RESTAURANT GETS MAKEOVER, NEW OWNERS

March 06, 2002 11:00 pm
OPEN FOR BUSINESS: Debbra Gray keeps the restaurant open from 5 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily.  The menu includes homestyle cooking, including fresh-baked pies and homemade soup. (Photo by Bill Rautenstrauch).
OPEN FOR BUSINESS: Debbra Gray keeps the restaurant open from 5 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily. The menu includes homestyle cooking, including fresh-baked pies and homemade soup. (Photo by Bill Rautenstrauch).

By Bill Rautenstrauch

For The Observer

ENTERPRISE An aging Main Street restaurant, once a favorite gathering place for locals, began a new life recently when it was taken over by Enterprise residents Debbra and John Gray.

The Grays are open for business after five months of cleaning, painting and fixing up the eatery, which they purchased from Maye Surber. Surber, who for several years ran it under the name Mayes Place, has moved to Montana.

Before Surber, the restaurant was owned by Mattie Davis and was known far and wide as the Davis Caf. In its heyday, it was a local favorite, frequented by merchants in business suits and farmers in bib overalls alike. It never was a fancy place, and it isnt especially fancy now.

But customers should like it just the same, said Gray.

Weve spent a lot of time fixing it up. Its clean and in better repair, she said, gesturing around the restaurant, which in addition to a fresh paint job sports newly upholstered booths and chairs, and new carpet and linoleum. The famous Wallowa Lake mural painted by Gene Hayes remains where it has been since 1959 on the east wall above the counter. It has been dressed up with a frame.

Debbra Gray, 43, was born in Troy. She worked at a restaurant there for about 13 years and has logged time as a cook or waitress in other Wallowa County establishments as well. She worked with Surber for a short time, she said.

That was good, because I learned how the place operates, she said. It came up for sale and I thought it would be nice to have a restaurant of my own. The price and the timing was right.

She and John Gray have been married about a year. He works as a lab supervisor at Wallowa Memorial Hospital. He is mostly a silent partner in the restaurant business.

He wont be quitting his day job, Debbra said. She said she puts in enough hours at the restaurant for the both of them. She cooks, waits tables, and oversees a staff of four.

Its been busier than I thought it would be, considering that we didnt buy a lot of advertising, she said. Were seeing new faces, but quite a few of the old timers are coming back, too.

The restaurant is open from 5 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily. On the menu: homestyle cooking, including fresh-baked pies and homemade soup.

Its good basic fare, said Gray. We have breakfast and lunch specials and we hope after we get going well have dinner specials, too.