New enterprises pop up around Lebanon

By Sarah Brown
Lebanon Local
Despite the pandemic and the tenacity of the COVID-19 virus to linger and disrupt business, some new businesses still managed to pop up like stubborn flowers in rocky terrain; and what interesting flowers they are.
Here’s a peek at some of Lebanon’s newest businesses and the people who run them.

Cafe Rock, 80 E. Ash St.
Remember the story of “Stone Soup,” wherein a hungry traveler heats a pot of water and places a stone inside? Curious villagers begin sharing bits of food to improve the soup’s flavor until, in the end, there’s a pot big enough to share with the entire village.
Well, Cafe Rock isn’t a place where you can find stone soup, but like the story, its food is made from scratch, and a mix of people converge to share in a common interest: music. Live bands and musicians, such as Bluesmind and James Wright, plug in on some nights, and open mic jam sessions might become a regular occurrence.

Guests wait for their food.

Owner Jamie Caudle opened her restaurant in March and added a doorway to the neighboring business, Ash Street Music Exchange, which has been owned for two years by her husband, Chad, and his brother, Cory. Industry seems to run in the family: Chad’s sister, Shannon Miller, owns Bloom Boutique, and his other sister, Shellie Jackola, leases out several downtown buildings. Chad also operates his own Caudle Trucking Co.
Finding a restaurant location next to her husband’s business made all the notes fall into tune for Jamie.
“We knew as soon as we had the location that we had to do rock-themed,” she said. “We had to, because of our love for music and opening it up to the music store.”
Growing up, music was an instrumental element in the couple’s lives.
“Music runs deep in the roots for all of us,” Jamie said.
Chad’s grandparents were members of the Old-Time Fiddlers, and his mother sang lead for Oregon band Amarillo. Jamie’s mom played piano and her dad, who had a rock band in the Navy, played guitar.
“I remember growing up, laying in bed and hearing Dad sitting out there picking on his guitar,” Jamie said. “It was just something that was always there. Always there.”

Ash Street Music Exchange, owned by Chad and Cory Caudle, is situated next door to Cafe Rock.

Lava lamps, planet lamps and glowing jukeboxes are featured on the diner’s tables, and its walls highlight well-known and lesser-known musicians, along with a pair of choice electric guitars on display. The menu offers burgers, sandwiches, soups and salads, including vegetarian and gluten-free options, as well as different fish-and-chips baskets and cheesecakes made from scratch.
First-time employee Kaitie Dominy expressed delight in her first job, explaining how nice her boss was and how the customers were always happy. She made it sound like an episode of ’80s sitcom “Cheers,” where, she said, customers are like friends and family who upon entering exclaim, “I missed you!”
Dominy helps serve some of Jamie’s signature dishes, such as the Rock ‘n’ Roll and Heavy Metal burgers, or the Thin Lizzy Mint Chocolate Cheesecake. And the soups, just like in the story, are made from scratch, with names like kielbasa kale bean, cowboy stew, creamy chicken taco, mushroom and barley, or Italian lentil, to name a few.
“I have a lot of older folks who are interested in what the soup of the day is,” Jamie said. “The ladies at the (Linn County Arts Guild), the soup is their favorite.”

Makers Studio, 585 S. Main St.
First-time business owner Jessica Burnham has a lot on her plate, and it’s not just sugar cookies. The mother of two purchased Makers Studio almost three months ago and moved it to a larger location downtown where she teaches cookie- and cake-decorating classes.

Owner Jessica Burnham gives a little one-on-one detail instruction during a cookie-decorating class.

But Makers Studio is more than just a place to decorate treats while sampling the royal-infused icing when no one’s looking. Artists use the space to teach other crafting classes, such as painting, card-making and woodwork, and vendors lease space throughout the building to sell household goods, vintage items and craft supplies.
Burnham’s cookie classes have included designs with bees, strawberries, flowers, frogs, ducks and rainbows, and her cake sessions have taught students to make tropical flower “spatula” designs and flower-themed hedgehogs. When Burnham isn’t teaching, she’s working on cake, cupcake and cookie orders, which proves to be the cornerstone of her business.
Wedding and graduation season keeps her busy, and birthday orders have included requests for such intricate cake designs as Spider-Man, Peppa Pig and a Sphinx. For cookie requests, Burnham uses a 3-D printer to create any custom cookie-cutter shape she needs, and she can even transpose photographs onto cookies. Do-it-yourself-ers can purchase custom cutter shapes, cookie kits, and cake or cookie decorating supplies from Makers Studio.
Prior to this job, Burnham spent 23 years at a local grocery store, and had more recently been running a side hustle selling homemade cakes and cookies. She picked up the skill during a stint in the store’s bakery department, and improving upon it through YouTube videos.

