dreams.
Orchard Kitchen, a farmhouse/restaurant/classroom/event center/catering business in Bayview, opened this month after years of planning and nearly a decade of dreaming by the husband and wife business duo.
The couple met and fell in love in the Napa Valley area of California, moving to Whidbey six years ago. Vincent Nattress grew up in Coupeville, and had proposed the island as a place for them to relocate after looking to open a new business of their own together.
But the location had to meet a host of qualifications: a house on ample property, a barn, row crops, an orchard and a pond. Everything they wanted and wrote down on their “vision board” came true at the Bayview property, near the corner of Bayview Road and Marshview Avenue, except the pond. Even that was eventually, sort of, made a reality because of a required irrigation ditch.
“But it’s right there in the corner of the property,” Tyla Nattress said, pointing outside from the main dining area through the open door.
The multi-faceted business will be the second time the couple has tried their hands at owning and operating a restaurant. Back in May 2001, they opened a restaurant to acclaim in St. Helena, Calif.
Business was good, then Sept. 11, 2001 sent shockwaves through commerce, especially tourism-based places like Napa Valley. The restaurant was closed, and Vincent Nattress returned to the food and wine industry as executive chef of Meadowood Resort for five years.
As executive chef, he was in charge of reinvigorating and overseeing the reopening of the resort’s restaurant. That meant a lot of work, and a lot of time.
“We weren’t working together,” Tyla Nattress said. “We barely saw each other.”
Looking to regroup and figure out their next move together, they put together their five-year plan — the vision board — that led them to Whidbey Island.
News of Orchard Kitchen’s opening was music to Sandy Whiting’s ears. As executive director of Goosefoot, she’s in charge of overseeing Bayview’s economic vitality with a few select properties. But what helps one part helps the gander, she said.
“We’re really excited about it being because it’s adding more to Bayview Corner. It’s more and more becoming a food center,” Whiting said.
This time around, their venture is far more diversified. It is a restaurant only a couple of times a week, a cooking classroom a few days a week, a working orchard and fowl and goat farm.
On their five-acre property, about three acres are used by Ebb Tide Produce, which sells goods in the farm stand onsite and at farmers markets. The Nattresses grow a dozen or so fruit trees, including pears, plums, apricots, cherries, quince, figs and several varieties of apple — some for eating, some for cider. Plucking and clucking around the orchard are some 50 birds, mostly chickens and turkeys.
“Turkey on the roof, what are you doing?” Tyla Nattress said in the midst of an interview, noticing one turkey had soared atop the chicken coop.
Plenty of the produce for Orchard Kitchen will come from Ebb Tide, but all of the food is to be local. That means the fish, meat, cheese, wine and coffee are coming from someone nearby.
“Here, you see everything, from how it’s grown to how it’s prepared,” Vincent Nattress said.
At least twice a week, and sometimes more, the kitchen opens up for their farmhouse dinners. Designed to be more like a dinner party with friends than a restaurant, meals are typically served family style. An example of the offerings was readily listed by Vincent Nattress: hot smoked salmon with plum chutney, tempura squash blossom filled with summer risotto, crispskin wild salmon, puree of garden cauliflower, green beans with curry and shallot, and deconstructed Whidbey Island blueberry fool for dessert.
“I’m going to be going over there real soon for one of those dinners I saw on their menu,” Whiting said.