Interview: Anthony Velarde at Oishda Sushi
TYG: How did you come to Yachats?
Anthony: I moved to Waldport three years ago from Los Angeles and opened up Rumi [and worked there] for about three years... And then I met Michelle at Ona Restaurant…
TYG: What made you move to Waldport?
Anthony: Well, I had two restaurants back [in Los Angeles], and one of my clients in the restaurant proposed a business plan, that we’d open up a restaurant somewhere in LA… [Later] I sold a restaurant and went to the Philippines, and had a little vacation, and a re-think, and suddenly I got a phone call and an email from the guy that I met in my restaurant, and he said, “Do you want to go to Dubai?”
Anthony: Yeah, and like, “Let’s see some locations over there.” And I thought, wow, this is a great opportunity! But then [I thought] “I’ll just wait a bit….” But they followed up about one in Waldport. And they called me right away, like, “You have to come […] in two weeks because we’re going to open a resort in Waldport.” And I said, “Okay, where’s Waldport?” And they said “Oregon.” I knew Portland, but I’d never been to the coast or anything. So I checked Google, and thought, “Wow, this is a small town! I don’t know if I can do it!” I’d been to the coast of California, pretty much big cities. So I decided to check it out. And I decided to give it a try. I opened the restaurant, and it went well […] and that’s why I ended up in Waldport.
TYG: What exactly is sushi?
Anthony: Well, sushi is fresh fish that you eat over rice. There’s different techniques—rolls, nigiri, sashimi—but pretty much just fish and rice.
TYG: What kinds of products do you serve here besides sushi? I see these containers [indicating several bottles], but I’m not sure exactly what’s in them.
Anthony: That’s pretty much all Japanese alcohol—sake, and some imported beer from Japan. There’s cold sake, and hot sake….
TYG-Editorial Assistant: How did you learn to make sushi?
Anthony: I went to school for culinary training, and it was part of the international cooking section, that we had to make sushi and all that. And also I worked in different restaurants in LA, [including] a Japanese restaurant.
TYG: How’s business been going so far?
Anthony: Well, we’ve been open [since October 18], and we figured we’d just open for this time of year from 12 to 4, and see how it goes. But everybody’s been happy, and everybody loves it. We’ve been asked about opening for dinner, and we’re thinking about that. Everything’s good so far.
TYG: I wish you luck. I think business will continue to get bigger, because you have such popular products!
Anthony: We have this concept—it’s not a big restaurant, we just have a few tables. We’re thinking, you know, the quality. Usually, when you have a big restaurant… the quality of the product is hard to see sometimes. But if it’s just small, you can really concentrate on something… You can oversee right away, and make the best out of it. You know, cook it right, and serve it right, and that’s what’s most important. And it’s hard right now—big restaurants, like a hundred tables, you have to have a lot of employees, you have to make sure you manage it, and control it, it’s a challenge. But if you just want to live in Yachats, nice and quiet, and be peaceful… you can have a little sushi spot.
TYG: This is the perfect location for it. It just has a really good feel to it. Oh there’s a question I’ve been meaning to ask for a long time: Where did the cat-holding-a-lantern symbol come from?
Anthony: Ah, that’s a Japanese symbol—maybe it’s good luck, I’m not really sure. We can check the internet [laughter].
TYG-EA: Where are you from originally?
Anthony: I’m from the Philippines. I came to the United States back in 2000… I wasn’t a chef in the Philippines—I was going to school, went to college for electrical engineering. But I worked part time at some of the restaurants, and I realized that I wanted to become a chef. But I came over here in 2000, and I pursued a career in computer science, and still [I felt like] “Why am I here, why am I not cooking?” I graduated with an Associate of Arts, and I got all my certifications in systems engineering [etc.]—you know, you have to constantly update your certifications, especially in technology, software. So then in 2004 I opened my first business—I’d finished up school, and had all this experience working in retail and restaurants—and I opened a video store, actually, and computer repair, in Los Angeles. I ran the business for like a year and a half, and then I thought, just, like, “I love cooking!” I loved catering for friends and family. So I sold my video store and computer business […] and I went to the Cordon Bleu in Pasadena. And I loved it! I felt like, you know, I can do it. So I finished up school and I went to work in some fine restaurants in LA. I had three jobs, actually—work in the morning, work in the afternoon, and work in the evening, to get all the experience from different chefs. And after a year and a half of experience, I thought, “I can do it,” so I opened my first restaurant, in 2009, in LA.]
TYG-EA: Who are the people who are involved in this restaurant?
