ENTERPRISE — Want a beer or wine with your lunch? Friends Restaurant and Pub plans to add limited alcohol sales to the menu, said proprietor Bree Gladden.
The Enterprise City Council endorsed the liquor license Monday, Feb. 8, and Gladden still is working out the details with the Oregon Liquor Control Commission office in Pendleton. She said Wednesday, Feb. 10, she hopes to begin liquor sales by March.
Although the “and Pub” part of the cafe’s name hasn’t been emphasized since she opened in April 2019, it’s always been part of the plan.
“It’s been registered as Friends Restaurant and Pub since the day I opened,” she said. “We planned on adding alcohol at some point in the future. We just didn’t want to start with that. We had a very minimal amount (of capital) to get started in the first place and we just wanted to get open first. We didn’t have all that for the liquor license fees and the inventory. We had just enough to get opened and get started. … It’s been set up for a bar, always.”
The new liquor license will not include hard liquor, although that could be in the future, she said.
“I’m hoping that by next month we’ll be able to serve beer and wine and champagne, but we’re not going to have hard liquor right now. I only applied for a limited license,” she said. “You know, beer, wine, red beers — all that good stuff.”
Gladden said the food menu consists largely of hash browns, eggs, toast, homemade corned-beef hash, home-cubed steaks, hand-breaded chicken-fried steaks, homemade soups, home-smoked meats, smoked cheese and some new barbecue items.
“A lot of the stuff we do, we do in-house,” she said, and the menu could change down the road.
Gladden and her co-owner husband, Dustin Gladden, are parents of three children, ages 3 to almost 7.
“They require a lot of energy and a lot of attention, as well,” Bree Gladden said.
Dustin Gladden occasionally helps out, but Bree Gladden largely runs the operation with the assistance of five employees.
Friends is open seven days a week, from 5 a.m. to 3 p.m. As yet, Gladden doesn’t have plans to expand into the dinner realm.
“At first, we will probably just have a special Friday and Saturday,” she said. “Right now, with it being slower, I work a lot. It would be too much to work all day for 10 hours and then to do the evening as well, with three kids and all the other stuff.”
She said she envisions possibly trying a limited dinner menu at some point, at which time she’ll seek customer feedback on what menu items they’d like to see included.
“At first, we’ll just feel it out. … We’d like to try dinners, but we’re not going to jump right in and lose a bunch of money,” she said. “I want to make sure people are interested in coming for dinner and get people’s feedback.”
As for the COVID-19 pandemic restrictions that affected nearly all businesses, Friends was no different and it is surviving well. Gladden said the shutdowns last spring and in November definitely hit the business.
“It hurt a lot. The first time we were forced to shut down, it was before we were open for a whole year,” she said, adding government aid has helped. “We’ve definitely taken advantage of all the opportunities to get a little bit of help.”
Still, Friends has managed to thrive amid the pandemic.
“It definitely affected us, but we had a pretty good year and we were able to open back up in May,” she said of the first shutdown. “We had really great numbers for a while so I imagine we would’ve had a really great year if we hadn’t had to be shut down for a few months.”
Gladden said she thinks her patrons’ eagerness to get out of the house helps.
“After the second freeze we had in November, I think a lot of people are just tired of not being able to go out if they want,” she said. “So now, when places are open, I feel like more people are ready to go out because you never know when it’s going to get shut down again.”