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Business contributes opening proceeds to artist

Oregon BBQ Company’s grand opening on March 6 was not only a celebration for the business, it was also a chance to reach out to local artist Mark Loehr.

Owners Nate Pendley, Tanner Poff and Adam Cluver have been waiting to secure a brick and mortar location in Lebanon, so they were happy to hear the former Bigfoot Bites building would be available, they said.

The building came fully painted by Loehr, who put a log design on the outside, and a forest scene on the inside. What Pendley, Poff and Cluver eventually learned, however, was that Loehr was never paid for his work, they said.

So on opening day, they gave all their proceeds of the day to Loehr.

“We felt horrible about it, so today the proceeds we raise, we’re going to donate to him,” Poff declared at the grand opening.

By the end of the day, Oregon BBQ had raised $1,000, and handed the check over to Loehr that same week. Current Trends Salon also raised $1,010 for the artist, who also painted two murals for Bigfoot Cave (now under new ownership as Bigfoot Grille) at its 525 Main St. location.

Despite appreciating the talent and time put into the paintings, the owners of Oregon BBQ had a tough decision to make: They needed their business to be painted purple, they said.

“He did such beautiful work and we really struggled with having to paint over it,” Pendley said.

“We wanted to leave it, but we also gotta stay true to our company and our brand, and purple has been what we’ve done from Day One. As much as it pained us to do that, it was something that had to be done; but we’re gonna do everything we can to help the artist get future work, and display some of his work.”

Oregon BBQ started out of a food cart in Albany, and has been known to host an annual “Feed the City” free lunch, in addition to contributing donations for several nonprofits.

Oregon BBQ Co. has a location in Albany and two in Lebanon. The chain serves Lebanon at its “south” location from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday thru Friday, at 3510 S. Santiam Hwy., and at its “main” location from 11 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. Monday thru Saturday, at 1112 S. Main St.

They close early when they are sold out.