A new South End restaurant and food retailer is bringing the taste of Southeast Asia to Whidbey.
Fare Market officially opened Nov. 15, 2021 in Freeland. Though the pandemic and the winter weather have presented more than their share of challenges, co-owners Angela Muniz and Michelle Dalrymple said being new has had its perks when it comes to navigating hurdles.
“It’s been kind of nice being a new business, because no one really has a certain expectation for what we’re supposed to be, so we get to define it in our own way,” Dalrymple said.
The business has been more than a year in the making. The new business partners had been acquaintances for some time — Muniz went to school with Dalrymple’s husband on the island — and had long joked about opening a restaurant together.
When Muniz found out that a commercial space in Freeland had become available, however, they started to form more concrete plans.
Asking Dalrymple to work with her was like a business “promposal,” Muniz joked.
Fare Market is open from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday through Thursday. The restaurant serves a lunch menu of Vietnamese dishes and other world comfort foods. There is also a retail space and a “grab ‘n go” fridge selling sauces, cheese and other food items.
Like all businesses, Fare Market has had to navigate the difficulties posed by the pandemic economy, such as labor shortages and supply chain issues. Last month’s unusually cold and snowy weather also presented an unexpected challenge.
“We’re super grateful just to be open right now, and to have the staff that we do,” Muniz said. “Even for opening on Nov. 15, we’ve already experienced three power outages, two snowstorm days, COVID testing for the staff and whatnot. So we’re definitely getting out of the big hurdles out of the way.”
But the business model has flexibility built into it, and the owners said they’re open to expanding and changing as circumstances allow.
Future expansion, for example, might include anything from adding food items to the menu to hosting themed dinners in the evenings to rearranging the tables in the restaurant.
“We’ve been quite adaptable and open-minded to the whole thing, and I think that as long as you can do that as a business owner right now, and be willing to bend a little bit or whatever it is, then it’s OK,” Dalrymple said.