Dre Neely and Pepa Brower, owners of Gravy restaurant and a catering business of the same name in Vashon town, are set to begin renovations of the former Saucy Sisters location where they will open an Italian restaurant.
“I think that it’s a cuisine that’s missing [from Vashon] for sure, and it’s sort of a universally liked cuisine,” said Brower last week before lunch was to be served at Gravy, which celebrated its second anniversary on April 2. “We’re not trying to reinvent the wheel; we’re going to serve traditional Italian food. We’re going to introduce meals at a friendly price point.”
At this time, the menu offerings at Sugo — which means “sauce” in Italian — will likely consist of traditional family-style dishes, wood-fired pizza and salad, and like its predecessor across the street, will be inspired by the passing seasons.
According to Brower, the new restaurant has been a long time coming.
“It’s something that we’ve been thinking about since we first opened Gravy,” she said. “I think most people who own a restaurant want to open another. It seems like a natural progression. And for us, it’s a great opportunity, just across the street from what we have now.”
Brower isn’t deterred by thoughts of the workload she or her husband will incur managing two restaurants.
“It’s absolutely manageable, otherwise we wouldn’t be doing it,” she said. “I think it’s a smart business move for us. What I’m hoping is that the businesses will support each other, and it will give people other options for dining out.”
The couple has partnered with entrepreneur Mike McConnell and his wife Liz Weber McConnell, who Brower said approached them to assist their vision of simple, accessible Italian cuisine on the island.
“I think they appreciate my husband’s food, and they think he’s a talented chef,” she said of the McConnells. “I think they believe we will be a good fit to do this venture, and proximity-wise [in a position] where we could do both. We like them. We’re friends with them. They’re good business people, and they’re successful business people,” she said.
As far as a date for a potential opening goes, Brower is cautiously optimistic about the prospective remodel timeline of the former Saucy Sisters property, permitting requirements and other needs until Sugo makes its first public appearance.
“I think we’re hoping for late summer or very early fall,” she said. “We have to get in there and get some renovating done first.”