Burnham decorates some special-order cookies for graduation.

She started taking cookie classes from April James, who opened Makers Studio in 2020, and soon began helping her with large cookie orders. Burnham had been wanting to start her own business, and one day the opportunity was offered to her like a fresh-baked pan of cookies. James was moving to Texas and wanted to sell.
“That was the turning point,” Burnham said.
Though it was a scary decision, she was ready for a change. Now she has a work schedule she controls, and her family helps with baking, decorating and packaging.
“I look forward to it,” she said. “I’m not making as much as I did, but I’m so much happier.”

The Reptile Room, 1260 S. Main St.
Like many country boys, Jon Bidwell spent his childhood playing in the dirt and grabbing snakes. His wife, Altaira Bidwell, did the same, but picked up bugs instead. She dreamed of someday owning a business and he dreamed of working with reptiles, so they put their dreams together and bought The Reptile Room last January.
Formerly PNW Exotic Pets, which opened less than two years ago, the bugs-and-critters store is the only shop in town providing reptiles, amphibians, arthropods, feed, enclosures and supplies for the local enthusiast. But some people will drive from as far away as Eugene or Salem to get what they’re looking for because supplies aren’t always easy to find, the Bidwells said. Recently, a customer drove an hour to buy some White’s tree frogs, and another drove two hours for a uromastyx.
“People will drive lengths to get what they want,” Jon noted.
It’s a somewhat obscure shop, located off the large parking lot on W. Elmore and S. Main streets. According to Jon, it’s “kind-of one of those cool kid club things,” though they don’t mean it to be that way. “If you’re in the know, you’re in the know, but if you’re not, you drive all the way to Albany,” he said.

Jon Bidwell pulls out a fire corn snake.

But for those who find the place, reptile buffs can discover bearded dragons, different kinds of snakes, tegus and anoles. For the arthropod aficionado are tarantulas, scorpions, mantises and centipedes, and amphibian lovers can find the Pacman frog or the popular White’s tree frog.
Baby bearded dragons and tailless whipped scorpions, which “look like something out of a horror movie,” are among The Reptile Room’s more popular items, Jon said. But a smorgasbord of feed also moves off the shelves. Among the buffet are products such as mealworms, crickets, hornworms, assassin bugs (which, Jon believes, were the inspiration for the Starship Trooper alien bugs), canned crickets and snails, and mice and rats, but they’re also looking to expand their bioactive products with a substrate mixture and the isopod “clean-up crew.”
When Altaira works her main job at Lowe’s Regional Distribution Center, Jon and employee Sarah Schilling help hold down The Reptile Room. They’ve taught her so much about the world of reptiles, amphibians and bugs, she said.
Altaira always loved animals, from tigers and horses to cats and dogs, but also all the bugs and reptiles, she said. Growing up, she had cats and dogs, but her parents never supported keeping reptiles as pets, so it was Jon who opened up that world, she said. Together they started with a bearded dragon, and their collection grew from there.
At home, their menagerie includes some ball pythons, a bearded dragon, a plains hognose and a white-throated monitor. Plus, Sarah keeps her skinks, tarantulas and tegus there.
“If you think the animals down here are cool, you should see the house,” Jon said of their collection.
Altaira likes the unusual creatures for their variety, different personalities and the different ways they morph and eat, she said.
“It’s just something different, something out of the norm,” Jon said about the critters’ appeal. “People don’t normally look at them as a pet-type animal.”

