Thursday, November 30, 2006

Dory Cove fire: Family-owned restaurant will be missed

A unique, family-owned restaurant at Lincoln City, Ore. was destroyed by fire last night. Fortunately, no one was injured when the Dory Cove Restaurant burned down.

According to a Statesman Journal story, the fire started near 10 p.m. on Nov. 29, then flared up a couple more times through the night.

Dory Cove Restaurant was along Roads End, and was a popular place for people to get seafood after visiting the nearby beach. Often there were line-ups of people waiting to get in.

While tourists enjoyed it, the place was popular with the local people because of its large portions of good food and family atmosphere.

The restaurant wasn’t fancy, but down-to-earth with artwork and knickknacks of an ocean theme. What made the place was the family who owned and operated it for more than three decades. Roy Johnson wrote on the restaurant’s website about how he and his family ended up with the place in the early 1970s after he retired from the Air Force and they moved from California to Lincoln City. He had been encouraged to go into the business by Dr. Neal, an officer from the Beale Air Force Base in California who had property at Lincoln City near the current location of the restaurant.

“Living on the Oregon Coast was an answer to my dream of living in a place that I loved dearly and was a good family area. Although I had never operated or worked in a restaurant I felt that I had to give it a try,” Johnson wrote.

Many people probably know the restaurant best for its clam chowder, which earned it to become one of the most popular places in the Northwest. It was especially popular for the customers who may have come from cool, windy walks along the ocean shores nearby at this time of year.

However, Johnson admitted that when he first opened the restaurant, “I had never made Clam Chowder but I knew it was popular. Having made other types of Chowder I determined that I should follow the same method. The first pot I made was considered very good by those who tried it. I often said the Good Lord was smiling on me...”

The clam chowder was better than good. And with pride Johnson wrote about the restaurant, “It has also been picked as one of the Northwest’s best places to eat for several years in a row and Governor McCall frequented us often because he loved our burgers!”

The Johnson and Neal families were both involved in the restaurant through the years, and many summer students found jobs at the restaurant during the busy summer months.

But it was the families that owned and worked in the place that influenced why customers kept coming back and encouraging more business by word-of-mouth since it first opened on July 1, 1973.

It was their familiar faces that greeted people and made people feel welcome. For example at Halloween they’d take the extra time to talk to the children about their outfits before handing out candy.

It was the type of place rural people would appreciate, especially at a time when so many restaurants are chain-owned.

Dory Cove felt like a small town business, and people appreciated and adopted the place as almost a second home, whether they went for the comfort of clam chowder or a hot cup of coffee.

Hopefully the community now will return to comfort the owners and staff of Dory Cove.

Dory Cove Restaurant

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KJM said...

I too will miss Dory Cove. I am not a local and live nearer to Portland. When I heard the news I almost cried. Our trips to the coast will never be the same. A rueben at Dory Cove was always a must on our list of things to do.
I'm hoping they rebuild.

Scott said...

I have many years of experiences there with my family and especially with my grandfather. As a child (I'm now 29) I best remember the fish tanks.

I had such fond memories about the chowder, the fish, and my grandfather letting me put my cold hands around his coffee cup.

I was so nostalgic that when I had discovered that they were changing out their brown coffee mugs, I asked for a set. They obliged and I bought them. I now have 8 of those brown mugs.

I'll fill one with coffee tonight and pour it out on the ground in memory of Dory Cove.

I hope they rebuild so I can begin memories with my new family.

christina said...

This is the most devastating news I've heard all year.

The Dory Cove was my favorite restaurant in the world, and I have driven to Lincoln City all the way from Portland many times, just to eat there and come back home. The food was unbelievably good, the atmosphere warm and comforting, and the staff always friendly.

Lincoln City, the Oregon Coast, and my world will never be the same again.

Elaine Shein said...

In a story in the Lincoln newspaper, the family said they weren't sure yet whether they will rebuild, but I hope they do. It would be a pity if houses took over that spot.
The story said that the restaurant has already received more than 100 email messages of people saying how sorry they are and how much they'll miss the place. (I think the email address is the one on the restaurant's website, )
Maybe if enough people say they miss the place, the family will consider bringing it back in some form.
Scott, I think it's great you got a set of their coffee mugs. I got a Mo's mug to remind me of Lincoln City... but that's just not the same.

Anonymous said...

It's really too bad they couldn't get enough restaurant funding to stay open. They will be sorely missed.

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