Off Highway 525 in downtown Clinton, eclectic smells from around the world ooze from behind the counter at Clinton’s newest restaurant.
And the dishes come out fast.
The owners of South Whidbey-based catering business Midnight Kitchen, Scott and Stephanie Pendell, have brought their most recent culinary project, Island Nosh, to the space neighboring MAKE Whidbey. The fast-casual restaurant whips up noodle dishes from around the globe and has takeout options.
The doors opened Wednesday.
“The idea here was to serve fast, affordable and wholesome food,” co-owner Scott Pendell said. “What we were looking for as a young family on South Whidbey was a place where families can come and sit down, but also allows people to take their food home.”
The Pendells say the concept of a noodle-themed dining spot came from what they saw as a lack of world foods on the South End. They thought noodles were a good way to tie different ethnic foods together, so it didn’t seem too “peculiar.” Dishes ranging from ramen to handmade fettuccine to crab macaroni and cheese are all served in the cozy eatery, which can seat up to 25 customers at a time.
Scott Pendell added that serving noodle dishes allows for a range of gluten free items on the menu as well, since multiple recipes are rice noodle-based.
“We were looking for a place where my kids could eat more familiar food like mac ‘n’ cheese, but I could eat a bowl of Thai-style noodles with a beer to top it off,” Stephanie Pendell said.
During Island Nosh’s trail period, South Whidbey seemed to like the restaurant’s concept, at least according to the amount of food sold on the couple of days its doors have been open. The noodle bar held soft openings on Sept. 30 and Oct. 7, and were quickly “wiped out of food.” There were originally plans to host a handful of trial days, but the owners chose to limit it to two due to the amount of food sold.
“We served about 100 people in two hours,” Stephanie Pendell said. “I expected a hectic start, but I was surprised we were that busy. It’s definitely a confidence booster.”
Clinton Chamber of Commerce Vice President and MAKE Whidbey owner Janae Cameron says Island Nosh adds variety to downtown Clinton. Prior to the noodle bar, Cozy’s Roadhouse and Dairy Queen stood as the area’s lone eateries. Cameron was encouraging to the Pendells to bring their business next door to hers.
Cameron believes adding an additional business where community members can sit down over a plate of food would spur foot traffic, bringing new customers to nearby businesses.
Cozy’s Roadhouse owner Stephanie Cook shrugged off concerns that Island Nosh’s introduction two doors down would pull customers from her business. Similar to Cameron, Cook feels additional businesses in the area would encourage more people to stop in the downtown business core. The town is big enough for the two of them.
Cameron said Island Nosh’s addition could be a sign that Clinton is headed down the right path.
“Part of the reason I worked hard to encourage them to open here was because one of my biggest hurdles was getting people to stop once they got off the ferry,” Cameron said. “We are seeing more businesses coming here. I’m pretty hopeful that we’re going in the right direction.”