Restaurant Closings Update – Bend Oregon

2009/01/16

Bend Oregon Restaurant Closings

It doesn’t look good for Bend restaurants right now and there doesn’t seem like there is good news on the horizon. Maybe the restaurants are praying that Obama can work some magic on the economy. I don’t have any answers. But I keep getting asked for an update on my earlier restaurant closings post.

I have had a very busy week setting up my Facebook Profile and Twitter (please “Friend” me and/or Follow me) amongst other projects that I’m working on. Anyway, if there are additional closings that I don’t mention, feel free to comment or email me and I’ll add them.

But first, in December I received an email from a concerned waitress looking for work here in Bend. Here’s a portion of that email:

“In my hunt to make myself known in my job hunt, I made friends with a local restaurant owner. He very recently had to shut his doors for a few months. A few days later Volo did too. I was wondering if there was anything we could do to raise people’s awareness in the community about supporting our local restaurants and the possibility of losing them if we don’t?”

I found this email odd as this person is wanting to support local restaurants but mentions (obviously) Fireside and Volo. What makes a restaurant local? I think what the emailer meant to say is that we need to support the non-chain restaurants. Cause Fireside Red’s owners are from Vegas (from what I understand) and Chris Jones was from Montana with a head chef from NY. Both of these restaurants opened and closed during 2008. Would Merenda and Deep count as local? Am I considered a local even though I wasn’t born in Bend? If we stick to only true local restaurants, what would our options be? Jake’s Diner? I’m sure Lyle wouldn’t mind one bit.

In my mind, good food is good food. I don’t care where you’re from or what your background is. If you can serve up a mean steak, then I like you. The idea of supporting local restaurants doesn’t make sense to me. We all work hard for our money and should be free to spend it wherever we like. If you like subway, go for it and live happy. I am going to continue to visit restaurants that I like and will hope that the good ones stay in business. Good luck to you restaurant owners.

Restaurant closings since my last update:

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Deep

I’m sad to see Deep go even though I was only able to eat there a few times. Every time we stepped foot in there we would drop at least a bill ($100) and leave hungry. The food was great and I loved the 9 bites but man, that place hurt my wallet.

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Merenda

I didn’t eat at Merenda very often at all. The wife and I had a nice dinner there and never had a problem with service. I’m not sure why Merenda didn’t make the rotation for us on a more regular basis. I LOVED the happy hour and really enjoyed the complimentary flat bread and and roasted garlic.

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Volo

Volo revamped their menu to make it more affordable but I didn’t even get a chance to go back in there before the doors were closed. Rumors were flying that the owner took all the wine and computers and bolted. Then it’s rumored that he was forced by the banks to come back. I don’t know what’s going on but I did enjoy the food while they were open.

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Fireside Red

Supposedly Fireside Red is only closed for the winter. We’ll see.

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Village Grill

I enjoyed going to the Village Grill on Sunday mornings for some screwdrivers and the $5 breakfast buffet. I have no idea how 7 is doing as I haven’t made it in there to sample the goods.

Restaurants that are still closed from the previous post:

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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.

{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

Jen F January 16, 2009 at 7:12 pm

Sparrow Bakery is also on hiatus until the beginning of February. Hopefully they will be back in time for me to pick up a Valentine’s Day pastry for the RHPB.

Reply

Keeneye January 17, 2009 at 12:39 am

My favorite quote of this post: “My favorite parts of the meal was the salad, bread, and water.”

Sounds like my latest pen-pal residing at Oregon State Penitentiary. (heh heh)

Seriously, though, I agree with your remark that good food is good food.

I, personally, wouldn’t spend ten-dollars more for dish soap just because it was sold “locally” if I could buy it at a big-box store for ten-dollars less. Soap is soap. $10 bucks is earned, not thrown at me like a dancer at Starz.

Yet, I would pay ten-dollars more for a steak at a local restaurant if the quality was worth ten-dollars more than a big-box/chain restaurant.

Good food is good food.

As a small-business & local restaurant owner in a small town, I rely on quality to sell our food vs. the chain restaurants.

I know when I have a potential customer at the counter ask "What's your best deal?" or call and say "Do you have any coupons right now?" that they are looking for mass quantity, not quality.

Yet… Good food is good food.

Reply

Lyle January 17, 2009 at 6:04 am

You’re right. I wouldn’t mind at all.

And I agree with Kina. The answer to compete is to try give your best.

The best quality and the best service for a reasonable price. And appriciate every person that comes in your door. They are not there for you. You are there for them.

If I find a waitstaff being more concerned about the tip on the table than the person eating the food or a cook who doesn’t show care in how he presents his plate, they will be held accountable.

If they don’t change, one way or another they will no longer be with us.

A couple of people have asked me if I was happy that some of the others had gone under and I countered quickly with a resounding “No”. I know how hard it is and I don’t wish anyone to go down.

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Peter January 18, 2009 at 3:13 am

I was in Bend last week for a day and had been dreaming of a proper Sparrow breakfast for months beforehand. Having to settle for their ocean rolls (still delicious) at Backporch (also still delicious) just didn’t quite do it for me. I know Sparrow’s owners from my college days and I can only hope they’ll be back with a vengeance… and open the next time I’m in town. Big sigh.

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Steve May 4, 2009 at 6:41 pm

I’m sad about all of the restaurant closings in Bend. Thanks for the writeup though.

Just a note about local business. Yes, it can be hard to define what makes something local and yes the quality of that business is what should make or break it. One unfortunate fact is that those small, one-of-a-kind places don’t always have deep pockets the way franchises do which means that it’s a lot easier for them to disappear. It’s as much about cashflow as it is about the quality of the food. Bend is lucky to have so many unique places. and supporting them can only help keep them around.

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