Along the Street: Company unveils table for warmth, ambiance

Marcus Larson/News-Register ## John Mead, founder of Vesuvian Forge, demos a new product, the Pompei Fire Table. Made of special low-carbon-emission concrete, the table can be used for outdoor dining at restaurants, homes and wineries.
Marcus Larson/News-Register ## John Mead, founder of Vesuvian Forge, demos a new product, the Pompei Fire Table. Made of special low-carbon-emission concrete, the table can be used for outdoor dining at restaurants, homes and wineries.

A fire table to warm customers in outdoor dining facilities is the latest creation of Vesuvian Forge, an environmentally friendly concrete products company started in McMinnville in 2019.

Founder John Mead and his crew showed off a table for 12 Tuesday outside Red Hills Kitchen in downtown McMinnville. The chilly, damp weather was ideal for visitors to experience the warmth of the fire table.

Made from a specially formulated concrete, the black surface includes a center line of flames that can be adjusted to heat and light.

Operating on propane gas and capable of 27,000 BTUs of heat, it is the most powerful fire table on the market, according to Mead.

Diners can rest their hands, plates and glasses on the surface beside the flames, or sit or stand nearby for the warmth.

Mead said Vesuvian Forge already has installed several of the fire tables. One is at Ken Wright Cellars, another at Park & Main restaurant, both in Carlton.

While he expects eateries and tasting rooms to be his main customers, the company also will be installing fire tables on residential patios, including one in the McMinnville area this spring.

Mead, formerly co-owner of the Cellar Ridge green homebuilding company, had the pandemic in mind when he developed the fire table. It’s a useful piece for restaurants forced to add outdoor spaces in order to accommodate diners, he said.

However, the fire table will remain a valued addition long after social distancing requirements, he said. “It’s functional art,” he said. “Why do we go to a winery? For the quality of the facilities and the ambiance. This makes the experience more beautiful.”

Vesuvian Forge also sells a coffee-table height fire table, as well as the dining table height. Models run about $6,000 to $7,000, depending on size and type of installation.

The tables and other products, such as counter tops and pavers, are made with the low-carbon footprint concrete mixture Mead’s company developed.

He calls it “the most sustainable concrete mix in the industry.”

Making traditional concrete accounts for 7 percent of the world’s concrete emissions, he said.

Vesuvian Forge is headquartered at 1445 N.E. Miller St., Suite B5, McMinnville. It can be reached at 971-267-2690 or through its website, www.vesuvianforge.com.


Chili challenge

The By-Pass Bar & Grill in Dayton will host its third-annual chili cook-off Sunday, March 7.

Anyone can enter a pot of chili by bringing it to the restaurant, 400 Ferry Street, by 2 p.m. that day. After a panel of judges chooses the winners, participants and spectators can take part in a chili feed. The By-Pass will provide cornbread, crackers, cheese and other fixings.

Owner Mylee Smith started the event when she first opened the By-Pass. “February and March are slower times for restaurants, so this brings people in,” she said. “Besides, winter is a great time for chili.”

She also hosts a salsa making contest in September, when cooks have an abundance of garden produce.

The first By-Pass chili cook-off drew 19 entries, including chilis that were vegan or vegetarian, made with duck or white beans, and more traditional red, beef types. 

Only five chilis were entered in February 2020, but Smith figures that was her fault: she scheduled the contest on the same day as the Super Bowl, so many potential entrants stayed home watching the game.

She hopes the contest can take place inside. But if social distancing requirements prevent that, the By-Pass has a large, heated tent for the event.

Her husband, James Smith, runs the contest while she tends the bar and restaurant. Judges are not regular customers, so they can be impartial.

Spectators also will get to vote on a “People’s Choice” award, in addition to the first, second and third-place plaques awarded by the judges.

Smith and the By-Pass have also been participating in the Melt Down grilled cheese fundraiser for the Yamhill County food bank, which continues through Feb. 28. The By-Pass is featuring a “BCT Melt,” with bacon, cheddar and American cheese, and fresh tomatoes on grilled sourdough bread.

While Melt Down traffic has been down this year because of the pandemic coupled with weather events, Smith said, it’s still been worth participating in. “It’s a fun, fun thing, and people love it,” she said.

For more information about the By-Pass and the chili cookoff, call the restaurant at 503-864-2224.


Aliens return

McMenamins announced a new date for the popular UFO Festival this year.

“Since we’ve already been living the plot of a sci-fi movie for the past year, we are ready for McMenamins UFO Festival 2021!” the company posted to the Hotel Oregon Facebook page this week. “Stay safe, stay healthy and keep looking to the skies!”

The festival, normally in May, will run Sept. 23-25. McMenamins said the speaker lineup will be announced this summer.

For more information, visit ufofest.com.


What’s going up?

Here are some commercial building projects underway in McMinnville:

- On Cumulus Avenue across from the hospital, McMinnville Eye Clinic is building a new office structure to replace its current quarters at 235 S.E. Norton Lane.

The one story building of more than 11,000 square feet will include both offices for eye exams and treatment and an area to choose and buy glasses. Completion is expected in late summer or early fall.

- A new apartment complex is being built on Doran Drive, a few blocks from Highway 99W near Wilco and Winco in northeast McMinnville. The Hidden Meadow Apartments will include 12 units at 2730 N.E. Doran Drive.

- The new Granary Row, a collection of small eateries with a common food court, is under construction at 1039 N.E. Lafayette Avenue.

- A new urgent care clinic is just breaking ground in south McMinnville. EIG14T Development and National Urgent Care Development LLC, based in Michigan, are building the clinic at 1755 S.W. Baker St. The developers have a partnership with Eugene-based Nova Health.


OnlineNW changes

OnlineNW COO Eric Yeaple is leaving the company to take a business development manager position in Ohio, his home state.

Yeaple has been part of the OnlineNW team since 2006 and COO for a decade. Since then, the company has grown from a small telecom business with few hundred customers into one of the largest providers of internet services in the Willamette Valley.

He started as a field tech and worked his way up to become “a great leader (who would) help to shape every aspect of who we are today,” according to OnlineNW CEO Kathy Tate. “He is one of the best examples of a compassionate leader that I have ever known. I have learned and benefited greatly from my time working alongside him.”

Danae Kelley, OnlineNW operations manager, will assume the majority of Eric’s COO responsibilities.


Chamber events

The McMinnville Area Chamber of Commerce’s Business Support Series “Workforce & Economic Forum” on Tuesday, March 2, will feature information about the pandemic and its impact on business and industry.

The noon event is free to Chamber members.

McMinnville Economic Development Partnership will co-host the forum. Oregon Employment Department Regional Economist Patrick O’Connor will discuss prospects for recovery, as well as the impact of the pandemic.

On Tuesday, March 16, Women in Business will offer “The Importance of Planning: Wills, Living Trusts and Probate.” Attorney Melinda Leaver Roy of Sherman, Sherman, Johnnie and Hoyt, LLP, will speak. The program will be presented on Zoom starting at 5 p.m. 

To register for either program, go to the Chamber website, mcminnville.org.


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