Fairhaven Pizza has a new owner, but given his background there is little chance the pizza itself is going to change much.
James Wadkins recently took over the restaurant at 1307 11th St. from Tom Trailbush, who established it in 2004. Around the same time Trailbush was getting started in Fairhaven, Wadkins was getting his start learning about pizza from Art Sill in Lake Chelan, the same person who taught Trailbush.
“I consider Art the godfather of pizza,” said Wadkins, who started off as a teen washing dishes and working his way up at Local Myth Pizza in Lake Chelan.
Wadkins decided to go to Western Washington University and connected with Trailbush.
“Throughout the years Fairhaven Pizza was my piece of home to keep me from making the four-hour drive back just to eat pizza,” Wadkins said.
After graduating from Western, Wadkins wanted to start his own pizza place but had trouble finding the right spot. It turned out Trailbush was ready to spend more time with his commercial fishing business, so a deal was struck, and Wadkins officially took over in April.
In talking to the regulars at Fairhaven Pizza, the most common question is whether he was going to change the pizza.
“This is the only way I know how to make pizza,” Wadkins said with a laugh. “So I can’t change.”
He is adding his own touches to the business. The logo has changed, and he’s added more local beers to the tap selection. Having grown up on a farm, he’s also big on locally grown ingredients, so he shops at local farms and even grows some of the ingredients at home.
Over the years Fairhaven Pizza became known for its prawns that Trailbush would bring back from Alaska. Wadkins said that’s something he hopes to continue.
“Our goal is to keep Tom’s space here for quite some time,” Wadkins said.
Fairhaven itself is becoming a popular spot for pizza places. Övn Wood Fire Pizza is scheduled to open near the Village Green in August, adding to the mix of several others in the area. Wadkins said that while that means more competition, he notes the places have distinctly different styles for people to choose from.
“The most important thing is that Fairhaven is thriving as a business community,” he said. “If the (business) across the street is doing well, that means I’m doing well. At Fairhaven Pizza we are far from a traditional style pizza, and that’s what our customers enjoy.”
The one surprise for Wadkins since becoming owner is the amount of legwork involved in getting the ingredients he wants. It’s for the best that he makes sure everything is hand-picked, he said. The best part of being the owner is chatting with the customers.
“People always have a funny story to tell, and it makes my day,” he said.
Fairhaven Pizza is teaming up with Aslan Brewing for an event on Saturday, Aug. 22. With the purchase of a beer, Fairhaven Pizza is giving away stainless steel beer pints.
For further details on the restaurant, visit the company’s Facebook page.
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