OROVILLE – Brick Wall, the new owner of Oroville's Hornets Nest, comes by his passion for flipping a good burger honestly. His father owned DJ's, a burger joint located across from Oroville High School, from 1991 to 1995.
“Dad had a love of “what if,” and took on running the restaurant for four or five years,” recalled Wall, adding that was where he got his “first taste” of restaurant work. “It was fun. I was just a young, dumb kid so I prepped for him and after proving myself, learned to cook. We hadn't had anything like that in our family previously, so it was a big learning experience.”
Wall said when the hot lunch program went in at the school, DJ's lost a lot of business and the restaurant closed, taking with it the special seasoning salt and sauce they were known for. Wall is incorporating those recipes in the Hornets Nest.
“It gives it an awesome flavor. That died with DJ's, but any of the old schoolers will remember it,” said Wall, who is bringing back the old DJ's menu. “I want to keep it simple, do it well and keep it consistent.”
Wall said customers being able to rely on consistency applied to both “what they are getting as well as us being here and being open.”
“You have to be faithful,” said Wall. “This being my first year, I will try to stay open throughout the winter and be a place people can count on.”
Wall said the Hornets Nest was closed for eight or nine months before he was able to seize the opportunity to purchase the business and equipment and rent the building from the owner.
“Oroville had the need for a simple burger joint with an affordable menu,” Wall said. “It was time.”
This is the first time Wall, a 12-year 1992 alum from Oroville High School, has owned a business.
“I'm trying to learn business ownership, I didn't have a clue of the behind-the-scenes aspect,” Wall said, “but we gotta have a Hornets Nest.”
Wall said he had “tremendous support from the community,” and his two older sisters, who have been helping his prep cooks.
“They started helping right out the get-go and have been priceless,” said Wall, who has six employees on staff in addition to himself.
Besides burgers, their menu includes salads, nachos, chicken strips, onion rings and a kids' menu.
“I do old school taco salads with the big shell. I don't go too crazy on new age stuff,” said Wall. “I serve a good juicy burger from 30 years ago, with a real, fresh angus patty. I don't use frozen patties like so many do. It's like a good burger should be.”
Wall said one of the suppliers of the beef was from the Republic/Curlew area and the second supplier was also from eastern Washington.
Wall lives in Oroville with his wife Gale and their three kids.
The restaurant is open Tuesday through Sunday from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m., though Wall said he would soon be rotating to winter hours and probably be closing at 7 p.m.
The restaurant has outdoor seating in the summer.
“We are here for the community and will see where it goes,” said Wall. “Go Hornets.”