“I didn’t know any better” says Wendell, the owner of Mix & Malt in Hye Hwa, Seoul.
For a year, he and the owner of now defunct Comfort Zone would jokingly exchange offers on buying the business. When their numbers met, Wendell had a decision to make. Despite having no experience running a bar or restaurant and having no staff in place, he bought the restaurant and renamed it Mix & Malt. It was a good decision.
Wendell and his staff are now making some of the best western food and cocktails in Seoul. His head bartender, Ike, works in collaboration with him. His fiance, Lois, runs the kitchen and does the actual cooking.
Even though Lois doesn’t have formal training, she has a natural talent and passion for making tasty food. Wendell spent years working in finance in New York and it’s his taste memory that drives the recipes for their menu.
Every garnish, every little bit of seasoning, has been obsessed over and experimented with. Tangy chicken wings, savory meatloaf, and al dente cheesy lasagna testify to the care that has gone into the food.
“I have a passion for getting the right taste. It has to be perfect.” Wendell says over a dirty martini.
Fine whiskeys and fancy cocktails that one might expect to see more in Apgujeong or Gangnam than the theater district are also stars of the show. Mix & Malt might technically be called a gastropub, but Wendell prefers “dining bar.”
Above all else, he strives to create a place where he is happy to be. An xbox, assortment of board games, and shuffleboard provide other amusements for himself and other guests. And on any given night, you can see him mingling with customers and enjoying the sanctuary he has created.
What’s his biggest regret? “Not doing this sooner,” he says with a grin.