Restaurant Closings – Bend Oregon

2008/07/28

Bend Oregon Restaurant Closings

Restaurants in Bend Oregon are closing, most blame economy, I blame bad food and service. There are too many restaurants in Bend serving up shiite. Is a little thinning of the herd what the restaurant industry in Bend needs? There are great restaurants in Bend and I feel bad that most are struggling but is the economy the only thing to blame? How about the fact that we have/had about 290 restaurants in Bend and only about 100 of them are any good? I mean the Source did their restaurant guide of the top 100 restaurants and it seemed like a stretch to get to 100.

How about restaurants serve up great food and separate themselves from the heard? We don’t need another Mexican restaurant, we’re good on fast food, we don’t need another brew/pub/sports/bar. What we need is for the food and service at our current restaurants to be amazing. Can’t restaurants focus on their strengths, adapt, improve their weaknesses, and overcome? I’ve thinned my list of restaurants I rotate through, cutting out the restaurants that haven’t changed, that have poor service, that are overpriced for what you get. I want the best meal for my money.

All of the reports I’ve heard about the restaurant closings mention the poor economy. When was the economy really that good? The job market in Bend sucked 3 years ago and it still sucks today. That didn’t stop new restaurants from opening. I mean the real estate market in Bend obviously blew up and then blew out but was that the only thing that was keeping these restaurants open? Was it all the successful realtors, mortgage brokers, and builders keeping the restaurants afloat? I don’t have any of the answers. I just know that there are restaurants in Bend that have gotten away with poor quality and service for a long time and am shocked that some are still open.

Pepe’s was a loss but there are plenty of Mexican restaurants to choose from. The others, I’m not so sure are going to be missed. Don’t get me wrong, I feel bad for the owners and the employees that are losing their business and jobs. That sucks ass. I feel bad for anyone that owns a restaurant right now. I’m just saying that I don’t think it’s JUST the economy to blame.

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In an exception to the above comments, 38 Degrees appears to be closed. I can’t seem to get the official word but I’ve driven by a couple of times when they should have been open and they were not. That’s sad, I really liked the sangria flights. Their tuna was always great and I loved their clams and chorizo (when the chorizo was not dried out). Instead of just blaming the economy on this one, it could be that 38 Degrees really didn’t have the best location. Could be a combo of things but their food and service were good.


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Kayo’s Roadhouse in Bend and Redmond has closed. A reliable source shot me an email and was able to find the Z21 news story to confirm that in fact Kayo’s is done. The news article mentions that Kayo’s is probably best known for the buckets of peanuts and the shells on the floor. I never got around to writing my review of the one trip I made it over to the East side for dinner at Kayo’s, but it would have focused on the same point.

The food was bland. We tried the appetizer sampler which was a cut bomb of overcooked chicken wings, huge potato skins covered in cheddar, mozzarella sticks, and spring rolls. We totally should have waited to order our dinners until after the appetizer. After sampling the appetizers, we weren’t really hungry.

I had the bacon burger which was overcooked and the Kraft singles slice of American was tough to wash down even with my huge beer. The wife got the ribs which were some of the worst we’ve tried. We ended up taking a bunch of left overs but ended up throwing them out as they stayed in the fridge way too long.

I never got to the Kayo’s review as all of the photos came out way too dark. I couldn’t get a good photo but trust me, there wasn’t a way to get a “good” photo out of what was on our plates. Great peanuts and really cold beer are the best parts of Kayo’s.

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Ernesto’s closed their doors. I didn’t post my review of Ernesto’s before I heard of their closing. I had visited for lunch as a dare about a week before the news of their closing was announced.

A friend and I went to Ernesto’s for lunch. After reviewing the menu we both decided on getting the buffet which consisted of soup and salad bar, pasta with a choice of three sauces, pizza, some sort of chicken dish, and then the special of the day. I think it was a Wednesday and prime rib was the special.

I decided to try all three pasta sauces, tomato, pesto, and Alfredo. In order from left to right, or right to left, or mix matched (doesn’t matter really) they were blah, blehk, and boring. I also tried a slice of the pizza which looked really dried out but tasted ok. Old pork is still good pork in my mind. I just call it aged and be done with it…until I’m running to the restroom in the middle of the night. Damn you aged pizza!

The prime rib was a waste of time. I got a couple of good bites out of it. My favorite parts of the meal was the salad, bread, and water. Actually, the soup was pretty good. They had the normal minestrone soup out front but the waitress told me about the specialty soup of the day in the back, chicken pesto. It was rather good.

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Pepe’s Restaurant moved back to Madras. “I’m going back to Madras, to Madras, to Madras, I’m going back to Madras, no, I don’t think so.” Could you imagine if LL Cool J lived in Central Oregon? No, I don’t think so.

I wrote up my review of Pepe’s Restaurant and am actually sad about this restaurant leaving. I really liked going to Pepe’s. I went up to Portland for the International Beer Fest and saw that Pepe’s has a restaurant right on the main strip in Madras.

{ 12 comments… read them below or add one }

monkeyinabox July 23, 2008 at 5:54 pm

Only you can pull out a LL Cool J reference and make it work for a Mexican restaurant moving back to Madras. 😉 Bravo!

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Eliz July 23, 2008 at 8:45 pm

Maybe you could do us new Bendites a favor and list those restaurants that are not worth a try? Or, if that isn’t kosher (notice the food reference) list the 100 that are? I really like your BLOG and I refer to it before trying anything new here in town. Have you heard any details on the new sushi place (Mio Sushi) that is supposed to open this month in the Cascade Village Shopping Center? We are looking forward to trying it.

