Quality, locally-sourced ingredients and passion are the driving forces behind Caper Olives, an Italian restaurant in the heart of downtown Everett. These characteristics are instilled in the restaurant by head chef and owner, Jimmy Liang.
Liang invests in providing top-quality food and service. His focus at Capers Olives is on always giving more than expected. Within the walls of his restaurant, Liang has created a community. He keeps his staff to a small, but dedicated, group of 10.
“We treat people right here; not just guests, but also coworkers,” said Liang.
One member of Liang’s core staff is a server named Melanie who said she appreciates working for Liang because of his commitment to quality and upholding his culinary ethics. Melanie says everything is “top-shelf.” Not a single dish leaves the kitchen without going through Liang’s careful inspection. If he doesn’t think it’s right, he will make substitutions.
Asking Liang his favorite menu item is something he considers to be more of a trick question. Part of what sets Capers Olives apart from other Italian restaurants is that the menu is seasonal and guests can expect to see a new dish every other week.
Only one dish has stayed on the menu since Capers Olives opened on July 5th, 2018 – the spaghetti. This dish is also the only one that features dry pasta. With only three ingredients, this dish is still focused on quality, and the pasta imported from Italy. As for the rest of his pasta, like all things on the menu, it’s made fresh, in-house every day.
Every item on the menu is inspired by what Liang’s local farmers and suppliers within the Pacific Northwest Region have to offer. He makes no decisions as to what will be on the menu until he consults them.
“I don’t know it until I see it,” said Liang. “My menu is simple, that’s how it’s fresh every day. You can’t have a huge menu and have it be fresh every day.”
His open kitchen design is strategic to help showcase the food. Liang believes that if there’s good produce and good ingredients, there’s really nothing worth hiding behind the kitchen walls.
For Liang, the restaurant business is in his blood, and is all he has ever known. His first job was working in his uncle’s restaurant, which served Asian cuisine when his family first came to America – he was 13. Liang says he wouldn’t know what to do if you put him in a desk or office. His passion for the kitchen was inspired by his dad. When he was 16, his parents opened a restaurant where his dad ran the kitchen.
“I've always wanted to learn to cook. My dad, he loved cooking, he always [put in] so much love,” said Liang. “He never took shortcuts.”
It took a few years, however, before his dad began to move him out of the dish pit and into the kitchen. It wasn’t until a very busy Mother’s Day at his parents’ restaurant that his dad finally asked him to help fry some chicken to help with the rush.
“I got burnt pretty badly, but you [have to] start from somewhere," Liang said.
Despite his start in Asian cuisine, Liang states that his first love was always Italian cuisine. He isn’t focused on making money, but rather bringing a cool dining scene to Everett “because they deserve it.” For Liang, it’s about growing the community, one quality restaurant, with locally sourced ingredients, at a time.