Anthony: Well, Jason and me—Jason actually owns the restaurant itself, and I kind of like help him, partnership. I told him about it—I saw this spot, and like, “It’s a good location!” It’s nice, and there’s the wine shop, and it was empty—and I thought at first about making a sandwich shop. There was no kitchen or anything, so I thought it would be good for like, cold—it could be sandwiches, it could be salads—but I thought, “You know what? Everywhere they have salads and sandwiches, but what’s missing in Yachats—what about sushi?” We’re at the coast, and we have fresh fish, and it was perfect! You don’t need a fan, or a big fryer, or a big stove or anything.
TYG: Who do you get your fish from?
Anthony: Pacific Seafood. Everything is sushi grade, and sustainable. We make sure our fish is sustainable, so we know where it’s coming from. And we’re also thinking about Ocean Beauty, getting an account with them.
TYG-EA: Where does the name of the restaurant come from?
Anthony: Oishda? It’s very interesting, actually. “Oishi” in Japanese means “spirit.” And Jason and I are Filipino, and “fish” in the Philippines is “da.” So we mixed them together to mean “good fish,” pretty much. And it sounds kind of like a Japanese name—“Oishda!”
Oishda Sushi is located next to The Wine Place on Highway 101 between 3rd & 4th Streets. Phone: 541-547-4787. Hours: 12-4 Thursday through Sunday.
Interview with Jonathan Oberlander of J. Scott Cellars
J. Scott Cellars and Noble Estate Vineyards Wine Tasting is located just south of the Blue Whale Diner, on Highway 101.
TYG: What is your name and your position in the business? Are you the owner?
Jonathan: I am one of two owners. My name is Jonathan Oberlander, and I own J. Scott Cellars. And then a friend of mine, Mark Jurasevich, owns Noble Estate Cellars. We’re partnering to do a joint tasting room here for our wineries.
TYG: For some reason you only have one name on the business card.
Jonathan: At the moment, yes. I’m still waiting on my licensing. I had to pick up my application form from the Mayor today. It’s now been officially signed off and I brought my signs over and we should be there in hopefully two weeks.
TYG: Great! What is a wine tasting business? It’s interesting! I’m not understanding whether you sell wine, or just tastes of wine.
Jonathan: We do both. We sell some tastes, but wine is a really unique beverage, in that depending on where the grapes are grown the wine has different flavor. It also has a lot of influence on how the wines are made: different winemakers can contribute their influence to the wine as well. So no two wines taste alike, whereas milk is pretty much milk. Wine is very, very different.
TYG: well, the fat does change the flavor a bit—the fat percent.
TYG-Graphic Design: I’m from Switzerland, and believe me, where you pasture the cows makes the milk taste different!
Jonathan: Yes, alfalfa, and what they’re grazing on. But it’s even more dramatic with wine. There are over 10,000 different compounds in wine. We can measure only a few of those. There are a lot of trace minerals, and those all contribute to the flavor and aroma and overall chemistry. So you have to really taste it, in order to know whether you like it. Some people like sweeter, some people like drier; some people like red, some people like white. So that’s why you have tasting rooms, because people don’t want to go buy it if they don’t know what it tastes like. It’s like a candy shop: you go to a candy store, you say “I want to try this, I want to try that,” before you say: “I’ll take a bag of that.” Some people like chocolate, some people don’t.
TYG: Yeah! I, for one, am a chocolate estate master!
Jonathan: I am as well! [laughter]
TYG: Where did you get the idea to do this?
Jonathan: Well… Most wineries have tasting rooms. We don’t have one in Eugene where we make the wine.. But I just like the coast. I just think that wine taste better when you have a nice view. I also like the excuse to come over here because it’s so pretty. So we thought, well, let’s just do a tasting room on the coast so we can work and play at the same time! [laughter]
TYG: Agreed! The coast is a great place. This is a great place to have a business, there are plenty of opportunities. I hear you have a chain of stores. Where are they?
Jonathan: Well, our wineries are both in Eugene. We buy fruit from throughout the state, all the way down to the Rogue Valley along the Oregon-California border. And then Mark has a tasting room at his estate vineyard, and then a separate winery. His winery is near my winery in town, kind of like urban wineries. And I don’t have a tasting room anywhere. So this is kind of like my first tasting room.
TYG-GD: Can you clarify what an estate is?
Jonathan: An estate is where you grow your own grapes. So [Mark] actually has some land and he grows some Pinot Noir there, and then he leases some land where he’s growing some Muscat, which is a nice sweet grape and really aromatic. There’s a development there called The Vineyards. People can buy five acre plots of land, and then basically they buy their house, and then he’ll maintain the vineyards for them around it. So they can live in the vineyards, but they don’t have all the work to do to maintain the vineyards. So it’s a nice deal for them. So he has little bit of a chain, but I’m kind of just a winery and this is my first outlet.
