With nearly 30 years of restaurant expertise under their belts, Lisa and Peter Dougherty set out on a business adventure to own and operate their own restaurant.
The couple met while working at a restaurant, where Lisa was a server and Peter was a cook that had just finished culinary school. They moved to Vancouver about 20 years ago, where Peter worked as a chef at various places around Portland and beyond. However, his goal was always to own a restaurant and his career was always directed toward that purpose.
When the Doughertys opened La Bottega, which means “The Shop,” in 2006, their goals were twofold: to own a restaurant in the community where they lived in and to have their kids be a part of the business.
“Our vision was a restaurant and deli, styled after the great Italian delis of New York and San Francisco,” Peter said. “In addition, we love wine and wanted that to be a major focus of the restaurant and of the food. At the time we opened, there wasn’t all that much happening on Main Street after 5 p.m., so we wanted to offer as much diversity as we could to ensure customer traffic. Furthermore, we wanted a restaurant that would be approachable to the community, whether you are a foodie or just someone that is hungry. We wanted to offer the style of food, wine and service that we know and love, but with a very casual, inviting atmosphere.”
La Bottega is a culmination of those goals. The company is the perfect blend of a full-service restaurant, an upscale wine shop and a deli. Many of the soups, sauces, pastas and entrées are sold in the freezer case for walk-in customers. In addition, virtually everything is made from scratch, including the desserts, stocks, sauces, dressings, mayonnaise, pickles and more.
Today, the company has grown from eight staff members to 25 employees, with the Doughertys’ kids still an active part of the business. Peter explains that he and his wife live about a mile away from the restaurant, which allows them to immerse themselves in what the local community has to offer.
“We spent many years working across the bridge, and we enjoyed going into Portland to dine from time to time,” he said. ”But we did not like being held hostage by the bridge to find good food, and we believed that others must feel the same way as we did. So, we opened La Bottega with the same focus on quality and attention to detail as we would have in Portland.”
There are now plans for the restaurant to expand their existing location by building an additional 1,500 square feet behind the restaurant. They are working with contractors and have architectural plans in place, and are now working on the financial component. This expansion will allow for another 40 seats in the dining room, which will allow for shorter wait times at the door and the ability to host special events and large parties. The expansion will also create a bigger kitchen to increase their production and serving capacity.
“We have been blessed with a great opportunity and all of the tools necessary to achieve our purpose: to maintain a high standard of service and quality, to keep our pricing reasonable even as costs continue to climb, to be ever-changing while developing ourselves and our staff and to take care of our employees as well as we know how – they are our single greatest resource,” Peter said.
This article was written by Brooke Strickland and was first printed in the Vancouver Business Journal.