Photo courtesy of Ashley Lodato
Ryan Clement, left, recently sold East 20 Pizza to his sister, Lindsay Evans, here with her husband, Luke, at the Winthrop restaurant.

New owner buys Winthrop restaurant from her brother

When Winthrop resident Lindsay Evans suggested to her younger brother, Ryan Clement, that he open a pizza restaurant back in the mid-2000s, it didn’t occur to her that she might one day own that business

Little more than a decade later, Evans is now the enthusiastic new owner of East 20 Pizza in Winthrop.

Back when she had the idea, Evans was teaching at Little Star Montessori School and raising her young daughter, while Clement was working on cruise ships near Hawaii. Evans said to Clement, “You should move to the Methow Valley and open a Local Myth Pizza in Winthrop!” referring to the iconic pizza parlor in Chelan, where Evans and Clement were raised.

The siblings did not grow up in a restaurant family, but both remember with appreciation their mother’s home-cooked meals and many large family dinners. Clement had a solid background making pizza, as Local Myth Pizza’s first employee in 1998. And, “I’m a businessman,” says Clement, who was immediately intrigued by the idea. 

That entrepreneurial spirit, coupled with business support from local resident George Baumgardner, was the secret sauce to launching East 20 Pizza. With Clement’s “vision, energy, and motivation,” says Evans, East 20 Pizza opened its doors in 2007 and has been feeding Methow Valley locals and visitors ever since. 

“We’re focused on year-round satisfaction of locals,” says Clement. “Local year-round guests are our bread and butter.” Bread and cheese, perhaps? In any case, the love Clement has for the people of this valley is evident in the role locals play in East 20’s business plan and practices.

“We modify our menu seasonally,” says Clement, “to give locals variety throughout the year.” For example, as the days grow darker East 20 features its Winter Special Combos and reintroduces the popular Thai Bowl.

Clement has also shown his commitment to the local community through his use of locally grown products, a practice Evans embraces and will sustain. “The local products are of superior quality and freshness,” says Luke Evans, Lindsay’s husband. Clement adds, “And there is the whole economic component. This community has supported us. We want to support the local economy by buying products made here.” 

Local ingredients

To this end East 20 Pizza features flour from Bluebird Grain Farms (“their flour is so good, we’ve used it since day one,” says Clement), meat from Thomson’s Custom Meats, veggies from Willowbrook Farms, Old Schoolhouse Brewery beer, Lost River wines, and a whole host of products sourced through Hank’s Harvest Foods. 

Clement has “put [his] heart and soul into this place,” he says, “but now I’m ready to live somewhere else, travel, and not be tied to a particular place.” So he approached his sister with a proposal: Evans would sell the Lake Chelan Artisan Bakery she opened in 2013 and purchase East 20 Pizza from Clement.

The suggestion did not come wholly out of the blue for Evans. “In recent years I had heard Ryan mention his exit strategy,” Evans says, “and I told him, ‘when you get serious, let me know.’”

The timing was fortuitous. Luke Evans’ work as the owner of Methow Valley Builders is stable (among other things, Methow Valley Builders is building the first neighborhood of the Methow Valley’s affordable housing complexes) and the Lake Chelan Artisan Bakery is in a good position to be transitioned to new ownership by one of Evans’ employees.

“Catalina Jimenez was my first employee,” says Evans. “She has been with me through everything. She’s been steady year-round and over the years she has taken on more and more responsibilities at the bakery. It’s a natural segue for her to own the business.”

For Evans, too, owning East 20 Pizza is a natural segue. She baked at Cinnamon Twisp for many years, owned a bakery for five years, and waited tables at East 20 Pizza in its early years.

“I’ve been involved all along,” Evans says. “It’s been fun to watch what Ryan was doing and to see the evolution of East 20 as it has grown over the years.”

Evans notes that Clement provided “inspiration and support” for her when she was starting the bakery, as well — a tribute that Clement was previously unaware of. Clement mentions his own bastion of inspiration and support, Baumgardner, who Clement says made it possible for him to open, grow, remodel, and sustain East 20 Pizza. “I couldn’t have pulled this off without George Baumgardner,” says Clement.

“Business is operating smoothly now that our infrastructure is complete,” says Clement, “just in time for Lindsay to take the wheel!” And Evans is ready, noting that she has no major changes planned to the menu or vibe of East 20. “Local business is still our focus,” says Evans, “and we will continue to provide an environment that allows visitors to feel like they’re part of the local scene.”

Traditions continue

East 20 Pizza under Evans will roll out the Combo Club program, the purpose of which is to allow diners to sample all of East 20 Pizza’s varieties and receive as a reward a Combo Club card, which gives the carrier discounted pizza prices and happy hour beer prices all afternoon two days a week. 

Evans will also carry on Clement’s program of pizza vouchers (a program where East 20 Pizza donates several dollars per pizza to various kids’ sports teams and non-profits), as well as the popular tradition of hosting an annual Local Appreciation Night (Dec. 5, 2018, 5-8 p.m.), which invites locals to come eat free pizza by the slice.

“We just pass around tray after tray of different combos,” says Clement. “It’s a great way for locals to try out different pizza varieties without having to purchase a whole pizza. It’s a risk-free way to try a pizza you’ve never had before.” Everyone, it seems, is welcome to a piece of the proverbial pie at East 20. 

Diners at East 20 Pizza are likely to see the whole Evans family working alongside some of the restaurant’s long-term staff. Evans’ daughter, Amelia (13), is beginning to learn the ropes of bussing tables. And her 9-year-old son, Gunnar, will probably join the team when he’s older.

This family involvement echoes the welcoming, communal atmosphere Clement has  cultivated in East 20 over the years. “I’m thankful that this place has been able to provide a fun and funky place for locals to eat and hang out, as well as a stable living for me and many of my employees,” he says. “And I’m grateful to the customers who made that possible.”

Clement continues, “I’d like to give Methow Valley residents the biggest thank you for the support over the years. I’d like to yell it from the top of Mt. Gardner! I’m just overwhelmed, humbled, and grateful for the community support.”