Spring is finally here…well, sort of. As the last bits of snow are falling for the winter and the temperatures are finally evening
out, it is finally time to start enjoying patio weather and some new destinations again. I don’t know about you all, but I can’t
wait for not only the warm weather, but the craft cocktails and special menus coming soon! One in particular I can’t get off
my mind is Peppercorns in Park Ridge, but did you know they have a new owner? Her name is Malissa Wright, and I had a
chance to sit down with her to talk food, drinks, and what she’s looking forward to this coming Spring:
AK: So tell me about yourself, how did you get into th restaurant business?
MW: Alright I’m from Charleston, South Carolina and I’ve kinda always been the hospitality and service business, whether
it’s been my father running a KFC, Taco Bell, or my little brother being a chef, or my friends being chefs in Charleston, or me
bartending, waitressing, food running and all that. I always gravitated to the hospitality system and marketing, actually my best friend owned this. The timing was right, the opportunity came around. My best friend sold the restaurant to me and
that’s what lead me here.
AK: Did you ever go to school for hospitality?
MW: I went to school for marketing and oddly enough I stopped doing school for marketing and I went to dental for 7
years, and then I ended up in hospitality again. I was a promo model and that’s how I met my husband.
AK: Very Interesting, and what sort of foods do you enjoy off the clock?
MW: I like to indulge in Mexican food or Sushi and Tequila…I love Tequila! (laughs) My husband also makes fun of me because I always carry around a gallons of water. I’m a health nut, I go to the gym every day. I try to stay away from all processed
food, and that’s what I like to say about Peppercorns. We try to stay away from all processed food, all our food is fresh. But
yeah, I’m very healthy. So, besides indulging in Mexican and Sushi, I’ll have a piece of steak, some quinoa, crab cakes, and
AK: That’s amazing, good for you! One of the things I did notice about Peppercorns menu is that it offered Vegan/Vegetarian options. What other things make it unique and what other changes have been made?
MW: Yeah! You know a lot of people made some comments about the menu before we changed it that is really catered to
a man. The portions were big, the sandwiches were big, meaty and hearty, but now, women that come here are excited that
the new menu caters to both men and women including some healthier options like: vegan, vegetarian, gluten free. Now
there’s a little something for everyone!
AK: Awesome, that will definitely keep many different types of people coming through the doors. So tell me, how does it feel
running your own place?
MW: It’s good and exciting…it really is. I’m a people person, and I like to put smiles on people’s faces whether that be
making them excellent drinks or with good food or whatever. I like to have people who are happy around me, I like to create
that fun, positive, environment, and the people who work at Peppercorns, a lot of them have been working here since the
place opened up. We didn’t change our staff with the new ownership, it’s like a family. All the locals, regulars, employees
are very open armed, warmed hearts, and smiles. They accepted us and me, the menu and everything else like that. It’s
been a very easy transition so it’s been fairly exciting to own a restaurant instead of having all the headaches and the bumps and bruises along the way…everyone works very well together.
AK: Can you tell me a little history about Peppercorns?
MW: This building itself is over 100 years old and used to be a speakeasy called Eddies Inn. Actually in the basement is a coal
chute, and it’s still there, where they put the coal to keep it warm in the basement and they would buy the hooch from the
cops. It was Eddie’s Inn for a while, and then it got changed to Bear’s Nest. It was sort of like a biker bar and then Dean
bought it about 36 years ago, and it’s been Peppercorns ever since.
AK: What do you think makes Peppercorns stand out from other places?
MW: One, it’s a place you can come as you are. You can come in your gym clothes, you can come in stilettos, single or
married, it’s a “come as you are” place. We cater to anybody and everybody. Our service is amazing, you’re always going to
be greeted with a smile. It’s like Cheers, It’s that comfort place. If we don’t know your name already, we’re going to know your
name by the end of the night. Our last thing is our fresh ingredients. Our fish is fresh never frozen, our pico-de-gallo always
fresh, our desserts, burgers, and sangrias are homemade. I think that’s what puts us in front of a lot of people.
AK: Do you do events and catering? What do you have planned for Spring?
MW: We do! During the spring and summer, we plan on opening the patio and we do rent out the backroom. Saturdays we
are going to starting having live acoustic, then we our sangria flights, and we are getting two more beer taps as well. Stay
tuned and you can even text Peppercorns to 31996 to find out about more events happening in the future. Seasonal desserts
are coming too, new sangrias. We’re constantly changing with the season. During the day, we do open up tables but when
happy hour occurs we want to make it more lounge. We’ll bring out couches and stuff and make it more trendy. We also
daily blackboard specials to try new things too, so always check that out when you come in.
AK: Thank you for taking the time to sit with me, Malissa. Best of luck with everything!
MW: Thank you and come back soon!
Peppercorns definitely gave me a Cheers sort of vibe. With its friendly staff, awesome food, and quality drinks, I only expect
amazing things this coming Spring season. Don’t forget to follow Peppercorns on their website and social media pages!
Thank you for the hospitality, Peppercorn staff! Cheers and happy eating to you all!