A Very Real Account of What Opening a Restaurant is Like

Molly Wizenberg’s new memoir reveals the dark side of the restaurant dream
molly wizenberg's new book seattle magazine delancey ballard seattle
Molly Wizenberg at Delancey, the restaurant whose origin story she details in her new memoir

Molly Wizenberg, Seattle author of best-selling memoir A ­Homemade Life and renowned food blog Orangette, never imagined she would open a restaurant, let alone a wildly popular pizza destination in Ballard. Five years after opening Delancey with her husband, Brandon Pettit, she admits that it still feels like a stretch for her. “I would really like restaurants to just hold still,” she jokes. The tenuous balance between the frustrations and rewards of self-taught restaurant ownership drove Wizenberg, 35, to pen a second memoir, Delancey: A Man. A Woman. A Restaurant. A Marriage, coming out this month ($25, Simon & Schuster). Writing the book was her way of making sense of the trials she and Pettit experienced (both culinary and marital) while trying to get Delancey off the ground. Revealing everything from hiring disasters to a meltdown over a salad to the sweet success of calculating the position of the oven with a plastic protractor, the forthright and witty memoir peels back the glossy veneer of the restaurant world and shows just how much failure—and heart—it takes for young marrieds to put wood-fired pizzas in front of eager patrons. Thankfully, the experience didn’t break them. When Wizenberg finished the first draft of Delancey, she was 37 weeks pregnant (with their first child, a daughter named June, now a toddler) and about to deliver the couple’s second venture, craft cocktail bar Essex. “It’s not a fairy-tale story,” she says. “It’s a challenge ever after that I feel lucky to have.”

NEED TO KNOW

1/ Wizenberg and fellow Seattle food writer Matthew Amster-Burton produce a food-focused podcast called “Spilled Milk” (spilledmilkpodcast.com), the goal of which is “to make each other laugh for 15 minutes.”
2/ She advises young couples dreaming of opening a restaurant to know what their strengths are and are not, and try as quickly as possible to delegate accordingly. Also: Always call references for potential hires!
3/ Hear Wizenberg read from Delancey at University Book Store on May 6. 7 p.m. Free. www.bookstore.washington.edu

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