Long a local favorite for lunch and dinner, Swillys is owned and operated by Pullman native Joan Swensen, who became head chef at Swillys in 1995. She bought the restaurant in 2003.
Joan’s food career began at home on the farm before she was even a teenager, when her sister presented her with James Beard’s Fireside Cookbook, and Joan began trying out the recipes. Her mother frequently warned her, “Your dad will never eat that!” but Joan remembers fondly that he always did, thus creating the foundation for a future restaurateur and chef.
Joan’s interest in fusion-style cooking was piqued during her decade of living and eating out “a lot” in San Francisco. When she returned to the Palouse in the early 1970s she honed her skills by cooking frequently on a wood stove. She did some catering, and then helped open the Main Street Deli in downtown Moscow, Idaho. She was the chef and manager at the Deli for 10 years before beginning her Swillys career.Joan rides dressage, draws, and paints in her spare time. Joan’s daughter has worked with her at the restaurant for ten years, and is also an artist. Both of their work is featured at the restaurant, along with other local art.