WALLA WALLA -- The owners of two of downtown's most prominent restaurants are changing directions and splitting the businesses.
Restaurateurs Tom Maccarone and Jake Crenshaw will make the change at the start of the year, when Maccarone will become full owner and operator of T. Maccarone's and Crenshaw takes over as full owner and operator of Olive Marketplace and Café and Olive Catering.
In a joint statement, the two said the change will allow them to give more individual attention to the businesses they've built together.
"We are very excited to make this announcement," Maccarone said in a release. "Our partnership has been a very successful one and splitting the businesses will allow us both to focus on the thing we hold most dear."
Added Crenshaw: "Building these restaurants with Tom has been an incredible learning experience and I am ready to take the lead and focus my energy on Olive Marketplace and Café and Olive Catering."
Employees at each business were expected to be told of the announcement Tuesday.
Both eateries are expected to retain the focus on sustainable, local and handmade food for which they're known.
The partnership was originally born through T. Maccarone's. Maccarone was originally looking for an executive chef for the restaurant, promising a potential partnership down the road when he advertised online. Crenshaw was just the partner he was looking for.
Now in its seventh year, T. Maccarone's is just one piece in a bigger puzzle for the duo. Their partnership expanded in 2011 when they re-opened the former Merchants Ltd. delicatessen as Olive. Catering service has also grown, and this year Maccarone and Crenshaw also embarked on further expansion with catering service and future cafe plans at Basel Cellars.
The rapid growth has stretched the owners thin.
"I think that's what it really comes down to," Maccarone said.
The change Jan. 1 will be a return of sorts to his original goal with the opening of his Italian restaurant T. Maccarone's, 4 N. Colville St. Maccarone said he plans to re-examine the menu and price structure.
He said the kitchen will continue to be led by chefs Preston Crowe and Jerry Meza.
Olive will continue with Jose Meza and Sarah German at the helm in the kitchen.