Little Renaissance at Tiny Oregon Coast Village
(Neskowin, Oregon) – There's a bit of a renaissance in the north Oregon coast village of Neskowin. A tiny town of maybe a mile or two of almost-beachfront homes, the place is known for its sleepy vibe. But in the last year or two parts of it nearly fell asleep – permanently. Being a bit out of the way from most modern commercial conveniences, its tourism businesses became greatly hobbled after its only restaurant and store shut down.
Neskowin sits about 20 minutes north of Lincoln City, and almost ten minutes south of Pacific City. This left those staying in the atmospheric little burgh a bit inconvenienced when they got hungry or needed simple supplies.
Perhaps a tad more than a little put out. No store and no restaurant started to put a bad taste in at least one business owner's mouth, as this situation was denting the local tourism industry. And with Neskowin not being nearly the size of a Cannon Beach, a Seaside or even diminutive Depoe Bay, it couldn't afford to lose much.
Then, just as John Forsythe, owner of the Proposal Rock Inn, was seriously considering shutting the motel down and packing it up, in walk new owners of the store and the restaurant back in the winter. Each seem to be thriving, and the store has some big plans for the little town.
The trouble really started a few years ago, Forsythe said. The stone on which so many in Neskowin depended started to hit shaky times, and gradually it meant a sizable drive to get even the smallest of items.
“The store changed hands about three years ago,” Forsythe said. “That owner soon seemed to lose interest in the business and spent much of his time in Colorado, leaving the day to day duties to a group of reliable but inexperienced young people. The store remained open but the inventory became very sketchy.”
The legendary Hawk Creek Cafe shut down in 2012, after a good 20-plus-year run of making fine food in a relative middle-of-nowhere.
“The previous owner closed it down without warning on July 2, 2012,” Forsythe said. “Tax leans forced the issue but the reason for the financial meltdown can only be speculated on as the place was popular and had a very good reputation.”
Then, experienced Pacific City couple Frank and Genie Ullrich took over the cafe and it reopened early this summer.
“The Ullrich’s also own the Village Merchants Mall in Pacific City and have strong roots in south Tillamook County,” Forsythe said.
It's now called The Cafe at Hawk Creek, and it has been an immediate hit in the area. Like the former place, popular for decades, it too features some rather notable pizza. Online reviews have been nearly ecstatic so far.
The store officially shut down in the spring, but that was because Salem couple Mike and Kim Herbel gad purchased the place and were renovating it. It's now a called the Neskowin Trading Company, and Forsythe called it a transformation.
“Now the Trading Company is much more than a convenience store as it features a deli, take and bake pizza, a wine and gift store, an art gallery and multiple beer and ale growler taps,” Forsythe said.
The store is adding a wine bar and a bistro restaurant is in the works there as well. There is some outdoor seating already.
There are some other pleasantries possible for Neskowin on top of this, sitting across the highway at the old Hawk Creek Golf Course, which shut down in 2007.
“There has been a failed housing development and hazy discussions of a multi-use development over there,” Forsythe said. “I have my own ideas but we will see. It is just nice to have survived the near-death experience and have things looking up.”
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