TYG: Why did you pick Yachats? I mean, out of all the places—I bet Portland would’ve been a booming business.
Jonathan: It’s true, and I’ve thought about Portland. I mean, take the business where the people are! But I really love the Oregon coast. There are two towns on the Oregon coast where, when I get there, I just feel like all my worries go away. One of them was Yachats, and one of them was Cannon Beach. And I just love those spots—like I said, it’s business, but it’s also pleasure for me. It’s a way for me to enjoy myself and still be able to interact with my customers in an area where I think they would enjoy coming as well.
TYG-GD: And of course Yachats is closer to Eugene than Cannon Beach.
Jonathan: It certainly is. […]
TYG: It’s nice that we now have people like you in Yachats. I think it started with The Yachats Farm Store: all of a sudden people of about your age, and of mixed talents, started arriving in Yachats. I don’t know where they came from. I think the town is been a lot better since.
Jonathan: It’s true: I like the store too. I think it’s great having some beers; we have a local Eugene beer on tap as well, for those people who maybe don’t like a glass of wine, and I always keep some kid’s juice boxes around. We’re not supposed to have minors in here during regular hours, but I hope maybe we can change that, maybe minors until 6 PM, and then maybe only adults after that. At any rate, we’re going to have patio seating in the summertime. At the very least, the kids can sit out there, and I tend to have snacks and chocolates and goodies; my kids like to have that as well.
TYG: As this area gets more developed, you’re going to have some very regular customers. The space up there [points at the ceiling] is residential.
Jonathan: I know! I’m hoping we’re successful enough that I can buy one, because I sure like it! [laughter]
TYG: I know one person has already moved in.
Jonathan: He did. And the owner of this place took me on a little tour of the other two. They’re basically just shells right now— you can pick your own finishes on there.
TYG: That’s cool!
Jonathan: Yeah, they’re pretty nice.
TYG: I’m actually thinking that I want to live there when I grow up. I really like this building, I like the unconventional lines. Great place to set up a family, and the condos are really big enough to raise a family!
Jonathan: Yes, they are. He did a really good job on those. […] There’s a big living room that looks out over the part that protrudes, an open kitchen, with a bar top counter and an island, and then two separate bedrooms and each one of those has its own bathroom. So, pretty well laid out.
TYG: And you have the deck!
Jonathan: Yes, the deck’s nice too.
TYG: Do you have a background in making wine, or tasting it?
Jonathan: I do. I actually have a college degree in winemaking. My first degree was in finance, and then I decided I didn’t like doing that, so went back and I was going to get a Master’s degree. I thought maybe I could teach school at some point or something, but I didn’t like the research that they were offering for the Master’s, so I took a second bachelor’s [degree], in winemaking.
Jonathan: Oenology, yeah.
TYG: Were your parents very lenient and letting you try alcoholic drinks? I just needed to know.
Jonathan: [laughter] We didn’t have a lot. I remember, occasionally, after working in the yard pulling weeds and [having] a hard day, sometimes I would split a beer with my dad in the backyard. I remember also there was this white, pretty bottle—from Denmark or something—and it was called Van der Mint; it was like a peppermint liqueur, and I remember sometimes we would get a little bit of that on vanilla ice cream. And that’s about all I remember as far as alcohol as a kid.
TYG: Where you from by the way? Do you live in the Eugene area?
Jonathan: Well, I was born in Minnesota, I was raised in Los Angeles, I went to school in San Diego for my business degree, did winemaking in Fresno, and then lived in Monterey before moving to Eugene.
TYG-GD: What made you move to Eugene?
Jonathan: Well, we really liked living in Monterey; it was fairly expensive, and we wanted to do our own thing. So we bought some grapes, we thought about planting but it was just super-expensive to buy land. My wife’s sister had lived in Portland and worked for Nike for a number of years, so we’d come up to visit, and we said [to each other] “What do you think about doing that?” [Here ensues a long story about his wife’s veterinary practice experiences that led to the move.] So we packed up and headed North.
TYG: How has business been?
Jonathan: Well, I think it was a little slow to start. We hadn’t really put the word out, I think it’s been getting better. Mark’s been here for about a month—he got his licensing a little bit ahead of me.
TYG-GD: What kind of license do you need?