South Santiam Recreation Rentals, SouthSantiamRecreationRentals.com
Benji Utley looks forward to the day his son gets his first little fishing pole and catches his first little fish with joy, but for now he’ll strap the 11-month-old to his chest and wade in the river for a little fly fishing.
There’s just that special something about being outside with the water that connects him to nature, Utley said, and he wants to help locals have a chance with that type of encounter by providing kayaks and paddle boards for rent through his new business, South Santiam Recreation Rentals.
Utley grew up working with his family’s race horses in Waterloo until he branched into land surveying for six years. He left his job about a year ago when his wife had their child.
“Now I’m a stay-at-home dad and South Santiam Recreation Rentals is my pet project,” he said.

Provided photo

According to Utley, the closest place to rent a kayak or paddle board prior to his business was Eugene or Salem. Besides being local, what sets him apart is that he provides delivery and pick-up service, if nearby. As he expands his business, he wants to offer small fishing boats and campers, as well as guided fishing tours.
Typically by now, mid-June, he would’ve seen up to 100 vehicles parked at Bates Bridge and a slew of floaters drifting down Santiam River, but there have been none so far. This year’s weather, he admits, has been unusual.
But cold weather won’t stop him. It’s nothing for Utley to peel himself out of bed in the early morning and “hit the ground running” for some good fishing. If anything, it just brings him “closer to God,” he said.
When he’s on the river, whether kayaking or fishing, he’s stepping away from the world and simply absorbing nature (or just thinking about how badly he wants to catch a fish), he said. “It’s like clarification for me.”

Provided photo

Now, with 15 kayaks and 10 paddle boards in hand and a willingness to deliver, the 40-year-old can share that experience with others. The best place to paddle, he said, is at Foster Lake. It’s also good for kayaking, but the South Santiam River also proves a great location for the sport.
And as you’re riding down the river, you might just catch Utley throwing a line out, maybe with his baby in tow. It was his dad and grandfather who influenced him to be outdoors, out working with horses or hiking or hunting or fishing; so maybe he’ll pass that love of nature on to his little boy.
“It’s a necessity in life that kind of cleanses the soul,” he said.

Tallman Brewing, 2055 Primrose St.
On Dec. 9, 1851, James and Catherine Tallman laid claim to a land donation four miles northwest of Lebanon. A church, public school, post office and railway station were erected there, and by 1910 the town of Tallman reached its peak population of 45.
Today what seems to remain of the town, abandoned some time after World War I, are old rail lines and Tallman Road, a two-mile nod to the pioneer settler located between Spicer and Gore drives. It was here where Aaron Pack learned to brew beer in his friend’s garage. Some two decades later, Pack would see his dream of running a full-operation brewery come true when he was offered the opportunity to build behind the Lebanon Retail Center off Airport Road.

Visitors order beer at Tallman Brewing while waiting for their food orders.

This past April, The Landing at Tallman Brewing opened for business, providing on tap 30 beers, ciders, kombucha and wine from the Pacific Northwest, including some of Pack’s own, such as Loggers Lager and Corked Boots ale. It also has Lebanon’s first food pod.
“When we first sat down with this property, we were thinking about how we would make a successful business,” Pack said.
Adding a restaurant wasn’t feasible due to limited space, he said, but food pods in other cities made sense, especially when COVID-19 mandates required outdoor seating, open space and lots of ways to social distance.
“It was an easy decision,” he said.
With a focus on varied menus, The Landing includes trucks serving Hawaiian, Greek, Thai, Mexican and Indian food, as well as burgers, teas and sweets. Their newest addition, Sammich, provides hot and cold sandwiches with a Chicago Italian flare. Sammich, well-loved already in Ashland and Portland, fit with Pack’s vision of diversity.
“We didn’t have a lot of traditional meat and potatoes, you know, the comfort food of a sandwich (with) pastrami, smoked meats,” he said.

Ryden Wilson places a token in a giant Connect Four game with her brother, Gavyn, watching while Allison Northrup (yellow dress) waits her turn.

Pack earned his degree in chemical engineering with a focus on environmental engineering at Oregon State University and spent much of his post-graduate career at Wah Chang while his wife, Kimberly, home-schooled their daughter. Now Kimberly helps manage Tallman Brewing, and their friends pitch in as the brewery’s sensory panel.
Kimberly said an important aspect to them as business owners was to create a family-friendly atmosphere amid the fact that it’s a brewery. As such, a small grassy area invites families to play a giant Connect Four game or toss a few rounds of cornhole, and a fresh bowl of water sits near a table for any four-legged guests.