Editor’s note: Call destinations before you visit to make sure they’re open. Stay posted on what Oregon’s phased reopening means for you, and follow these steps for social distancing outdoors. Also, remember to bring your face covering, required for all of Oregon’s public indoor spaces and outdoors when keeping 6 feet of distance isn’t possible. Here’s what to know about Oregon’s outdoors right now.
If canceled plans, divisive politics or the simple fact that your living room is now your office have you more stressed out than normal, a new business in Medford — one of many that have opened across Oregon in 2020 — has your solution. Crunch Time’s “wreck rooms” let you throw a computer against the wall, smash a vase into tiny pieces and demolish an alarm clock with a sledgehammer. You can even have a picture tile created for you to smash, so you can finally take out your pent-up frustration on a specific person with no actual harm.
With a background in theater, owner Robin Downward says that the business idea partly came about while looking for a way to let adults have adolescent fun — the kind they’d never allow themselves to do otherwise. “A lot of people have this fantasy of ‘What would it be like to just take a baseball bat to something and just smash it?’ Whether it’s to release stress or to find out what would happen,” Downward says. If breaking things isn’t your cup of tea, Crunch Time also offers escape-room experiences for small groups with strict disinfecting and social-distancing guidelines.
Crunch Time is one of a variety of businesses across the state that opened in 2020, offering a glimmer of hope in a year where news of shuttered businesses has dominated the headlines. Here is a roundup of new businesses across Oregon and how you can support them.
Two other new businesses in Southern Oregon add to the culinary options in the lower half of the state. Filipino Cuisine is a new food cart in Grants Pass that will transport you to the island nation with authentically crafted dishes like barbecue chicken skewers, pork adobo and lumpia, a deep-fried spring roll. During the efforts to quell deadly nearby wildfires, the business served free food to firefighters, volunteers and evacuees. The owners of Ruby’s in Ashland also recently opened a sister restaurant in Medford called Ruby’s on Genessee. The globally inspired but locally sourced menu includes breakfast and lunch choices, like bison burgers, falafel wraps and burritos.
If you love baked goods but have a restrictive diet, you’ll be happy to know that a new gluten- and allergen-free bakery, Flour & Fern has opened in McMinnville. After testing out her recipes and gaining a reputation for delicious baked goods at farmers markets, owner Mary Wenrich opened a storefront in the historic warehouse Mac Market, where she whips up brownies, lemon bars and cinnamon rolls that cater to a wide range of diets. Also cooking up tasty treats is Dude Donut City in Salem, which serves night-owl sweet-tooths by remaining open 24 hours 7 days a week. Owned by a family of experienced bakers and doughnut makers, the shop boasts a menu of 65 doughnut options as well as coffee, breakfast items and ice cream. Another family endeavor is Three Daisies Vintage, a shop selling antiques and other cute finds by a mother and her two daughters in Aurora.
Just because you’re in the middle of the state doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy seafood. Antojitos, Spanish for “cravings,” is a new Mexican seafood restaurant in Madras that serves up a lunch and dinner menu of oysters, ceviche and aguachiles. For those in Prineville, you’ve gained a new caffeine source with Upright Coffee Company. The coffee shop serves up not only espresso and lattes but smoothies, breakfast burritos, breakfast sandwiches, and biscuits and gravy. If you’re an art collector, you’ll be happy to learn about Lighter Than Air Gallery, a new gallery and studio in Redmond that offers visitors a sky-high perspective. Launched by Darren Kling, a hot-air balloon pilot who owns Big Sky Balloon Company, the gallery displays Kling’s abstract imagery influenced by his work as a balloonist.
The east side of the state has gained a new attraction with Melincko’s Museum in Wallowa, an aviation museum and cafe next door founded by Laureano Mier, the former director of education at Evergreen Air & Space Museum in McMinnville. With COVID and social-distancing protocols in place, including a self-guided tour option, Melincko’s tells the history of flight, offers space exhibits and has a vertical wind tunnel. Baker City has a new business that offers a new option for those who want to get out and about but don’t want to drive. Elkhorn Taxi offers rides and delivery services with fares starting at $6 in town, with discounts for seniors and students. If you’re looking for a snack in Umatilla, you can feel good about eating out and get your daily dose of vitamins at Fruteria Piqui. The restaurant sells cups of fruit, fresh juices and tasty, fruity frozen beverages.
With the weather beginning to grow colder, now is the perfect time to hunker down for a family game night. Astoria just got the perfect business for the job with Bonsai Hollow, a game store opened by Chris Holloway and his two sons, all of whom are avid gamers and collectors. In Nehalem, Wild Coast Goods offers photos, artwork, jewelry and botanicals in a bright, inviting space. Shop co-owner Ashley Mersereau sells her handmade jewelry creations at her online shop, Roots & Wings. If you’re visiting the Coast and want to grab some pizza, you’ll be delighted by A Slice of Heaven, a new pizzeria in Newport. Using organic sourdough made from high-protein flour, owner George Marrazzo crafts pies using five different sauces and creative toppings like crab and fruit. You can order pizza for takeout or delivery, or dine there at their outdoor seating options.
Mt. Hood and Columbia River Gorge
Oregon beer enthusiasts can enjoy a pint with a view at Mountain View Brewing in Parkdale. The family behind Mt. View Orchards has already ventured into wine and cider but is now trying its hand at a hoppier endeavor, creating the perfect pit stop for a post-hike beer. If you’re heading to the mountain or on your way back home and are in search of a snack, Le Happy Creperie & Bar in Sandy will do the trick. This is the second location of a Portland-based eatery; its extensive menu includes sweet and savory crepes as well as a full brunch menu and inspired cocktails.
If you’re in Portland and up for trying something new, get ready for Japanese pizza toast. Yes, that is really something on the menu at Kimura Toast Bar, a new eatery in North Portland from Matt and Kayoko Kaye, the duo behind Kayo’s Ramen Bar. The new restaurant centers around shokupan, a dense yet soft Japanese milk bread, with a variety of traditional and inventive toppings. Miami Nice, on East Burnside in Portland, adds to the city’s robust list of plant-based restaurants but with a Cuban twist. Items on the menu include “harmless ham” croquettes, golden-brown vegetable empanadas and slow-roasted jackfruit cubanos — you might need to give it a try whether you’re vegan or not. On the sweeter side, Unicorn Bake Shop creates baked goods that are as appealing to your eye as they are to your taste buds. You can stop into the Southeast bakery or make an online order from their menu of custom cakes, macarons, Unicorn Tarts (their take on a Pop-Tart) and Cups of Joy (scraps of cake packaged in a snack-size cup).