Jonathan: You need a license from the Liquor Control Commission, and you need a business license from Yachats. If the City Council says they want this type of business in town, then they’ll sign off on it. Then it goes to the Liquor Control Commission. We have a number of things we have to do. We have to have hand-washing sinks, we have to have a special super-expensive dishwasher to be able to sanitize glasses, we have to provide handicapped bathrooms, and we also have to give them the layout of the seating, what the hours of operation are, in order for the Liquor Control Commission to say “You guys are okay.” They do background checks again, even if they already know we have wineries. They go through the whole process again to make sure we have reputable money sources and things of that nature. Once that all takes place, then we can get our license. So I’m about a week out from my license. But I think business is good. It starts out slowly, we’re going to start running some ads, and hopefully your newspaper will help us!
TYG: I notice you have very few [bottles of wine] on the rack!
Jonathan: Those are just for decoration purposes. We store most of our wine in the back. […] Right now with winter hours I think we’re doing Fridays and Saturdays, and maybe Sundays once again when the Farmer’s Market starts up, because there are a lot of people walking around. And I think in April or May we will probably open up full-time. I used to do some tastings over at Carrie’s [The Wine Place], and we’d all get tons of people down here. You know, she has a little upstairs loft space, and I used to pour wine up there. We get a lot of people in there! People from all over the country, Canada, from everywhere would come to Yachats and want to vacation and visit and buy wine!
TYG: It’s a great tourist town!
Jonathan: It is!
TYG-GD: So, do you actually sell the wine here, or does it ship from Eugene?
Jonathan: We sell it right here! We can ship, but every state has its own regulations, and we have to hold licenses to ship to every state. It’s very complex. Some states, like California, charged $10 for a shipping license, and you just have to pay the sales tax. To ship to Nebraska, it’s $1000 a year. So we don’t own a license to ship to Nebraska, because it’s not worth it! You have to kind of pick and choose because every state has its own laws. Some people want monthly reports, some people want annual reports… It’s very complex. We try to just sell it out of here: taste it, buy it, drink it.
TYG: I see. Is there anything else you want to mention?
Jonathan: Well, I think would like to do some live music in the evenings as well…
TYG: I know just the musician for you: he’s called Mr. Richard Sharpless. He’s a famed musician of Yachats.
TYG-GD: And anything else?
Jonathan: That’s it! Like I said, we would maybe like to change to some limited hours for minors so they could come in. My experience over across the street, when I would do tastings there at Carrie’s place, was that they walk on the beach, they take a hike up Perpetua, and then mom and dad want to come in and have a glass of wine or sick, or taste, or grab something for dinner that they’re going to cook, and the kids are with them! So you have to have a place for them to come in there, and we want to be able to have this is a family place as well. And most tasting rooms are; it’s just a matter of letting them know what we want to do and getting it posted.
TYG: Thank you so much for your time!
Interview with Ocean Odyssey Vacation Rentals
Ocean Odyssey Vacation Rentals is located at 251 Hwy 101 N, in the C&K Market Shopping Center.
TYG: Who runs this business?
Peter Leaor: So my name is Peter Leaor, and I am the manager of Ocean Odyssey Vacation Rentals, and Wendy is in charge of reservations.
TYG: What kind of business is this?
Wendy Rush: We do vacation rentals, with a two-night minimum up to 28 days with fully furnished homes, in a 30-mile stretch from Newport to 10 miles south of Yachats.
TYG: That would be the whole month of February. I bet you get a lot of full-ups in February.
Wendy: Not always.
TYG: But you can have the whole month of February.For example, you can start on the 1st and end on the 28th.
Wendy: Most people who want to do that long, will do it in January, sometimes February, and a lot of times in March.
TYG: Where are you guys personally from?
Wendy: I am born and raised in Oregon and have been on the coast for 23 years.
Peter: I am from the state of New Hampshire and I moved here in 2006.
TYG: Do you have a background in the vacation rental business?
Wendy: My Mom has been in the hotel/lodging industry for pretty much her whole life. She was actually the general manager in a hotel in Newport. So I kind of learned from her. I have been in the same industry for the last 18 years.
Peter: And I actually have been involved in the service industry for the last 15 years. Prior to managing Ocean Odyssey, I was a manager of Starbucks for 10 years.
TYG: Starbucks manager, oh my gosh, wild!
TYG-Graphic Design: Well, that’s hospitality.
TYG: How long has this place been open? It was here when we got here but that was six years ago.
Wendy: It has been in this location for 17 years now, but it has been open longer, hasn’t it?
Peter: This is our 21st year.
TYG: Where were you before here?
Wendy: Up the street, wasn’t it?
