By Brad Mosher
When Jacob Burden reopens the Offshore Grill in Rockaway Beach, there will be some changes on the menu.
It will be fresh food from local sources, Burden promised.
One big addition will be an evening meal, which is something the former owners did not offer their customers.
It took a life-or-death situation that would lead Jacob and his wife, Michelle, to jump at the chance to own the small restaurant and coffee shop with frontage on Highway 101 near the center of town.
Their youngest son has been going through chemotherapy for leukemia, which meant the parents and the family put their lives on hold while the son was battling the disease at a Portland children’s hospital.
The chemotherapy and treatment schedule has changed enough to allow the family to focus on getting back to work, Jacob said. “At one point, we could be at Doernbechers one to three days a week. Now, it is going to be about once a month.
So when the owner of the Offshore Grill talked to the Burdens, the timing was right, the couple said. “We haven’t really worked for the last six months. Our son got diagnosed two months after we got married. Here we are, the happiest time of our lives coming back from our honeymoon, thinking about buying a home and our two-year-old son gets diagnosed with leukemia. We stopped working and were taking care of him and our other three kids. It was certainly a hard time in our lives.
“We took him (Taylen) to urgent care and within six hours, he was at Doernbechers in the ICU,” Jacob said. “Our whole live was completely put on hold. It was all about getting him better, but also taking care of the other kids and being there for them through this.”
According to Burden, the past six months has been very chaotic for the family. “You are on pins and needles when your two-year has cancer and no immune system.”
During the visits, the family would find Doernbecher Hospital was serving more than just the generic “hospital food” to the patients and in its cafeteria. Its stress of healthy diets and foods made a big impression on both Jacob and Michelle.
“Doernbechers helped a lot,” the couple said. “They had the most amazing vegetables. I would get up early in the morning just to get them,” Michelle said. “They would offer smoothies, fresh fruit – it was just amazing.”
It also had an impact on their son. “He didn’t want the fries. I loved nuts – almonds. I was watching my son’s eating habits adapt. He was eating food that was making him feel better,” Jacob said. That was when he started doing more research into the food in his son’s diet. “Kale is one of the healthiest things you could ever eat.”
The Burdens have been thinking about going into a local business for about six years, according to Jacob. He said he was looking for a local opportunity for several years.
“The previous owner came to us,” Michelle said. “She was our neighbor for the last two years. I think she just came to a point where she just wanted to give this part (the restaurant) up.”
According to Jacob, she had known the Burden family was looking for a local business opportunity.
“We want to be supporting the local farmers, fishermen and agricultural. Keeping it local, keeping it fresh and keeping it in season,” he said.
“When Talyn got cancer, we started doing a lot of research. We learned a lot about the immune system,’ he said. What the family has learned about healthier eating will be a big part of the menu with the new Offshore Grill, the couple explained.
“We learned this stuff it and we want to bring awareness. It is not just about cancer. It is about sustainable food and eating better,” Michelle said.
“I think it is the way food businesses are going anyway. Its going back to its roots and with what this county and state in general has to offer, there are a lot of connections,” he said.
Family friends and acquaintances have played a role in the new business plan and have formed some of the connections for the couple as they open their restaurant. The couple offer Sleepy Monk brand of brewed coffee from a friend in Cannon Beach.
The Burdens are also trying to build a strong local supply network with farms like Kingfisher Farms.
The job market was not a good fit for the family for the past six months because of the chemotherapy and visitation needs, the couple admitted. “Our schedules and lives right now have been so chaotic. How do you present someone with your crazy schedule,” Michelle said. “How can a boss work around it?”
That was why the Offshore Grill is a perfect fit for the family, according to Jacob. “Our option was to be out on our own,” Michelle said. “We looked at getting a little food cart, but with four children, how are we going to do it?”
The decision was instantaneous when they found out about the Offshore Grill going on the market. “We came in here and it was like immediately, we knew we wanted it,” Michelle said.
Although they have spent several weeks working on the restaurant preparing for its reopening, there will be some changes, but it will not be losing its distinctive driftwood décor, the couple said.
“We want to stress fresh vegetables as much as possible,” Michelle said. “But we’ll still have fries. Everybody loves fries.
Jacob stressed that quality will be a big part of the restaurant’s menu. “Ther is going to be butter. There is going to be cream. There is going to be red meat,” Jacob said.
“Agricultural fusion is the way we are describing our cuisine,” he said. “It’s farm to table,” Michelle added.
The couple said they are going to provide organic fare and make sure it is GMO (genetically modified organism) free.
In fact, the Burdens said they are willing to work with people who have very strict diets because of allergies or other health restrictions. “We’ve had people come to restaurants with cards saying they couldn’t have butter, meat and soy,” she said.
“Me, I want to take that challenge,” Jacob added. “But, we have got to keep it fresh.”
That means supporting the community by getting the food and vegetables locally.
The Offshore Grill will be open from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m, while the coffee shop will be open from 7 a.m. until 3 p.m. There will be continuous coffee service in the restaurant, Jacob added.
The Offshore Grill will be open seven days a week during the summer (June 1 through October), but right now it will be five days a week (Wednesday through Sunday), the Burdens said.