POCATELLO — You grow up in the kitchen, learning how to perfect a recipe from your father who was once known as one of Pocatello’s best executive chefs.
You try your hand working at one of the Gate City staple restaurants that your dad helped get off the ground, only to find out that that grind just isn’t your jam. Then, you plunge head first into opening your own business, a food truck that offers upscale finger food at an affordable price.
At least that’s what you do if you’re Ryan Wiscombe, the owner of Palate Street Bistro and someone who over the past three years has grown his business to include event catering, and, in the very near future, a full-blown brick-and-mortar restaurant.
“How much Palate Street has grown within the past three years is absolutely mind boggling and awesome,” Wiscombe said. “My dad would probably roll over and be like, ‘You really started all of this with a trailer?’”
Wiscombe is the son of the late Rob Wiscombe, a long-time executive chef in Pocatello who co-owned the downtown fine dining Italian joint known as the Continental Bistro before it closed in 2008. The elder Wiscombe was moving into a co-ownership position with partner Bill Isely to help operate Cafe Tuscano (where the younger Wiscombe worked for a while before opening Palate Street) when he tragically died in 2013 while attending his daughter’s wedding in Cancun, Mexico.
Ryan still thinks about his dad all the time, especially after he’s churned out a recipe that he knows will blow people’s socks off, or when he took home the 2021 Idaho State Journal Readers’ Choice Award for being the Gate City’s best chef.
Palate Street Bistro, located at the microbrewery Jim Dandy Brewing inside Pocatello’s historic Iron Triangle district and a stone’s throw from the Center Street Underpass, has become known for producing upscale bar food like the Nashville Hot Chicken Sandwich or the Palate Burger. Both come on a brioche bun, with the chicken getting a spicy rub oil and pickles and the burger accompanied by a pickle aioli and a homemade bacon jam. (Ryan was reducing about 10 pounds of bacon for the jam while the Journal was interviewing him for this story)
Some of what helped Ryan take home the award as the city’s best chef, however, comes from creating specialty rotating menus for holidays or community events — dishes like a blackened crawfish alfredo or jambalaya — both of which are available now for Mardi Gras — or a corned beef and cabbage for St. Patrick’s Day, or even the German Jagerschnitzel (crunchy breaded pork cutlets with a Jagermeister mushroom sauce) for Oktoberfest.
Ryan’s wife, Lindee, and his amazing crew members are the guinea pigs and sounding board for new creations.
“I’ll bounce ideas off of Lindee and the crew, too, whether they like it or not. I’ll play with a recipe a couple times, dial it into something that I think is good and then we just usually throw it out on the trailer,” Ryan said. “We just go, full send basically.”
Ryan first opened Palate Street in 2019. He said the location at Jim Dandy created a perfect marriage for both businesses, describing the beer created by Jim Dandy owners Hailee and Davis Gove as the best in the city — a great match for his top-notch meals. Within a year, he obtained another mobile vessel and began catering Palate Street creations during events like corporate parties, weddings and music festivals.
Now, Ryan and Lindee are preparing to open a Palate Street restaurant on the corner of North 10th Avenue and East Oak Street. Plans to open a restaurant have been on the table for Ryan and Lindee for quite some time, but they were patient and wanted to wait for the perfect opportunity to present itself.
“There just hasn’t been a good building with the right price,” Ryan said.
Lindee added, “Until this place became available.”
Ryan said it was a few weeks ago that a friend of his called him and told him the building at 1015 N. 10th St. was available and that he should give the owners a call. Ryan called him up, and he and Lindee met him at the building. Hours later, the couple owned a building fully furnished and equipped with everything they needed to operate a restaurant, including an in-house smoker.
“Six hours,” Ryan said about how long it took for the deal to materialize. “We came in with Lindee’s dad who is in real estate and he told us we’d be dumb if we didn’t make this happen.”
Palate Street currently has about four or five employees and is looking to hire about five or six more to help run the restaurant. The tentative plan is to have Palate Street restaurant open for breakfast and lunch by the start of next month. Then, by the end of the first quarter, the plan is to expand the offerings to include dinner as well. Ryan and Lindee want to be cautious about the restaurant eating into the success of the trailer at Jim Dandy and want to ensure they have the proper staff to keep both places running efficiently.
“Our anticipation is to have breakfast, lunch and dinner here at the restaurant,” Ryan said. “Most everything at Jim Dandy’s and the vibe that we’ve created there is going to stay. We’re just adding to the beautifulness that we’ve created. We’re going to have an awesome breakfast menu and our lunch menu is probably going to include a lot of the sandwiches that we’ve done at Jim Dandy’s.”
Ryan and Lindee are still hammering out the exact times, but he anticipates the restaurant will be open from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday for breakfast and lunch. The hours are expected to be expanded when dinner is added to the menu, Ryan said. Lindee added that the restaurant wants to be a go-to place for to-go orders and take out. The building also has a beer and wine license, and Ryan is in the process of getting it transferred over to his name.
The expansion will also help all of Palate Street’s operations run more smoothly, allowing employees to complete most of the prep work for the week in a dedicated kitchen space as opposed to a small section inside one of the trailers.
Surprisingly, the new business venture came about flawlessly, he added.
“Everything in the universe is working really well for us,” Ryan said. “Things just keep falling into place right at the right time and right where it needs us to go.”
While things have seemingly fallen into place for Ryan and Lindee, success hasn’t come without countless hours of hard work and dedication. The continued support from the local community and “the best crew in the world” as Ryan puts it has definitely contributed to Palate Street’s prosperity.
“Thank you to everyone who has continued to support us over the years,” Ryan said. “We got big things in store for the future and we can’t wait to enjoy this new adventure with all of you.”