Peter: Used to be across the street, kitty-corner…
TYG-GD: Where the Antique Virgin is?
TYG: Small place for a vacation rental.
TYG: How has business been going?
Peter: Business is good! Everybody has been talking about Yachats, Oregon. It has become very popular in the last couple of years.
TYG-GD: Is that because of the Frommer article do you think? [Arthur Frommer, the famous travel expert, published an article about his top 10 destinations in the world: Yachats was among them.]
Peter: I think it has a big part, yes.
TYG: Wow! It is especially amazing because those were together in terms of rating in his mind. If Arthur Frommer rates Yachats equal to London and Paris on his list, it’s got to be a pretty good town.
Peter: We get a lot of people calling on the phone that will actually talk about that article and it gives us an opportunity to really talk about Yachats, our favorite place to live.
TYG: That’s nice.
TYG-GD: Do you get a lot of overseas clients?
Wendy: Not many, we get a lot of people from Canada. We do have one guest who serves overseas in the military and whenever she gets a leave she comes and stays—she’s got her favorite house.
TYG: And you reserve that for her each time?
Wendy: Yes. If it’s not available she tries to plan her leave around when [the house] is available. And we give her a good discount since she’s a regular customer and she’s in the military.
TYG: It has been my observation that the real estate and vacation rental business hasn’t really recovered yet in Yachats, so this is certainly a great time to buy,buy, buy. I judge this because large houses are selling in the $200,000 range.
TYG-GD: So is that good or bad for you?
Peter: So Ocean Odyssey is getting a lot of vacation rental visitors, that want to come and stay in Yachats to see if this is the kind of place where they would want to purchase a house. We’re not involved in real estate but we kind of see what is going on. But we’re more attracting visitors to get the Yachats experience.
TYG: [...] What kind of houses are there, where are they mostly located?
Wendy: We have the 30 mile stretch, but we’re Waldport,Yachats, and in between.
TYG: I notice you have that cool house with the big square windows.
TYG-GD: We saw it all lit up the other night.
Wendy: It’s called Château Del Mar.
TYG: How do you clean those windows? I think a lot of people have been wondering that.
Wendy: We have a cleaning company who have extension poles. [...] So yes, we hire out somebody to do it for us. [...] It is a lot like owning a house. You have fix things up, replace [items] when needed; we have cleaners who clean after every guest, and carpet cleaners who clean once or twice a year. [...]
TYG: By the way, how many houses do you have?
Wendy: We are currently at about 75.
TYG: With 75 houses, you can really have a range of styles for different guests.
Wendy: We have from your one bedroom cabin, very rustic, to your seven bedroom luxury home. There’s something for everyone.
TYG: I have noticed that when the Château is lit up, it doesn’t look that luxurious.
Wendy: That one is actually a higher-end house. [...] It has five bedrooms.
TYG-GD: With two stories?
Wendy: With three stories. It’s bigger than it looks. The third floor is not a full floor, it’s kind of like a loft area with two closed-off bedrooms. The owners recently did updates to it, so actually made it even better.
TYG-GD: So that is part of my question: you said “the owners.” So you guys don’t own these houses?
Peter: No. The owners work with us, and so what we do for them is procure reservations. We have a website, we have our office here. We are open every day of the year; our job is to take those calls, and e-mail inquiries and match them to the right home.
TYG: What is in it for the homeowners? I guessingthey have other homes…
Peter: These are usually second homes of theirs, and so they don’t live here. And to help offset their costs they have us at Ocean Odyssey rent out their homes to generate income for them.
TYG-GD: So then they get a percentage out of that?
Peter: Yes. [...]
TYG: What is the average rent for a medium-sized house?
Wendy: A standard home, which would be probably a two bedroom, two bath home during the winter, is about $99 to $129 a night—that just kind of depends whether they’re on the water, or if they don’t have a view. During the summertime, it can average $169 to $189 a night. So about the same as getting a hotel room, except you get an entire house.
TYG: So it’s a great deal, and you don’t have to clean.
Wendy: And you don’t have to clean. There is a separate cleaning fee that is associated with each house and that varies.
TYG: But it’s nothing like the cost of renting the house.
Wendy: And you don’t have to get up super-early the day you’re departing and clean the entire house. And you save money versus a hotel because you can just eat in, buy groceries and you’re not spending tons of money on gas to go out. Unless you’re right in Yachats and you can walk. [...]
TYG: Anything else you wanted to add?
Peter: Just that we feel pretty lucky to be here!
TYG: Thank you so much for your time!
Both: Thank you.