Kendra Hall, along with her two children, are starting a new journey with the new Kendra’s River Inn – Food & Lodging, in Mohler.
By Jordan Wolfe
Formerly known as the Nehalem River Inn, Hall’s new business opened for lunch and dinner to the public on March 1. However, Kendra’s River Inn will be a bed and breakfast for those staying in one of her four, nearly completed, rooms.
Front of House Manager and Hall’s daughter, Galena Flores says that they closed the doors on their previous business, Kendra’s Kitchen, because the building’s owner had decided to sell the property and did not renew their lease.
“It is a complete blessing. Valerie Schumann and the old owner, Tom, did so much to help,” Hall says, “And I went from being totally debt-free to totally indebted – but all to friends and not any banks.”
Hall will host an open house and house warming at Kendra’s River Inn on Thursday, May 19 starting at 4 p.m. “Mom will be making her favorite food. Hot dogs,” Flores says.
“You tell me one person that cooks for a living that doesn’t eat junk,” Hall retorted.
“The one thing about being up here is the acceptance. The people up here are genuinely excited for us to be here and genuinely want us to succeed,” Hall says of her new North County location. This is the fourth restaurant Hall has owned in Tillamook County, the others being the Whiskey River Creek Cafe near Cape Lookout State Park, Three Capes Cafe in Netarts and Kendra’s Kitchen in Tillamook. “I have some big ideas, but we’re getting the core down and doing it right – we’ve finally gotten into a rhythm in the restaurant and now it’s time to work on the rooms.”
In one of the rooms, a pair of moose antlers adorns a wall, “They’re mine. I shot him on my twenty-first birthday,” Alberta, Canada native, Hall says. “I do have a weird sense of style – eclectic. All of this art is local,” Hall says of the decor in her restaurant, “that’s from an artist in Seaside, that’s from Charlie Wooldridge, and my mom did that,” pointing out the pieces and artists.
Flores says that “everything that means something to Mom is in the restaurant, even pictures of my grandparents, so everyone can enjoy it.”
Joining Hall, in the kitchen, is her son Benjamin Larson as Executive Chef. Larson, whom recently graduated from the Oregon Culinary Institute says, “I became a chef because I have grown up in restaurants since I was very little. When we were in Salt Lake City, I hung out in the back with the Chef. I found him intriguing. Now I enjoy cooking. I love it.”
In Salt Lake City, Hall was the owner of the Cabana Night Club. According to Flores, it was a private night club with formal attire and dueling baby grand pianos. “I couldn’t go into the club, because I was a kid,” Flores says, “but I ended up helping in the kitchen and did some of the gross jobs like dishes and deveining shrimp. I loved it.”
Hall says that even though much has changed since she opened her first restaurant in the county, she has carried along traditions like hand-cut french fries, a secret fry sauce and homemade bread bowls for her chowder since the beginning, along with a menu similar to Kendra’s Kitchen, with new additions.
Similar to life at Kendra’s Kitchen, Hall also lives at the River Inn, “it makes the commute kinda easy. But sometimes you realize that you haven’t left in a week. I can get anything I want delivered,” she says.
“I feel like it’s more like a home – with a really big dining room that people come to eat at,” Flores says, “This place is so amazing. I can see myself owning it one day and keeping it in the family.”
Looking out of the restaurant windows to the view of green pasture land, tall trees and the Nehalem River, Hall says, “it’s kind of magical here, you know.”
Kendra’s River Inn – Food and Lodging is located at 34910 OR-53 in Nehalem and is open Monday through Saturday from 11:30 a.m. to 9 p.m., on Sunday from 1 to 6 p.m. for more information, call (503) 368-7488.