Mondo’s Thrives from Community Support, Restaurant Experience

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 For some new business owners, it takes years to establish a loyal clientele. However, for long-time Chewelah residents Kim and Terry Richmond, the community has been quick to offer support for their new Main Avenue restaurant, Mondo’s Italian Café, which opened on Monday, Dec. 3.

“We are overwhelmed by all the love we feel from the whole community,” said Kim Richmond.

Richmond said they took the chance on something they have dreamed about for many years and made it an entire family effort with their three sons Zach (19), Noah (15), and Ben (13) working for them as much as possible.

Mondo’s, located at the former Westside Pizza building, offers Italian comfort food to-go but has inside seating available as well. The menu is based off Luigi’s in Spokane as that is where Terry Richmond honed his cooking skills for ten years under a well-established chef before moving back to his hometown of Chewelah with his family. Kim and Terry met at Luigi’s when she also worked their as a waitress.

When Terry first made his sauce for Mondo’s, Kim said, “I went back in time 20 years ago.”

“What he does is amazing,” she added.

Mondo is Terry’s nickname from working in Luigi’s and it is based on their last name, which Kim said just seemed appropriate.

They had a goal to keep it simple at first, try a few things and adapt the menu as necessary. They “fit the niche of what busy working families need,” Kim said. It’s also one of the only places open on Monday in Chewelah.

Terry has 25 years experience cooking in restaurants, including his former positions as the food and beverage director at 49 Degrees North and Chewelah Golf and Country Club, but Kim said he has always dreamed of having his own after working for others for so many years.

So, when Westside moved locations earlier in 2012, they considered moving forward with their idea to open a restaurant but did not expect the plans to progress as quickly as they did. They were forced forward when Terry’s employment was terminated unexpectedly at the golf course at the end of the summer. However, it ended up being a good thing, Kim said.

Renovations began in September and they worked up until opening day. They removed a wall to open the floor plan, upgraded the kitchen, added a public handicap accessible bathroom, and updated interior design elements to fit the “comfortable, homey” style of Mondo’s.

During this time, they lived on the wages from Kim’s cleaning business and found different ways to save money as the design evolved, and they also took advantage of opportunities that presented themselves along the way.

“Things just fell into place,” Kim said.

Kim said owning your own restaurant is so much different than working in one. But as she was overwhelmed the first week from all the work and thoughts of “what have we gotten into,” Kim said Terry was emotional for different a different: for the fact that he was finally doing the thing he had dreamed of for so long and thankful it was finally happening as he had imagined.

She said it was also hard at first knowing the work they suddenly forced their children into, but she also knows it is good in the long run in teaching them valuable life skills.

Since they have been involved in the Chewelah community so many years, Kim said several people have been very helpful and encouraging to them as they continue to figure things out.

Mondo’s participated in Small Business Saturday on Nov. 24, two days before the official opening, to gain initial exposure as well. Although they were not in service yet, it allowed people to see where they were and introduce themselves to the rest of the community.

Mondo’s is open for lunch and dinner Monday through Saturday 11 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. Call 935-9995 to place an order.

By Kellie Trudeau The Independent Staff

In This Photo: (L-R) Noah, Kim, Zach, Ben, and Terry Richmond.