Industry pro tapped to manage KAOS
“I was impressed,” Emrick said. “We started talking.”
Eventually, that conversation led to Wyant’s naming as general manager of operations for the KAOS complex Emrick is planning on McMinnville’s historic Third Street.
Wyant became acquainted with the wine industry through his involvement in a distribution business. Then he went to work for Jim Bernau of Willamette Valley Vineyards in Turner, where he was engaged in development and marketing of both wine and beer.
He later beame a partner in the St. Mary Lodge and Resort, serving Montana’s Glacier National Park. It featured 140 motel rooms, six restaurants, seven retail shops and a country market.
“It was like running a small city,” Wyant said, housing and feeding a staff of 250 in addition to guests. He said it was totally self-contained, even operating its own water and sewage systems.
In his 12 years there, Wyant watched the Oregon wine industry grow from afar. And he yearned to return.
In 2007, he developed the Inn at Red Hills and Farm to Fork restaurant in Dundee.
He sold it a year after its opening, but maintained ties with chef Paul Bachand. In 2010, they joined to open Recipe, a Newberg restaurant.
Wyant said his focus in each situation has been on satisfying the local market first. “If you do that, the tourists will find you,” he said.
Opening Recipe has given him something to work on while he waits for the McMinnville project to hit its stride, “and not go crazy.” He said he’s been working diligently with Emrick, Michael Hanks and others to move the project forward, and thinks they are knocking on the door now.
“I think it’s going to be beautiful and different, and will fit downtown,” he said. And that is a challenge for a new building in a historic setting.
“We want people to walk in and think that maybe it’s been here 50 years,” Wyant said. To achieve that, he said, they will be taking the building’s decor back to the pre-wine era.
He said the look will be pre-1970, when Yamhill County was dominated by turkey operations and nut orchards. In fact, they’ve dismantled a turkey barn to supply wood for the interior, running some pieces through a planer and leaving others rustic, he said.
But building from scratch provides an opportunity to meet high energy-efficiency standards, he said.
Wyant said he envisions a place where people can dress up or dress down, as they see fit. So a vintner can feel comfortable coming in after a day in the field, while a visitor in dress attire can also feel right at home.
Having two restaurants, both with full kitchens, will allow fuller utilization of resources. He said, for example, one might serve tenderloin and the other shoulder meat from a whole beef.
The rooftop restaurant and bar not only features expansive outdoor seating, with fireplaces both indoors and out, but also a pergola, he said. That will provide enclosed space in inclement weather.
Wyant said the inn, occuping the middle floor, will feature rooms averaging 500 square feet. He said some will feature two bedrooms.
While he’s looking forward to working with KAOS, he plans to retain his partnership in Recipe.
“I really enjoy the hospitality business,” he said. “If you like it, it’s a rewarding business.
“It’s always a new adventure. You always have the opportunity to make sure guests walk away with a smile.”