Actor Chris O’Dowd was searching for a restaurant and happened to stop by Wild Park Slope at 148 Fifth Avenue, right in the heart of one of Brooklyn’s most buzzed-about neighborhoods.
The restaurant had only been open a short time when O’Dowd, who starred in “Bridesmaids” and recently appeared in the critically acclaimed film “Mary Poppins Returns,” discovered it according to owner Marina Charny. “Within weeks of opening, he was one of our first customers,” she recalled.
“He forgot his credit card and we had to have our server (an aspiring actor himself) tweet at him in an attempt to get it back to him,” Charny recalled. “He actually responded and we were able to return the card. Not only that, but our server scored a special audition as a thank you, and since then Mr. O’Dowd has been a fan and a repeat customer!”
There’s a reason O’Dowd and so many others have been flocking to Wild Park Slope. For one thing, it’s the only 100 percent gluten-free restaurant in the borough.
And there’s an incredible story about how the restaurant came to be.
“I had been working in PR and marketing and was feeling frustrated,” said Charny, a former press representative, who told this paper, “This restaurant came about through a combination of hard work, a crazy idea and a touch of impulsiveness.
“The PR industry had changed so much as everything became more and more digitized and I couldn’t help feeling that my job was becoming outdated,” she said. “I wanted to do something new and different and challenging, and above all, I wanted to be my own boss.”
Charny, who labels herself a “foodie,” wanted to be part of the food industry. She discovered a Manhattan restaurant called WILD that helped motivate her to open her own business. “The concept was simple — 100 percent gluten-free, farm-to-table, delectable comfort food like pizza and pasta that was made with the freshest ingredients possible sourced from local farms,” she explained.
“As a Brooklyn girl at heart, I instantly thought that we needed a place just like this and we needed it in Park Slope, a home to families and health-conscious millennials alike,” Charny said. “And the best part? They had just opened themselves up to franchise opportunities.”
Charny calls her new endeavor an adventure and a fun challenge after a career in PR and writing. “The restaurant and I have grown together,” she said. “Over time, I’ve come to know and love every nook and cranny, and I’ve played every role: from server to dishwasher to delivery person. I’ve never asked someone to do something I wouldn’t do or haven’t done myself.”
Since opening, Wild Park Slope has been awarded the Diners’ Choice Award by OpenTable year after year, an award that means a great deal to Charny because it’s voted on by her customers.
The restaurant was also chosen as the best gluten-free restaurant in New York (beating out their Manhattan location) by Yelp, and it has received accolades from a number of websites and publications including but not limited to Eater, PureWow, New York Magazine, the Infatuation, Elle and the Food Network!
And it’s certainly worth stopping by to see if you can spot Chris O’Dowd — who spent time in Brooklyn while starring on “Girls” — or any number of other actors who think of Wild Park Slope as their home away from home.