The restaurant space home to noodle-and-rice mainstay Wares is on the market. Owner Johanna Ware is hoping to close the NE Sandy restaurant, focusing exclusively on her critically acclaimed flagship Smallwares.
Ware decided to give up her casual counter-service spot for her own mental health. A year after reopening Smallwares, her original restaurant, the chef says balancing both businesses has been a strain. “Originally, I didn’t want to say, ‘I’m closing my place,’ but fuck it, I know my food is good,” Ware says. “It’s just too much... I’m just over my limit with stress.”
The restaurant hasn’t closed yet — in fact, there’s no closing date on the books so far. Ware and her tiny team are holding out until she finds a new tenant for the space, someone to inherit her equipment and the tiny restaurant counter within NE Sandy’s Zipper building. “It’s been really hard,” Ware says. “The building is great, the staff is great, Jason [Myers, of neighboring restaurant Basilisk] is amazing... I just don’t love not being there every day.”
Ware originally developed her reputation at a restaurant in Beaumont, the original Smallwares. In 2016, Ware closed that restaurant, but quickly announced plans to open a more casual version called Wares. After around a year and a half of Wares, Ware was given the opportunity to reopen Smallwares in a new space on Fremont.
When she finds someone to take over her lease, Ware plans to introduce lunch a few days a week at her other Fremont restaurant. The chef is considering adding more of the Wares menu to Smallwares lunch, but she’s also playing around with a completely different schtick. “I know people want variety, so I’m thinking we could do Wares food — ramen and rice bowls — but also slutty chicken parm sandwiches,” she says, but she’s not totally committed to that plan just yet. “It’s a fun model, but we want to see what works.”
Lunch isn’t the only remnant from Wares; Ware plans to bring a seasonal ramen to Smallwares as well, now that she’s leaving behind the original ramen counter. “It’s kind of like, which child do you choose?” she says. “Smallwares is my heart, so I’m like, let’s just contain it into one place.” Those interested in adopting the restaurant space should email firstname.lastname@example.org.
• Wares [Official]
• Previous Wares coverage [EPDX]
• Previous Smallwares coverage [EPDX]