Kevin and Alex are opening a new restaurant in downtown Washougal. I got a chance to ask them a few questions about the new venture. Here is what they had to say.
Why did you pick Washougal for your new restaurant?
While living in Portland, we started searching for the right neighborhood to open OurBar. We soon discovered that most neighborhoods already had an existing “OurBar” concept (cozy hangout with homemade food & local beer) or were years away from the community development needed to sustain small businesses. Washougal is an emerging community with great local energy and support from Lone Wolf (a prominent Washougal developer). We love the gorge lifestyle, and close proximity to Portland as well.
What type of food are you looking to offer?
Craveable comfort food made from scratch. Think: Grandma’s recipes, updated. We want the food to be rich and delicious but portioned just right to keep the price point low and people coming back for more. We will serve select beer and wine to compliment the food and flavors of the region. We also will be bringing a comprehensive coffee program to downtown.
What type of customer are you looking to attract?
Our main goal is to provide an accessible, tasty hangout for Washougal residents. The seating will be varied, featuring a large communal table, intimate bar seats, coffee counter facing Main Street and small tables built for two. We hope to provide a comfortable dining experience for all service periods; business meetings at the communal table, coffee and newspaper at the window, intimate lunch with a friend or beer and a chat at the bar. In the sunny months, OurBar will be a destination for eco-tourists, hikers, river lovers and curious culinarians from the Portland / Vancouver area.
What are your backgrounds and what motivated you both to start this restaurant?
Kevin started his career in the kitchen, and is a self-taught cook establishing himself as a leader in kitchen management and operations over the past 10 years. In addition to his love of food and food service, Kevin has spent years behind cafe counters and bars serving up his own brand of relaxed hospitality. Kevin moved to Portland, OR in 2003 and found himself immediately immersed in the world of beer. He is an avid beverage historian and believes in continuing the storytelling tradition of beer’s rich evolution and the community it creates; and while beer culture stands front and center for Kevin, his own quest for delicious coffee has developed into a wonderful passion all its own.
Alex’s life has been devoted to food from the moment she ate her first strawberry. Growing up in Seattle, she had local access to a flourishing food community. Her Sunday mornings traditionally spent at Pike Place Market, eating tiny doughnuts and people-watching. Alex is a graduate of Oregon Culinary Institute and has worked in kitchens from Portland to Boulder and San Francisco. Alex is a cookbook connoisseur, inspired by generations of exceptional chefs before her. She invests a depth of flavor into her food while still respecting the beauty of simplicity. Alex cooks with precision, joy and generosity.
We both take great pride in our ability to provide excellent service, friendly and informative. We create food that tells a story, this shared passion is what brought the two of us together and has led us to OurBar.
Why Our Bar?
The name OurBar came from conversations about meals and beers we have shared over the years. Every time we went out to a new restaurant or bar we would have a critique session after, saying “I loved how they did this or that but when we open our bar we should do it this way”. We continued our research and critique for three years and before we knew it, OurBar had hatched. We chose the wishbone logo to evoke shared food memories, like the tradition of breaking the wishbone after a satisfying meal.
We want customers to feel a connection to OurBar. We feel the name conveys a sense of familiarity.
Is it just you two or are there others involved?
There are many people that make up our support group: friends, family and restaurant industry veterans, but OurBar will be run by the two of us. A mutual friend will be coming down from Seattle (where he is an accomplished chef and natural green thumb) to help advise us on converting our front yard into an urban farm. We plan to grow cut flowers, fruit, veggies and herbs for the restaurant.
When are you looking to open?
Construction started this month and we are hoping to be open to the public by late March, early April.
Where exactly is it going to be located?
Downtown Washougal! On the corner of 19th and Main (1887 Main Street, Suite E).
What hours will you be open?
We will be closed Mondays, open Tues – Sun for breakfast from 7am to 11am and lunch 11am to 3pm. Fri – Sun happy hour 3pm – 6pm. This summer, we will open for dinner Thurs – Sun.
Can you share some of the dishes you are looking to offer?
Biscuits & gravy, clam chowder, French onion soup, pork chile verde, breakfast bars (granola goodness without the wrapper), happy hour burger, house-made pastas, breads and baked goods, braised short ribs (for the colder months) and fresh seafood as it becomes available. All the food we love to eat.
We hope to partner with local farmers, allowing us to change the menu frequently while representing the region in its culinary abundance. (We also love string cheese and are determined to figure out how to make our own.)
What will be the general cost of your food?
Breakfast & lunch items vary between $2 for a pastry or savory baked goodie to about $10 for an entree.
Where do you both live?
We relocated from Portland to Washougal in December to immerse ourselves in the gorge life and get to know our neighbors and future customers.