New owners to keep ‘River City’ hopping … as The Waucoma Club

2 Apr

Mike Allen and Jane Harris will be perfect for the Gorge. They wear multiple hats. Coming soon to their heads, the hat of ownership and management at the space now occupied by the River City Saloon.

Soon to be known, according to Jane Harris, as The Waucoma Club — in homage to the original name of the building.

Building owner Bob Carnahan says the Portland couple were attending an event with Friends of the Columbia Gorge, for which Jane has been the longtime development director. They got into a chat with Scott Cook about opportunities out this way. Cook, author of “Curious Gorge,” told them about Carnahan’s plans to shutter the River City on May 1, and his desire to find a new tenant.

The next day, Allen and Harris were meeting with Carnahan, and very interested, to hear him tell it. But he demurred. Another couple from Seattle was also interested, and apparently on their way down to see it, and Carnahan felt obligated to let them at least have a look. Well, turns out they didn’t show up. And Allen and Harris were eager.

Deal done.

They bring a little hospitality experience to the Hood. They own The Rocking Frog Cafe in the Belmont district of Portland, which Harris’s son operates.

“We just sold our home in the Alameda district, and we’re moving out on Thursday,” Harris says.

They’ve got a 5-year lease for the space. “We plan to close for a few weeks to do some redecorating,” Harris says. “And we plan to upgrade  the food. We’ll be serving good organic soups, salads, sandwiches, pastas, and focusing on entertainment.”

Harris says they’ll keep rock ‘n’ roll in the mix, but add a lot more jazz and blues and bluegrass and maybe even some classical stuff.

Panic alert! Carnahan says Allen and Harris will discontinue sales of canned beer. Whaaaa? No more cheap PBR for the shaggy masses? Well, life IS tough. But Harris said not to worry. You’ll still be able to get PBR, just in bottles. Classier, doncha know?

Dave and Jody Barringer, owners of the Naked Winery next door, are excited that new energy will arrive next door. On top of which, Jody  learns that she and Jane attended schools in the same California town, and had spoken on the phone, because Harris was selling the book that Jody and Ruth Berkowitz authored, “Kidding Around the Gorge.

Small world.


12 Responses to “New owners to keep ‘River City’ hopping … as The Waucoma Club”

  1. David April 4, 2010 at 12:24 am #

    Is it possible for someone to have a restaurant in hood river that doesn’t serve the same menu of organic salads and soups? Organic is great but make something different with organic ingridients. Indian food? Maybe Malay? Just something other than the 6thSt/celilo/brians/3rios menu, please. Please.

    • stuwatson April 4, 2010 at 3:10 am #

      It’s being done. Nora’s Table is all over Southeast Asian and East Indian flavors (full disclosure: my wife and I own it). Also, check out the Thai Fridays menu at Cornerstone Cuisine in the Hood River Hotel. Not to mention, Sushi Okalani and Kaze Japanese for distinct spins on that nation’s flavors.

  2. Jon Cyparski April 13, 2010 at 1:13 am #

    This is excellent!
    Sounds like another great place in town to hopefully listen to some good music and eat some good food.
    Can’t wait to see how they clean up the old place.
    Good Luck Allen and Harris!!

  3. Julie April 15, 2010 at 9:02 pm #

    A Thai Food restaurant is opening on The Heights soon! Keep your eye out.

    Good luck Mike & Jane.
    Sounds great.

  4. Billy Bob April 16, 2010 at 12:40 am #

    Crazy, another yuppy bar in town. Look at all the other ones they sure are doing good. Not. LOL good luck.

    • stuwatson April 16, 2010 at 1:47 am #

      Not sure what makes it a ‘yuppy bar’ in your estimation, but here’s a thought: Try it. You might like it. And if you don’t? Don’t go again.

  5. s schneider April 23, 2010 at 3:09 am #

    Jazz and Blues yes yes yes. but what about the table tennis. It is the new in thing across the USA. Bars are opening in NY City with dozens of tables and they are booked solid. Surely this town can support ONE table???

    • stuwatson April 23, 2010 at 4:58 am #

      There ya go, entrepreneurs of the Gorge. Why stop at one table for … tennis? Why not pong a bunch around a room and turn the chaos loose? It’s not as if there’s a shortage of big spaces that could handle it. Check out the upstairs space above Taco del Mar. Or the space where the CAST Theatre used to perform, next to Crazy Pepper. Be the first in your town to bring the bling to the ping.

  6. tourpros April 26, 2010 at 11:58 pm #

    I think this is a great idea (if done right). The River City has been a hole for a while now with not much making it a place to go. The place needs work for sure but if done right could be great. If I had the coin the idea has crossed my mind. I for one will be happy to see this location change staff, theme, menu and more !!

    • stuwatson April 27, 2010 at 7:09 am #

      Thanks, Chris. We try to touch as many bases as possible. We encourage you and others to share “news” tips, and comment on what we post. We don’t just clip and paste. We try to verify everything we post by talking with the people who own the story. No gossip. Some attitude. All fun. Cheers.

  7. Matt Mesa May 12, 2010 at 10:28 pm #

    Sounds exciting–I know many will look forward to a change. I hope the new owners don’t forget about local musicians and bands–there is a strong music community in the gorge that deserves to be heard.


  1. What Does Waucoma Mean? « Waucoma Bookstore Blog - June 22, 2010

    […] called Waucoma Books & Herbs (see our store history on our website).  The Waucoma Club name is in homage to the original name of the building, the Waucoma Hotel.  You can find out more history about historic buildings in downtown Hood River on Robert D. […]

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