This is a good article. Click here for more information.

Country Bill's

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Country Bill's
Country Bill's Restaurant, 2009.jpg
Restaurant signage in 2009
Country Bill's is located in Portland, Oregon
Country Bill's
Location in Portland, Oregon
Restaurant information
Established 1964 (1964)
Closed September 15, 2012 (2012-09-15)
Food type American
Dress code Casual[1]
Street address 4415 SE Woodstock
City Portland
County Multnomah
State Oregon
Postal code/ZIP 97206
Country United States
Reservations No

Country Bill's Restaurant was a family-owned American-style steakhouse and seafood restaurant located in the Woodstock neighborhood of southeast Portland, Oregon, in the United States. Adjacent to the restaurant was a bar known as CB's Lounge. The restaurant opened in 1964 when ownership transferred from Bill Blake to Ron Thomas' family. Though Thomas was not particularly fond of the business' name, established by Blake in 1960, he was unable to afford new signage and kept the lounge's title. Over time the restaurant grew from a hamburger stand into a family dining restaurant, expanding from one space to four. In 1978, the family purchased the building and property following the landlord's death.

Eventually, Thomas transferred the business to one of his two sons, Craig. Craig and his wife decided to retire in 2011 and none of their children wanted to continue operating the restaurant. The business and the 5,300-square-foot (490 m2) building were listed for sale in February 2011. Country Bill's closed in September 2012 after 48 years of operation. The restaurant had low staff turnover and dedicated patrons, hundreds of whom visited during its final days. Country Bill's was also known for its Brat Pack era decor, including red clamshell booths, mood lighting supplied by electric candles, metallic wallpaper and wood paneling. Following closure, the building underwent interior and exterior renovation to make spaces available for new tenants.

History[edit]

Country Bill's Restaurant opened in 1964 after Ron Thomas' family purchased the business from Bill Blake for $600.[1][2] Blake had named his lounge Country Bill's in 1960 but the business was unsuccessful.[1][2] Thomas had been in the food service industry in Utah previously and ended up living in Portland after a series of relocations with his family.[1] Though he was not particularly fond of the lounge's name, Thomas was unable to afford new signage and kept the title.[2] Over time the restaurant grew from a hamburger stand into a family dining restaurant, expanding east from one space to four.[2] In 1978, the family purchased the building and property following the death of their landlord.[1]

Ownership stayed within the family, eventually transferring to Craig Thomas (one of Ron's two sons, both of whom worked in the restaurant for numerous years).[1][2] Craig Thomas and his wife decided to retire in 2011 and none of their children wanted to continue operating the restaurant.[2][3] In February 2011, Country Bill's and the 5,300-square-foot (490 m2) building were listed for sale for $975,000.[2][4] The restaurant closed on September 15, 2012 after 48 years of operation.[1][3][5] Hundreds of customers, some from as far away as Europe, visited the restaurant during its final days.[1]

A stone and brick building with a white sign that reads "Country Bill's Restaurant" and "Cocktails" in red neon lighting, then "Steaks" and "Seafood" in black text, followed by "Parking in Rear" in red text
The restaurant in August 2012, one month prior to closing

Following the restaurant's closing, in 2012, the building underwent interior and exterior renovation, resulting in two spaces for future tenants (one of which has been confirmed as a dental office).[6][7][8]

Description and reception[edit]

Country Bill's served American food, originally serving as a hamburger stand, before becoming a steakhouse and seafood restaurant.[2] The menu included prime rib, razor clams and steelhead; all meals were accompanied by soup or salad and a potato as sides.[9] Slot machines were available onsite but the business made 70 percent of its income from food.[1] Adjacent to the restaurant was a bar reminiscent of the Brat Pack era called CB's Lounge.[10]

In his review for Willamette Week, Ben Waterhouse asserted that the restaurant had changed little since the year of its establishment. Waterhouse stated "time travel" was Country Bill's form of entertainment, noting its red vinyl booths, wood paneling and "white-haired" clientele.[11] He recommended ordering beer or spirits (specifically, Anchor Steam) as opposed to cocktails, finding them to contain too much sugar.[11] Mix magazine reviewed Country Bill's as one of "five vintage restaurants that have stood the test of time".[9] In his review, Michael Russell described CB's Lounge's red clamshell booths, electric candles and the servers "who alternate between alarmingly fresh-faced and downright sassy".[9][10] Russell recommended the hand cut garlic French fries and deep fried cheesecake, which he described as "country-fair gluttony incarnate".[9] The Portland Mercury also described the restaurant's retro features such as the plush red booths, mood lighting and metallic wallpaper.[12] The publication also noted the older waiting staff.[12]

