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Cooking Up New Ideas

Amber Amos' experiment with Westside Local didn't exactly pan out as planned. Now she looks to the future.

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Chef Amber Amos had already made a splash in Redmond with the opening of Westside Taco Co. in summer 2017—its second incarnation, after initially opening in Los Angeles. With the cart, located at Kobold in downtown Redmond, running successfully, Amos then ventured into a brick and mortar, opening Westside Local shortly before the pandemic started, with a focus on fresh, local ingredients and a constantly changing menu. That dream saw its first big challenge with COVID-19, and now, a few other hiccups, including a fire. I checked in with Amos about the future of Westside Local.

Amos cooks up tacos inside Westside Taco Co. in 2108. - CREDIT LISA SIPE
  • Credit Lisa Sipe
  • Amos cooks up tacos inside Westside Taco Co. in 2108.

Source Weekly: Share a little about what the vision for Westside Local has been.

Amber Amos: The vision for Westside Local was to bring something new and fresh to Redmond, adding to the evolving food scene. A locally sourced menu rotating weekly based on what our farmers and ranchers could surprise us with, within reason. The menu was international. I would create dishes with the ingredients I could source based on how they made me feel, so we did dishes from all regions of the world. 

SW: You've encountered a couple bumps in the road this past month or so. Can you talk about what's been happening?

AA: Well, it started with opening a restaurant and being blindsided by Covid and the lockdown. Worst. Time. Ever. to open a restaurant. Recently, we were advised that the building was being sold. It did (very quickly and abruptly) and we were given 45 days to vacate....THEN there was a small fire and the restaurant was forced to close, also very abruptly, and we were regretfully unable to serve our customers for those last six weeks. Finding new real estate has been proven bordering the impossible, but we are on the hunt every single day. 

SW: What's your ideal scenario moving forward for the restaurant?

AA: Not sure yet...just want to create food that makes people happy in an environment that brings people together for the greater good of the community. Lots of concepts to consider. A space with ample seating both indoor and outdoor, and a bar to accommodate Heather's cocktail skills and customer interaction.

Past featured items at Westside Local. - COURTESY WESTSIDE LOCAL
  • Courtesy Westside Local
  • Past featured items at Westside Local.

SW: Your other enterprise, Westside Taco, has been really well received in the community—but like everyone I know you've had some challenges throughout the pandemic with running both. Can you talk about what it's been like for restauranteurs and what you hope customers will do, say, etc. going forward?

AA: It has, again, been the worst time in history for our industry. I have seen so many of my fellow chefs, tap house owners and restauranteurs struggle and lose this battle. The workforce is incredibly difficult and the hurdles seem to become higher and higher. You need to be open to change and learn to adapt quickly. At the end of the day, it is doing whatever it takes to weather the storm. I hope that everyone is patient and kind to each other through all of this. Be kind to servers. Be kind to customers. Smile and appreciate that it takes a village and we are all in this together. Please continue to support local, it is the backbone of our community and economy. 

SW: What's your favorite item on either menu?

AA: Depends on my mood. That is probably a better question left to the public. Love the blueberry chipotle brisket and the root beer braised carnitas from the taco truck. The fish taco is my favorite (and seemingly everyone else's) right now. From Local, it was anything off the brunch menu, the brie burger or the pork belly ramen, but the menu changed all the time. 

SW: What's something you wish you could serve to customers if time, money and supply chains were no object?

AA: All the food to all the people, whether they have money or not. Everyone deserves to eat great. Employment for the community and a GIGANTIC garden that all schools have a hand in taking care of. Locally sourced, real ingredients grown and raised the good old-fashioned way. I guess a time machine to take us back to a better place. [Husband] Aaron says Chicago style pizza...specifically, cormeal crust style like Lou Malnatis. Great. Now I want Chicago deep dish pizza. 

About The Author

Nicole Vulcan

Nicole Vulcan has been editor of the Source since 2016. While the pandemic reduced "hobbies" to "aspirations," you can mostly find her raising chickens, walking dogs, riding all the bikes and attempting to turn a high desert scrap of land into a permaculture oasis. (Progress: slow.)

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