The former Brunswick Restaurant & Lounge business sign has come down and in its place the new “Elgin Station Grill & Bar” sign has gone up, and with it emerges a new menu, new staff and the making of new traditions.
Business owners and brothers, Phil Smith of Salem and Randy Smith of Eugene bought the restaurant Aug. 1. Together they represent more than 60 years of experience in the restaurant and food service industry from corporate businesses to mom and pop establishments.
“We’re used to working in corporate, and we decided it was time to get into a place of our own, work it and retire with it,” Randy said. “This is a great area, and we fell in love with it while visiting friends for the past 10 years.”
Randy said was impressed with Elgin when he passed by Stella Mayfield Elementary School on one of his visits and saw all the kids’ bicycles in their stands without locks on them.
“It looked just like the old days when I went to school,” he said. “It feels safe. It feels right. I haven’t seen that in so many years.”
Then, on another visit to the area, the Smith brothers heard about the sale of the Brunswick, and after looking at it, they thought it fit their individual strengths and decided to buy it. A lot of planning went into it, including changing the name to reflect Elgin and its heritage.
“The biggest reason we changed the name of the business was because we wanted to build our own identity and reputation,” Phil said. “In talking to the community, (we found people) agreed that a name change was a positive thing.”
With a new name, the brothers felt they could introduce their own menu and bring with it their vision.
“We know the history of the Brunswick, and we’re donating the old sign to the Elgin Museum,” added Randy. “The name will live on in that way.”
Though the name was changed, the Smith brothers have retained a lot of the history of the old Brunswick, including the decorations inside and the brand names on the wall.
The new menu is built around the history of Elgin, its rodeo, lumber industry and Western lifestyle with items such as the double bull burger, spicy stampede burger, cowgirl cob salad, cowboy chicken wrap, Blue Mountain club sandwich, Italian stallion sandwich and Round-up roast beef sandwich.
The bar in the rear of the restaurant will also be preserved for its historical heritage. According to Randy, the bar had five false ceilings and at one time the ceiling used to go all the way to the top of the building.
The Smiths know they have large shoes to fill as the Brunswick Restaurant has been one of Elgin’s iconic downtown businesses since it was built in 1946. The restaurant was named after John Moses Brunswick, founder of Brunswick Billiards. Just how that happened was a business deal in itself.
“The original owner who built it did not have quite enough money to buy a pool table, so he contacted the Brunswick (billiards) company, and they said if you name your restaurant Brunswick, we’ll give you a pool table,” Randy said. “The owner said, ‘Okay, I can do that,’ (and) he named it Brunswick.”
Moving forward, Randy said, “We want to be a part of the community and let the Elgin Station create its own history.”
One way the Elgin Station is doing that is by opening its restaurant doors to the early bird coffee drinkers at 5 a.m. The farmers and others are welcome to sit around the restaurant tables and visit and enjoy free coffee.
Beyond that, the Elgin Station will serve lunches starting at 11 a.m. and dinners in the restaurant between 5 p.m. and 9 p.m. The bar will be open from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and from 11 a.m. to 2 a.m. Friday and Saturday.
Although the Smiths are starting out with lunches and dinners, “We’re going to introduce a breakfast menu beginning Sept. 7 and 8,” Randy said.
The Elgin Station currently employs 15 part-time workers, 14 of whom live in Elgin. They are also hiring Oscar Tenario of Eugene as their kitchen manager. He will be joining the staff the first week of September.
“We’re always looking for good people,” Randy said.
The Elgin Station may be reached during business house at 541-437-0100, and, Phill added, they will be open every day except Thanksgiving and Christmas.