Country Bill's was known for its low staff turnover and dedicated patrons.[1][13] According to Craig Thomas, the family's formula for a success included a hard work ethic, loyal staff and a "common sense approach" to business.[1] The cook worked for the restaurant for 43 years, starting at age 16.[3][14] Longtime customers and employees reportedly felt its closing was "almost like losing a family member".[3][14] The Oregonian wrote about Country Bill's last days in articles about local restaurant and economic news, noting the business' longevity.[15][16]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k Ashton, David F. (October 3, 2012). "Country Bills: Woodstock's legendary restaurant shuttered". The Bee 107 (2) (Portland, Oregon: Pamplin Media Group). pp. 16–17. Retrieved October 6, 2012. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h Spencer, Aaron (August 29, 2011). "Country Bill's Restaurant for sale in Woodstock". Daily Journal of Commerce (Portland, Oregon: The Dolan Company). Retrieved October 6, 2012. 
  3. ^ a b c d Havrelly, Wayne (September 16, 2012). "Country Bill's closes its doors after 48 years". Portland, Oregon: KGW. Retrieved October 6, 2012. 
  4. ^ Waterhouse, Ben (February 25, 2011). "Country Bill's Restaurant For Sale". Willamette Week (Portland, Oregon: City of Roses Newspapers). Retrieved October 6, 2012. 
  5. ^ Beaven, Steve (September 13, 2012). "Country Bill's, Renovo Hardwood Bicycles and Equinox: Your Southeast Portland news update". The Oregonian (Portland, Oregon: Advance Publications). ISSN 8750-1317. Retrieved October 6, 2012. 
  6. ^ "Issued Commercial Building Permits" (PDF). City of Portland. September 7, 2012. p. 4. Retrieved October 8, 2012. 
  7. ^ "Commercial Building Permit Intakes" (PDF). City of Portland. September 16, 2012. p. 4. Retrieved October 8, 2012. 
  8. ^ "Issued Commercial Building Permits" (PDF). City of Portland. October 1, 2012. p. 1. Retrieved October 8, 2012. 
  9. ^ a b c d Russell, Michael (March 2012). "Five vintage restaurants that have stood the test of time". Mix (Portland, Oregon). Retrieved October 6, 2012. 
  10. ^ a b Russell, Michael (September 12, 2012). "Country Bill's steakhouse closing Saturday". The Oregonian (Portland, Oregon: Advance Publications). ISSN 8750-1317. Retrieved October 6, 2012. 
  11. ^ a b Waterhouse, Ben (May 26, 2012). "Drink 2010". Willamette Week (Portland, Oregon: City of Roses Newspapers). Retrieved October 6, 2012. 
  12. ^ a b "Country Bill's Restaurant & Lounge". The Portland Mercury (Portland, Oregon: Index Publishing). Retrieved October 6, 2012. 
  13. ^ Chandler, John (August 21, 2012). "I Need Money! Country Bill's is for sale? I want it!". Portland Monthly (Portland, Oregon). ISSN 1546-2765. Retrieved October 8, 2012. 
  14. ^ a b "Country Bill's in Portland closes after 48 years". Portland, Oregon: KGW. September 15, 2012. Retrieved October 6, 2012. 
  15. ^ Russell, Michael (September 13, 2012). "Thursday morning restaurant roundup: Romano's Macaroni Grill closes, McDonald's counts calories, Czech craft beer booms". The Oregonian (Portland, Oregon: Advance Publications). ISSN 8750-1317. Retrieved October 6, 2012. 
  16. ^ Young, Molly (September 15, 2012). "The Warrior Room opens and Pearl Trading Co. closes: Portland-area economy roundup". The Oregonian (Portland, Oregon: Advance Publications). ISSN 8750-1317. Retrieved October 6, 2012. 

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 45°28′45.49″N 122°37′00.40″W / 45.4793028°N 122.6167778°W / 45.4793028; -122.6167778