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squirrel July 24, 2008 at 5:10 am

ok, it’s been a long while since your last restaurant post, i religiously check your blog and think that flatbread kitchen has been up for about 6 months- restaurant years, so therefore i deem you a litmus test of the vigorous diner and conclude that even the foodies are holding on to their almighty dollar… i do know that the thinning of the restaurant herd is in full swing and thank heavens some of the ‘wouldn’t it be so fun to have a restaurant, in it for the short term until dad’s money disappears- wannabe’s are gleaned’, i do also know that some of your favorite big bulls are right this minute breathing down the neck of the deserters and it is every diners’ responsibility to avoid the the dismal choice of ‘red robin oroutback tonight’ by supporting your favorite haunt. cost of food is up 30%, you get a fuel surcharge on your fuel, your tomatoes might kill someone…everyone wanted more but now we have it, we have to make sure the good ones stay.

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Bend Oregon Restaurants July 24, 2008 at 5:32 am

I put that in there just for you Monkey. I know you have the LL Cool J cassette tape stuck in your walkman.

Squirrel, I have not posted in a while as my profession keeps me hella busy right now. I haven’t had the time to write. However, I have still been going out to eat as I’m addicted to it. Kona Mixed Plate, Taco Del Mar, El Caporal, the breweries, Toomies, are some of favorite places for a quite and affordable bite.

I’ll try to get back on the postings for my loyal fans like yourself. Support the sponsors!

-BOR

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Jen F July 24, 2008 at 4:26 pm

Heh, at the Elks game the other night they were giving away $5 gift certificates for Kayo’s. Guess now I know what to do with that piece of paper.

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Anonymous July 24, 2008 at 10:53 pm

So right you are – a little thinning of the herd is needed and was bound to happen regardless of the national economy or Bend’s housing prices. Let’s just hope the crap-corporates don’t squeeze out the locals,

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Lyle July 25, 2008 at 4:57 am

Funny you should bring up James (LL Cool J). He actually ate at Jake’s back in the 90’s. He didnt go away a happy camper, however. We were selling a three piece chicken back then and he wanted more but only wanted a breast. I probably would have given it to him had I been there but my kitchen manager at the time made an on the spot executive decision. Since we had equal parts of all three pieces, he sent word back to his table that we would gladly sell him another set but not just one piece of Breast. The problem happened when a man at a table close to his had a overcooked piece himself. The kitchen quickly sent him a fresh piece of the one that was overcooked which happened to be a breast.

Oh Well.

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Jones July 29, 2008 at 4:26 am

If you don’t believe that it is the economy you are totaly wrong and I wish people would quit giving out incorrect information! There are over 290 eating establishments in bend over 48 in downtown. Absolutely there are some that should go due to bad food or poor service, but most are in trouble right now due to the economy. I own a restaurant and will give you some facts: food prices have gone up 13% since Jan 1, last year they went up 7.5% compared to normal inflation of 4% in other industries. Our utilities have gone up 11% over last year and every invoice has a minimum of a $5 and upto $12 delivery charge, unheard of one year ago. According to my food purveyors sales are down 18% across the board. Beer and wine distributors claim on premise accounts are down over 20%. Deschutes Public House had it’s worst month in history in April according to their G.M. and Chef and another good source said the Pine Tavern was comping 20% or better down since February, two staples in the food biz are suffering from poor economic conditions. Mirenda and Deep are both on COD with all of their purveyors, and took all benefits away as well as lowered EVERY employee to minimum wage with the promise that as business picks up they will return to normal pay. The Source’s top restaurant Marz just laid off two of it’s cooks if only the poor operators were failing good operators like Jody Denton and the owner of Marz would not be taking these steps durring what should be our busiest time. But it’s not just the food biz in trouble all you have to do is drive east on greenwood from bond to the base of Pilot Butte and you will notice 13 empty buildings that used to have a business but now have a “for lease” or “for sale” sign in place of an “open” sign. Or better yet drive from the south end of redmond to the start of the by-pass I counted 11 businesses that have gone away from May 1st till now. Sure some have been due to poor operators but not all of them and there are going to be many more! Expect at least one if not two restaurants a week to close until October. I am not a doomsday’er but I can assure you Bend is in for a long hard winter and I don’t know that many of us can weather another one like last year. I am sure that you won’t post this because I named names but trust me things are going to get worse and the last thing we need right now is negative press from anyone. Do us a favor and write about the good for awhile(not that you don’t or haven’t) because there is going to be a whole lot of bad and having someone talk about the good wouldn’t hurt.

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deadgopher July 30, 2008 at 7:03 pm

My wife got food poisoning from Kayo’s ribs last time we were there. Good riddance.

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Anonymous August 9, 2008 at 11:03 pm

I am on the mgmt team at Merenda and I would like to make a few clarifications; While adjustments have been made, neither Merenda nor Deep has dropped wages down to min. wage and we have never been on c.o.d. with any of our vendors. I think we can all say that this is a rough economy- Bend businesses need our support during these times.

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wrongdude December 16, 2008 at 7:37 am

What about Volo & Fireside Red & that place after the Grove and before the new Lasers place?

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Fof the love of food January 21, 2009 at 11:50 pm

The closures of restaurants is intirely due to to the economy! The economy is bad because of bad GREEDY government officials that keep raising our taxes so they can keep raising thier already over justified wages, property taxes, eployment taxes, gas taxes, They cut our schools, and any thing that will help people so they can increase thier wages, how much more can we take?? Honest people just want to enjoy thier piece of the american dream, Resaurants have been a part of our culture since they started in france in the 1400’s. But Greedy speculatures, government officials are crushing the american dream for everyone, except the very rich, Mom and pop, and other small business owners, BEND over you still got some screwing to get Right Mayor, Governor, and judges?
How much more do you think that the American people are going to take ? DO NOT BE FOOLED WE ARE WATCHING YOU !!!!!

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