Marcus Larson/News-Register##Owner of the newly opened 1882 Grille, Dustin Wyant, helps serve food to
customers during a busy opening day.
Marcus Larson/News-Register##Owner of the newly opened 1882 Grille, Dustin Wyant, helps serve food to customers during a busy opening day.
Marcus Larson/News-Register##Patty Durfee and Bernadette Hermens enjoy lunch on the balcony of the newly opened restaurant, the 1882 Grille.
Marcus Larson/News-Register##Patty Durfee and Bernadette Hermens enjoy lunch on the balcony of the newly opened restaurant, the 1882 Grille.
By David Bates • Staff Writer • 

KAOS opens rooftop restaurant

It has been running drinks, burgers and pizza out to invitation-only, soft-opening crowds. In the process, it has been making sure the computer system works and ironing out various kinks.

Now it’s showtime.

For the first time in more than half a century, and possibly longer, a new building on Third Street in downtown McMinnville is throwing open its doors and inviting people to eat, drink and be merry. To be sure, many new restaurants and bars have opened downtown, but always in renovated rather than new quarters, the largest and most prominent being McMenamins Hotel Oregon.

Bob Emrick’s KAOS project, located at 645 N.E. Third St., was built from scratch on a patch of ground where McMinnville Glass stood previously. Workers used some of the wood and metal from the building in the new structure, helping give it a period look.

It runs three stories, two of which are wholly dedicated. As Operations Manager Dustin Wyant put it, that helps “pull the center of gravity” for downtown retailing east along the city’s flagship street.

The original plan called for inclusion of some hotel rooms as well. But that idea was scrapped, along with last year’s original opening date.

After regrouping, Emrick announced a new target date of May 15. And in the end, he managed to beat that by one day.

The opening comes just in time for the McMinnville Downtown Association’s UFO Festival. It was founded by McMenamins Hotel Oregon, which continues to play a major role.

McMenamins’ rooftop deck is easily visible to the west from the 1882 Grille’s rooftop deck. It’s close enough, Wyant jokes, to make one consider the possibilities of a zip line. 

KAOS, which takes its name from a long-gone McMinnville radio station, also features a 175-seat ground-floor restaurant, Barberry, that spills out onto front and back patios. However, workers say they need another week or so to finish.

The Barberry, designed to provide a fine dining experience worthy of a good wine, will feature steak, wild game, seafood and home-made sausage. And talks are underway with several local wineries about the possibility of setting up tasting rooms inside to complement the experience.

The 1882 Grille, designed to be more casual and less formal, will feature burgers, wood-fired pizza and fish and chips.

Wyant’s experience in the hospitality industry includes management of a pair of high-end, wine-friendly dinner houses in Newberg. So he’s familiar with the synergy among Yamhill County’s winery, restaurant and tourism elements.

But he said to succeed, a restaurant has to appeal to locals as well.

“Tourism out here is still very seasonal,” he said. “So if you rely on that, it’s not going to work.

“It’s a pretty niche market, especially when it’s December. If we can make the local customers happy, the rest will take care of itself.”

While the newness of the KAOS building is obvious on the outside, it’s less so on the inside. And that’s by design.

The interior features a more or less seamless mix of new and old, the latter stemming form a decision to incorporate wood and corrugated sheet metal from the old glass shop. The materials have been touched up, of course, but they suggest nonetheless a place that’s been around for a while.

“Obviously, it’s a new building,” Wyant said. “But we wanted the feel of the place to match McMinnville. We didn’t want to come in and build a Las Vegas-style restaurant.” 

Upstairs, it’s open and airy, with the distinction between eating outside and inside largely obliterated by the garage-door style bay windows that will be rolled up when weather permits. A big-screen TV has been mounted behind the bar, which was fashioned out of wood from the floor of an Independence bowling alley. 

The third-floor restaurant has a capacity of 140, including the bar, a set of tall tables with stools and a complement of regular tables that spill out onto a rooftop deck. A crew of more than twenty has been hard at work for the last week, getting ready for what promises to be a busy opening weekend in the venue. 

“We’ve been practicing,” Wyant said. “We’ve done lunch and dinner four times now.”

The 1882 Grille will be open daily from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Wyant said it might extend its closing time when it’s busy, “but not past midnight.”

The Barberry is expected to open later in the month. For more information, visit www.kaosmac.com

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macgreg

Sounds Great

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