Interview with Brian Dimiceli,
Manager of the Sea Note Lounge
The Sea Note Lounge is a new bar that also serves food and has live music, on the corner of 3rd Street and Highway 101 in Yachats.
TYG: So how did you get the idea to open this place?
Brian: It was actually my mother’s idea. She talked me into it. I was ready to retire. She talked me into doing the business here. She was looking at this building for quite a while, and we actually put it together.
TYG: It’s an awesome-looking building. How’s business been going?
Brian: It’s actually a little bit slow right now. I mean, a lot of people don’t know that we’re actually open. The word’s getting around and business is slowly picking up. It’s holding its own.
TYG: How long have you guys actually been open?
Brian: Since December 13th.
TYG: I really like the decor of this place. How did you get the design for it?
Brian: Well actually, it was between my mother and I, and my wife—we sat down and picked out color schemes. I actually got the carpet for the place and picked out the colors for the walls. Most of the tables that are done in here, my mom did.
TYG: They’re beautiful.
TYG-Graphic Design: She made them?
Brian: These here (in the sun room) we bought. But all the tables that are in [the bar], the bigger ones, she made all those.
TYG: She must be quite the woodworker!
Brian: I don’t know if you know this, but she owns the Salty Dawg Bar & Grill also, in Waldport.
TYG-GD: And what’s her name?
Brian: Rosetta Dimiceli. She’s got all homemade tables in her bar, too. She used to do expoxy pourings—it’s really neat. And then we got one of the local gentlemen, Steve Oldham, he did the bar, which he did an excellent job on.
TYG: Everything here is beautiful!
Brian: He did a really nice job.
TYG-GD: So, what did you use to do before you almost retired?
Brian: I worked in Chicago for a wholesale grocery co-op for twenty-five years. It kind of worked out pretty well, because they went out of business. They were in business for a hundred years.
TYG: It’s always such a shame when that happens.
TYG-GD: So how does your experience from that bear on this business?
Brian: I was a supervisor, so I managed a lot of people. And I was also in the restaurant field many years ago, when I first actually started working. I was a fry cook, then I went to broiler man, then I was getting trained to be a sous chef and I decided to get out of it. [laughs] But I also had a bar 35 years ago, in Chicago, so that’s another reason why I got into the business.
TYG: How did you find this little town?
Brian: My mom had always ranted and raved about this town—how nice it was, and the tourism that it brings in the spring and the summer. As I was working on the building last summer, watching everything get done, watching all the people walking around, all the business across the street, all the business down the street—it’s a lively town in the spring and the summer!
TYG-GD: So you actually did the construction yourself?
Brian: No, I didn’t do it myself—I overlooked it. I did do some of the work in the parking lot—the excavation part of it. But as far as the work on the building, there was Cavanaugh Construction that did the carpentry, A1 Electric did the electric, obviously, Newport Plumbing did all the plumbing work, and a guy named Dale [Rekow] did all the drywall. He did all the designs on the ceiling, he sprayed all the orange peel on the walls—did a really nice job.
TYG: I’m really glad to see this place in business again, because for a long time this place was just sort of sitting there. Nobody knew what was happening with it.
Brian: I guess it’s been sitting here for 25 years. The gentleman that had it before us, he would do some work on it, then he’d run out of money, or he’d change his mind, and just couldn’t get it together.
TYG: It’s kind of impressive that this building stood up un-maintained for that long!
Brian: Yes. It’s got good bones. We had to redo the whole front and south side of the building, because it was all rotted. We had to take a lot of the sheeting off, and we took the cedar shake off. A lot of plywood underneath was rotten, so we had to tear that all out and put all new plywood on, and all new wrap on it, and re-side it.
TYG: But still, how did this place survive! It must have some serious beams in it.
Brian: It does! You can see them inside there—these are all solid beams, and there are more in the walls back there. And then we had to reinforce all these beams underneath the building with pylons. A lot of work went into this building.
