By Starla Pointer • Staff Writer • 

Taylor-Dale building inspires hotel, chef inspires restaurant

It was after they fell for the historic Taylor-Dale building that vineyard owners Shaun Kajiwara and Katie Jackson thought about what to put in it.

They loved the history of the longtime hardware store, its brick facade and its vintage windows and other touches.

“Then we took a look at what kind of business could operate in the space and provide the revenue to pay for” the costly renovations the structure needed, Kajiwara said.

They decided on a boutique hotel, which they named The Tributary. Its eight suites and lobby will fill the second floor of both the Taylor-Dale building and a new structure they erected next door.

Kajiwara said the former apartments upstairs were gutted to make room for the suites, but Craftsman-style millwork and fireplaces were retained. A spring system was added to the floor to help absorb noise from rooms below.

Compared to when it was apartments, the hotel area has a whole new layout. If a person could float above the hotel and look down, they would see the rooms named in honor of Oregon rivers in the same location as on a map. The Columbia River would be on the north side, for instance, and the Rogue River to the southwest.

Two of the suites are in the new building, above the restaurant. Located on the northeast and southeast sides of the property, they are named for the Grande Ronde and Owyhee rivers.

“The history of Oregon is so tied with rivers,” Kajiwara said, explaining why he and his wife chose the method for naming the rooms. “Rivers were such a big part of the settling of Oregon and the Willamette Valley.”

Accordingly, each room is decorated with photos of the river from which it takes its name.

In the center of the hotel area, the lobby is brightened with a skylight — a new skylight that replaced the leaking one that was in the building when the couple purchased it.

The first floor of the new building, 618 N.E. Third St., will hold a destination restaurant captained by Chef Matthew Lightner. It’s named okta, a scientific term that refers to the amount of cloud cover and light on a given day.

The owners made the “o” lower case and added a line over it to make the name stand out, just as they expect the restaurant to stand out.

“It will be a place to celebrate,” a space for special occasions, Kajiwara said.

He and Jackson said they haven’t decided what will fill the first floor of 608 N.E. Third, where hardware once was sold; more recently, it was home to Two Dogs Taphouse, relocated to Fourth and Evans streets.

For the time being, the area is serving as a staging area for construction materials.

“We want to keep it as one big space and not chop it up,” Kajiwara said. “We hope it will be something the community can enjoy with friends and family.”

They have figured out what the building’s basement will become: a lounge area, where locals and visitors alike can order casual bites from okta and a variety of beverages.

Under the eye of wine director Ron Acierto, the lounge will offer wines from Italy and France, as well as all over the Willamette Valley. Selections will include wine made with grapes from Jackson and Kajiwara’s Bramble Hill Vineyard on Ribbon Ridge Road.

In addition, the basement will offer space for events.

Kajiwara said the idea of opening a restaurant developed when they were introduced to Lightner. The James Beard award-winning chef had gone on to lead Atera, a two-Michelin star restaurant in New York City, after a successful run at Castagna in Portland.

“It was serendipity,” he said of meeting Lightner. He shares many of Kajiwara and Jackson’s values, such as a love of Oregon and a commitment to sustainability.

Lightner wanted to return to Oregon to open a restaurant. He was familiar with McMinnville and Yamhill County and the bounty of products they offer.

He also was an acquaintance of Anne Munch, the wife of Ernie Munch, the architect on the Taylor-Dale renovation project.

She introduced the chef to the building owners, and they hit it off right away.

While Jackson and Kajiwara say they haven’t been to one of Lightner’s previous restaurants, they have tried his food. In fact, he has visited their home and they’ve cooked together.

They admire his techniques, which are influenced by Spain and Denmark, countries where he’s also worked, as well as by the Northwest. Much of the seasonal produce Lightner uses will come from Jackson and Kajiwara’s farm.

“He’s very meticulous, very creative,” Kajiwara said, recalling how he cut a branch from their pear tree and used the wood on the grill to flavor meat.

The couple said they’ve hired a stellar team to run Tributary and okta.

In addition to Lightner and Acierto, Christine Langelier is the general manager for the hotel and restaurant.

She comes from a restaurant and service background, and “will bring a real curated experience” to the project, Kajiwara said.

He and his wife are eager for the grand opening, which is expected this summer.

“We wanted to do something great for this area,” Kajiwara said. “We think this will do that.”


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