Wickedpissahchowdah is back and hotter than ever
MILFORD – For the new owners of Wickedpissahchowdah, located at 20 South St., reopening this stalwart soup and beyond company was a no-brainer.
Sue Poulin and Lisa Gamache have been friends for a long time, and now they’ve added business proprietors to their titles.
Technically speaking, as stated on their business cards, Poulin is the “Soup Savant,” while Gamache is the “Soup Sorcerer.”
Since opening in Sept. 2020 smack dab in the middle of the pandemic, it’s been smooth sailing, or smooth souping as it were. The idea for buying the business from the previous owner was Poulin’s.
“We both jumped out of the corporate world to do this,” Poulin said. “I jumped ship in December 2019, and was kind of dabbling with other things, and this opportunity came around in June 2019. The previous owner moved to the Cape and offered the business.”
As soon as the two women walked through the door of the eatery, they knew they had something good.
“Turnkey-profitable,” Gamache said with enthusiasm. “All we had to do was make the soup.”
Gamache and Poulin said Lisa is the spicy one, while Sue is the sweeter one.
“I make the jambalaya,” Gamache said. “And Sue is usually the one adding the sweet sauce.”
WPC was a natural fit for the duo, which did and didn’t necessarily come as a shock to either of them.
“I was the executive assistant to a C.O.O, three VPs, had my finger on the pulse of 360 people, event planning, and travel,” Gamache said. “I loved my job. And then COVID-19 hit and I kept reading the bad news in the paper. It was getting uglier and uglier. And I thought, ‘How can I retire like this?'”
Gamache said the signs were everywhere for her to make a move. And then Poulin said to her friend, “Come on. You’re coming with me.”
The women toured the mostly take-out restaurant, and with a little faith, they knew they had stumbled onto a goldmine.
“Reinventing yourself in the middle of a pandemic,” Gamache said. “If anybody ever told me five years ago that right now I’d be owning a chowder business, I would think they were nuts.”
“This is a great business plan for this time of year,” Poulin said. “Or with what’s happening with the pandemic.”
Gamache said take-out is the perfect fit for the COVID climate: Delicious soups and chowders to go.
“We’re about 90 percent and above for take-out,” Poulin said. “Grab and go.”
Word of mouth traveled fast, as folks who love soup quickly learned where they could go and began telling their friends.
“Sue’s social media tact is excellent,” Gamache said. “And we also had a lot of the previous owner’s clients that she also gave a shout-out to: ‘WPC is reopening with the girls.'”
Poulin and Gamache make the soups each morning, hours before they open at 11 a.m.
“We had to figure out if we were a lunch place, are we a take-out place? Are we open evenings? What are we going to do?” Poulin noted. “We didn’t want to do too much of the crazy hours.”
“It’s just the two of us,” Gamache continued.
Tuesdays, Fridays and Saturdays, WPC is open 11 a.m – 3 p.m; Wednesdays and Thursdays, 11 a.m. – 5 p.m.; they’re closed on Sunday and Monday.
The job is never done when they close at 3 p.m. (or 5 p.m. for that matter). The women are there cleaning and putting things away for another hour or two after that.
“If we have four burners going, we’re out sooner,” Gamache said. “If we have nine going, we’re going to be here for a while.”
All of the equipment, right down to the spices, were all included when Poulin and Gamache bought the business. Recipes, too.
“It takes knowing your way around the kitchen,” Poulin said. “It’s not a recipe that you would just download and get every step.”
“‘Shoot!’ I’ll say,” Gamache interjects. “‘I made a mistake! But damn that’s good. That mistake is staying!'”
While the eatery enjoys regular customers, Gamache said with everyone masked up, it’s hard to see who they are.
“You can’t wrap your head around who they are,” Gamache said.
“And we do have people who come from farther away,” Poulin said. “Some people from Auburn and Windham and Manchester.”
“We are in the weeds all the time,” Gamache said. “Busy. We want to branch out. We have zero time to really market ourselves.”
Beside their cheery demeanors, bubbly personalities and knack for making great soups and chowders, there is a lot of laughter between these friends.
“This has been great,” Gamache said. “Sue said, ‘Hey, how’s COVID over there in the corporate world? Want to sell some soup?'”
Parking is ample and Poulin said that neighboring businesses, such as Union Coffee and Amigos Cantina are very kind.
“We support each other,” Poulin said. “It’s a tight community.”
The biggest surprise to Gamache and Poulin was that running the business was smooth as it has been.
“We are amazed at how fast we are growing,” Poulin said. “We’re hiring four people. We want to take a step back and work on our marketing. It’s a pretty good spot to be in.”