TYG: It looks great!
TYG-GD: So what’s your favorite thing about being a bar owner?
Brian: Just being around people, talking with them, getting to know people and different cultures that exist in Oregon. Like I said, I’m from Chicago. When I moved here, it was like culture shock for me. Chicago’s like, fast fast fast fast fast, you know. Rush rush rush rush rush. Here it’s the exact opposite, like slowwwww and easy-going... [laughs]. But it’s good for me, because my blood pressure is normal now, I lost about 35 pounds since I’ve been here. So it’s been good for me, and my wife loves it. She’s a nurse at Samaritan Hospital.
TYG-GD: That’s terrific! Do you guys have any kids?
Brian: Yes, we have five. Three from my first marriage, and she’s got two from her first marriage. My youngest is 24, my oldest is 30; her oldest is 34 and her youngest is 31.
TYG-GD: What do they think about Yachats?
Brian: The only one who’s been here so far is my middle daughter. I haven’t even been here a year yet. She loved it! [...]
TYG: Have you seen the 4th of July stuff yet?
Brian: Oh yes!
TYG: I really don’t know how this town can find the budget to have a fireworks show like that!
Brian: I guess there are a lot of people here who are well-to-do, and they probably pitch in to the community, which is a good thing. [...] Before I moved here, last year, my wife and I came out here and visited. It was right at 4th of July. My mom brought us down to—I guess you’d call it the spit—in Waldport, and we watched the fireworks. They were okay, and my mom came up to me and said, “What did you think of the fireworks?” and I said, “Well, they’re okay for a small town...” and she goes, “Oh, these are some of the best fireworks...” and I said, “You gotta remember, I come from Chicago.” [laughter] And actually, the town that I lived in, for years, they had the largest fireworks display in the state. They would run fireworks for like 40 minutes. It was about $75,000. It was really ridiculous. But Waldport, and Yachats, being as small as they are, they put on a really good show. [...] I haven’t seen Yachats yet, but I’ll definitely see it this year.
TYG: Ohhh, Yachats is amazing.
TYG-GD: But the parade is most of the fun.
Brian: So do they parade down 101, or is it the back street over here?
TYG-GD: It’s been going down 7th, and then they curve around Marine Drive. But then everybody ends up at the Post Office, and spills over into downtown, so after it’s done is when you’ll get a bunch of business. During that time nobody will show up, though. [laughs] But it’s really great, because it’s called La De Da, and it really does not take itself seriously. There are so many funny costumes.
TYG: Like the drill team of umbrella dancers!
Brian: [laughs] I guess this year I’ll be experiencing that.
TYG: So yes, the fireworks: find yourself a good spot.
TYG-GD: So what do you see as your place in the community? How do you see your business fitting in?
Brian: Well, I know there’s a lot of tourism here. We want to give to the community: we’ve got a nice, clean place with a good atmosphere, we serve good food, and everything is reasonably priced. We just want to make people happy! I make a lot of homemade dishes [like] sausage; my chef makes a lot of homemade dishes; I’m thinking about maybe introducing a small, personalized pan pizza... [sounds of appreciation from the interviewer] A lot of ideas are still in the works, because we’re still new. We’re trying to find out what people want and like, and trying to cater to that. [...] We’re looking into getting a slicer to make fresh sandwiches, and slices or chunks of cheese, stuff like that. We’re still a work in progress. I haven’t had any complaints. We were serving frozen cod, but we got rid of it.
TYG-GD: There’s so much good stuff in the area!
Brian: Yeah! I mean, I could go to the grocery store and buy fish sticks. So we got rid of that, and we got IQC cod loins, 6 ouncers, and we cut it into three pieces, tempura batter it and panko it ourselves, fresh, and we sell it like that—it’s really, really good. There are people coming in and requesting gluten-free stuff, so we put hummus on the menu. We make a nice, big house salad for people who are vegetarian, and have an ahi tuna salad. Sometimes we’ll special-make a flatbread with just vegetables on it for vegetarians. We’re trying to cater to the people that have certain needs.
