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Arva Hayes has run Friends Restaurant in Enterprise with her family for 10 years. The Hayes’ opened Best Friends in Joseph last summer and are combining the restaurants into one on Joseph’s Main Street starting Jan. 1. Christmas Eve is the last day of business for the Enterprise restaurant. (KATIE NESBITT/The Observer)
ENTERPRISE — Christmas Eve morning, a half dozen early risers gather at Friends in Enterprise. It’s the last day the restaurant is open, the only place in town that opens at 5 a.m.
Last summer the Hayes family opened another restaurant, Best Friends, in Joseph at the former site of the Mountain Air Cafe. After six months, the family decided it made the best business sense to combine the restaurants into one place, especially since they now own the building on Joseph’s Main Street.
A couple months ago, the City of Joseph granted Best Friends permission to apply for a liquor license. Now only open for breakfast and lunch, Arva Hayes said they would be open for dinner, as well.
The week after Christmas Hayes said Best Friends would be closed while they get ready for expanded hours and menu and will open at 5 a.m. New Year’s Day.
Some of the early crowd joked that they would be having coffee at each other’s homes with Friends gone, but some will make their way up to Joseph.
Commissioner Susan Roberts stops by after her morning walk for a cup of coffee. Tip Proctor is a regular as is Marlyn Riggs of USDA Wildlife Services. Brett Witty came in for a cup of coffee before going out to clear the roads for Oregon Department of Transportation.
Ranchers Vernon and Glenda Bennett come in most every day before feeding their cattle in the Wallowa Mid-Valley as does Wayne Cook.
Hayes said she and her husband were long haul truck drivers for 15 years before coming to Enterprise. “We knew there had to be good food somewhere and it’s not on the road. We opened Friends in the mind of serving good food.”
Of her early morning customers, Hayes said, “We have a big variety at 5 a.m. Sometimes they eat; sometimes they just get coffee. We’ve got everybody — ranchers, cattle buyers — there has been more cattle bought and sold here than the local auction yard.”
Hayes said her whole family is involved in the business. Granddaughter Breean has been managing Friends while father, Sam, and stepmother, Lynae, run Best Friends. Hayes said, “Breean is here all the time — she does the scheduling, cooks, manages staff. She is simply doing a wonderful job and she plans on going up to Joseph and being a part of that. It’s always been a family-oriented business, and we plan on keeping it that way.”
She said when they moved to Enterprise they started the restaurant to create jobs for the family. “If you don’t have a job, you create one.”
Even Ethan, 12, has been a part of the business since he was 2 years old. Hayes said, “When he was little he would sit with people who were sitting alone and he’s taken cash and made change since he was 8.”
Hayes said she does the baking in the afternoon. “We always have homemade pies, cinnamon rolls, dinner rolls.” She even makes homemade syrup for her sourdough and buttermilk pancakes.
The one day a week Friends offered dinner was mid-day on Sunday when they served old-fashioned fried chicken. “We cut it up, bread it and fry it like Grandma used to.” She laughed, because some of her customers call her “Grandma.” Hayes said Best Friends will serve chicken dinner at night.
How many of the early crowd will venture up to Joseph is to be determined, but Hayes said, “It’s only 6 miles.”