TYG-GD: Plus, in the wintertime, it’s going to be a lot of locals...
Brian: Exactly. We have to make the locals happy! Like you said, in the wintertime there’s not a lot of tourism here, and that’s what we depend on, is the business from the locals.
TYG-GD: Well, is there anything else you wanted to talk about?
Brian: Not really... I love the town, it’s really beautiful—especially driving on that back road near the ocean there, then you come around to where the bay is... and in here, you can just sit and look at—that’s not part of Cape Perpetua, that hill there, but... nice.
TYG: Just one other question: Do you miss the snow from Chicago?
Brian: No. Absolutely not. [laughter]
TYG-GD: The wind, maybe...
Brian: They don’t call it The Windy City for nothing! There’s plenty of wind here to remind me of Chicago—that’s the only thing I need to remember from there!
TYG-GD: Thank you for giving us your time today!
Brian: No problem! No problem! Nice meeting you.
Interview with Shelly and Chris Crespi
at The Silver Surf Motel
Shelly and Chris are caretakers and chefs for the Silver Surf Motel just north of Yachats, at 3775 Highway 101. Their Bistro is accessed from the front desk of the motel.
|The Bistro at the Silver Surf Motel in Yachats, OR|
Shelly: The hotel was built in 1970 and opened for occupancy in 1971. The pool was built in ‘71. The original four cottages were built in 1948—the hotel came later.
TYG: Wow! You’ve done a great job maintaining them!
Shelly: They’ve gotten a lot of TLC over the years. And then the Bistro opened in June. We started construction on that last January.
TYG: I like what you’ve done with the roofs, just connecting them like that.
Shelly: In the beginning, they were four little individual places. They did that about 12, 13 years ago when they had to replace the roofing. They did that and made them into covered carports.
TYG: So how long have you been involved with this place?
Shelly: We’re on our fifth year.
TYG: How did you find Yachats?
Shelly: We used to visit Yachats, before we took this job at the Silver Surf. We used to visit Yachats, and stay over here, and when the job came open we were in the area. So we were familiar with Yachats well before we came here for this job.
TYG: What did you do before this?
Shelly: We’ve done quite a bit of things! We’ve been in restaurants, and bed and breakfasts, in hospitality; we used to own our own event and catering business, kind of a wedding industry—we did that for years. And we both grew up in family businesses.
TYG: How has business been going for this place?
Shelly: It’s been going really well. This is probably the busiest January we’ve seen in the five years we’ve been here.
TYG: I wonder what makes it busier! Maybe just the weather, or..?
Shelly: Additional amenities, things that might be going on in Yachats that the town does to promote travel... It’s more so what has to do with occupancy being down. You’ll see declines in the years where there’s an election; you’ll see declines based on the outcome of that; you’ll see declines during a recession. You’ll start to see incline in occupancy based on when re-fi’s are available on homes. People re-finance their homes, they save money, they have more money for travel funding—things like that. There are different reasons for what determines occupancy fluctuating up and down. A lot of different factors.
TYG: I can see some of those things, but why would politics have an impact on occupancy?
Shelly: Politics and election years—it scares people. Just like they hold tight onto their money during tax season, or when their property taxes are due; you’ll also see it in the beginning of an election year, until people find out what the results are going to be, and before they make decisions about their investments or their funds.
TYG: Okay, just sort of ride out the storm.
Shelly: Right! People like to know the outcome of things. If there’s something major going on in a year, and people are glued to whatever that topic is, they like to follow it through and see the outcome before they make decisions about luxury. They stick to the basics and the necessities.
TYG: And then of course there’s the standard sway between winter and summer.
Shelly: Right. Huge difference. We run about 35 to 45 percent occupancy in the winter, and we run 98.5 per cent from May through September. It’s rare that we have maybe ten available rooms in an entire month in the summer.
TYG: So always make sure to pre-register in the summer!
Shelly: Yes! [laughs] And that’s also a difference—the hotels in Yachats are a destination. For example, your Motel 6 or Quality Inn or something like that are more of an app while you’re traveling—the cheapest place you can stay, whereas the hotels in Yachats are more of a destination and people reserve far in advance.
Chris: Further and further in advance, too! We’re booked for most of the summer right now.
Shelly: Yes, especially the weekends. The weekends, and pet rooms first. And then too, the weather is a big factor in the off-season. It comes and goes. And like with the eclipse, how the media tend to over-hype. So the same thing, kind of-ish, happened last week when the media did the whole tsunami watch thing. Everybody was calling the coast and cancelling reservations.
Chris: To be fair, we don’t have many of our steps left.
Shelly: Right! Our railings, our steps snapped.
Chris: Yes, the water came up into our grass!
TYG-GD: But that was the storm, not the tsunami, right?
TYG: The tsunami turned out to be nothing.
Chris: Although it’s better to be safe than sorry, with something like that.
TYG: True. [...]
TYG-Graphic Design: Can we talk about the restaurant some more? How it started, that kind of stuff?
Shelly: Absolutely! We started with lunch last June, beginning of June, and that lasted about three weeks. We had to close it. Because of the size of the employment pool in the area, and as busy as the hotel is in the summer, the hotel guests have to come first. You can’t start a new venture and move onto something if you’re not taking care of the original. You have to step in and clean rooms and do laundry, take care of the front desk, so lunch didn’t work. So we moved on to dinner, and that definitely is our calling.
Chris: It was... instant. We were slammed instantly. And it’s only gotten progressively more.
Shelly: Right. So we were doing six nights a week, and in the wintertime we cut down to Thursday, Friday, and Saturday, where we’ll be until March. We will be open for Valentine’s though, on Wednesday—any special occasions like that. We had really wanted to move into a lunch once we got things in place. But this is our fifth year, and if I’m being honest... it’s a vicious circle! [laughs] Trying to get things into place, for staffing—there’s so much turn-over! Lunch, we’re going to reserve for private events. We have ladies’ groups that come in—Red Hat Ladies, Soroptomist, etc. It can be a private meeting for places that want to have seminars or get together during the day. They’re booked in advance, we know when they’re coming, and we can staff it. And then we can focus on our five nights a week for dinner in here and on the patio when the weather is good, and focus on the hotel during the day. And that’s what’s going to work for us.
TYG-GD: Do you have a special chef?
Shelly: We’re both chefs! So we run the kitchen. We don’t have any staff in the kitchen—we have a server out here. We’ll be adding another in Spring, when the weather’s good, on the patio. We have six more tables that we put outside.
TYG-GD: So do you guys ever get to sleep?
Shelly: No, not really! [laughter] We love it. It’s just right. We’ve gotten to meet a lot of great people that come in, and we get to talk to people—when you’re just doing the hotel, you get to see all tourists. Opening this has allowed us to meet a lot of locals.
TYG-GD: Did you already have the kitchen here?
Chris: No, we did everything ourselves.
Shelly: Well, we had some help from Cavanaugh Construction and Oldham on the exterior and the siding, and adjoining the two buildings together. The interior remodel took us longer, because we did do a lot of it between other tasks.
TYG: I love that the wood just goes up into the ceiling! It’s a very unusual style.
Shelly: These are the original joists—there were eight of these across, and we took out the middle ones and doubled them up so it would open [the space] up more.
TYG: It’s beautiful in here. I really like it.
TYG-GD: So, how do you decide your menu?
Chris: We switch around all the time—every week it’s different.
Shelly: We have a really tiny kitchen, so we have to do half stove, half oven. That’s a deciding factor. We don’t deep-fry anything. We try to do healthy cooking, so a lot of our protein selections are oven: baked, broiled, in that manner. The guests kind of determine what we’re going to do a lot—what they like. We get their feedback. We have a lot of people who call and [ask], “Are you going to have this on the menu this weekend?” “Sure!” [laughter] and then we put that on the menu. We were changing it around a lot in the beginning, but guests have found favorites. And they get frustrated if they come in and we don’t have it. Like the Osso Buco. The Osso Buco is big.
TYG: What is Osso Buco?
Shelly: It’s a pork shank.
Chris: Over a bed of mashed potatoes.
TYG-GD: An Italian dish, normally with veal.
Shelly: So, we’ll have some people call and say, “Well, I thought you changed the menu! This is on there all the time.” And then we’ll have some people say, “Well, if that’s not on there, I’m not coming.” They say that if you’re pleasing every single person, you’re doing something wrong! [laughs] So the Osso Buco stays on the menu, because when we don’t have it people get upset. It’s a very high-demand item.
Chris: So is the halibut.
Shelly: Yes, the halibut, the Cioppino...
TYG-GD: What is that again?
Shelly: It’s a tomato-based seafood stew. And we’ve done some truffled baked Brie, with raspberry sauce, truffled mac and cheese, and we made some truffle olive oil [with some truffles a local diner brought them].
TYG-GD: So what else would you like the community to know about?
Shelly: I guess one of the things is that we decided to move forward with an emphasis on wines, also. So we have nearly 40 selections of wine, Italian prosecco, bubbly. We have the wines in here, and another wine wall [in the gift shop]. And we have two licenses! We have an on-site permit, where we can pour in the designated OLCC areas that they registered; and then we have an off-site, off-premise license also. This allows our guests, or anybody in the community, to come in and purchase bottles, and take them away. And they are very affordable! They’re not wine shop prices. We primarily have Oregon wines, and then we do have some Walla Walla, some California—Napa—because when you’re in a hotel, you have a lot of tourists, and a lot of tourists know their Napa Cabernet. We also have a few Italian wines, and New Zealand ones. So, most of the basics.
Chris: We have a very cool selection of micro-beers too, in 22 oz. bottles.
Shelly: And those are all Oregon craft beers.
Chris: Well, not all—there’s one from England, one from Cali...
Shelly: And then we just brought in a couple of beers on tap, from Depoe Bay Brewing, which a new brewery up north. So I just want people to know that they can come in and have a nice selection of wines—we pour 14 wines by the glass. So 14 of those wines, they can sample before they purchase. And then we also have the gift shop that they can stroll through. We have a lot of beach-themed giftware and novelty things.
TYG: Well this has been great—thank you so much for your time!
Shelly: You’re welcome! Thank you!
|The Gift Shop and Wine Wall at the Silver Surf Motel in Yachats, OR|
Local Events: Quilt Show
|Mesa Verde, by local quilt artist Ruth Bass|
A display of the 2016 International Challenge Art Quilt Show will be at the Yachats Commons, Feb 24 and 25, 2018. The theme is World Heritage Sites.
Quilters in each of three nations, the USA, Japan, and South Korea, were given a list of 30 World Heritage Sites. 30 quilters from each nation represented one of the heritage sites in a piece of fiber art. The result is 90 small quilts, hung vertically on panels for each World Heritage Site, so you may compare the work of one nation to the next.
The show is a benefit for the Yachats Library Move Project. The city library is moving into the 501 Building, adjacent to the Commons. The quilts will be on display Saturday and Sunday Feb. 24 and 25. From 10 AM till 4 PM. Admission is a suggested donation of $5.00. High Tea and refreshments will be available for purchase. An additional exhibit of art quilts created by local artists will be also be on display and for sale.
This wonderful, colorful event is brought to you by Polly Plumb Productions, and the community of Yachats Oregon. Please visit https://pollyplumb.org and on Facebook Polly Plumb.