By News-Register staff • 

Business Year in Review: Cold snap, closures, and new starts

News-Register file photo##Crews rebuild the Organic Valley Creamery on Highway 99W in McMinnville, heavily damaged by fire in April 2021.
News-Register file photo##Crews rebuild the Organic Valley Creamery on Highway 99W in McMinnville, heavily damaged by fire in April 2021.
News-Register file photo##Dave Queener works on remodel plans for the building at 401 N.E. Evans St., where Two Dogs Taphouse, owned by Dave and his wife, Jami, reopened in September.
News-Register file photo##Dave Queener works on remodel plans for the building at 401 N.E. Evans St., where Two Dogs Taphouse, owned by Dave and his wife, Jami, reopened in September.

The cold spring also was very wet, delaying some planting in addition to interfering with blooming and growing conditions.

Still, field and vineyards finally dried out and the season turned out better than had been feared. Vineyard owners said they didn’t mind a slightly late harvest; the crop looked good.

What will the weather bring in 2023? Not even the most experienced farmer knows for sure.


Organic Valley

A year after its plant burned to the ground on April 20, 2021, Organic Valley Creamery was again accepting milk and starting to produce dried milk powder.

The new facility, finished in late summer, features drive-in bays where tanker trucks can unload milk and additional storage for fluids. A second phase is planned later; the timing will be decided in 2023.

Local officials, as well as those from Wisconsin-based Organic Valley, hailed the reopening. It gives Oregon and Washington organic dairies a place to bring their milk, they said, and it both provides jobs and boosts the McMinnville economy.


Keck rises

Linfield University’s new W.M. Keck Science Center slowly took shape during 2022, one of numerous construction projects in McMinnville and greater Yamhill County.

The new building will connect to remodeled Graf and Murdock halls. Together, the complex will provide offices for staff, classrooms and labs for students from all majors, and plenty of room for collaborative research — a hallmark of Linfield’s science program.

In February 2023, a grand opening is planned as the spring semester starts. Two Nobel laureates are scheduled to speak in conjunction with the opening.


New uses

One of the most common questions asked on local Facebook pages this year was, “What’s going into the old JC Penney building” in the mall at the north end of town.

As the New-Register first reported in January, HomeGoods and Ulta Beauty planned to convert the space into two storefronts. Ulta Beauty debuted in early fall, and HomeGoods in October, donating to the local Henderson House program for domestic violence victims during its grand opening.


Restaurant changes

Even as the economy started to rebound from the pandemic, several local restaurants announced closures.

Morning Thunder ended its popular run on Third Street, and both Community Plate and the Red Hills Kitchen took their final bows on Dec. 18.

But Two Dogs Taphouse, which had lost its lease and closed temporarily at the end of 2021, opened again in a new location in September. The restaurant and taphouse is continuing to expand its hours and menu at 401 N.E. Evans St.

Several new restaurants and wine bars opened, as well.

Humble Spirit, part of the Tabula Rasa/The Ground suite of businesses, opened in the former site of The 411. Okta, a high-end restaurant, opened next to the new Tributary Hotel, which is located in the upper floor of the old Taylor-Dale Hardware building; okta’s bar and lounge are located in the Tributary’s basement.

Food trucks became a bigger part of the dining scene, with a pod of carts next to Grocery Outlet and other carts around town. Offerings now range from burgers at Neely’s, to Thai at Kate’s, to Filipino food at April’s and Taste of the World, to food from various Mexican regions such as Jalisco

And former food truck owners JP and Cyra Kloninger opened Hawaii Five-O-Three in the Morning Thunder space, sharing the kitchen while the latter was still in operation.

In 2023, the popular Hawaii Five-O-Three is slated to move to a new location, the Granary Row building on Lafayette Avenue. Other restaurants are likely to open, close or change as the year goes on, as well.

Pike Road Wines moved to the ground floor corner space in the Douglas Hotel building at Third and Galloway, and Montinore/Landlines wineries combined for a large wine bar known as The Grove, in the former Cornerstone Coffee space, 216 N.E. Third St.


Big planes

McMinnville celebrated two giant planes this year: the Spruce Goose, centerpiece of the Evergreen Aviation & Space Museum, and the 1971 747 cargo plane that sits in front of the museum alongside Highway 18.

Nov. 2 marked the 75th anniversary of the one-and-only flight of the Goose, developed by Howard Hughes during World War II for the intended purpose of carrying troops and equipment.

Hughes himself was at the controls that day when the giant wooden plane taxied across Long Beach harbor. Just seeing the plane taxi was a treat for Hughes Corporation workers and the many spectators gathered along the waterfront. But when Hughes revved the four giant engines and lifted off, they were astounded.

He made a low pass over the harbor, then set the Spruce Goose down, where it would be hangared, then displayed as a tourist attraction. In 1992, Evergreen founder Del Smith and his son, Michael King Smith, acquired it and had it barged, then trucked, to McMinnville. Volunteers refurbished and reassembled it in time for the museum’s aviation building to open June 6, 2002.

On Nov. 2, the museum threw the Goose a 75th anniversary party. They’re planning more activities centered around the huge plane in 2023.

But the Spruce Goose wasn’t the only aircraft that drew attention in 2022. In July, the Yamhill County Sheriff’s Office put the 747 up for auction.

Stripped of its engines, it had racked up about $387,000 worth of storage fees since it was purchased by Jet Midwest following the 2014 Evergreen bankruptcy. Now it would go to the highest bidder.

And it did — The Stoller Group’s McMinnville Properties, which already owned the land on which the plane and the museum sit, won the plane in return for the amount owed for storage. The organization, the sole bidder at the July 28 auction, declared it would stay in place.

Museum supporters were thrilled: they said it’s a good way of attracting passersby to stop at the museum and a good deal for McMinnville’s economy, too.


Changes at OMI

Oregon Mutual Insurance no longer will offer personal lines of insurance, including for homes, autos and vacation dwellings.

The iconic McMinnville company, founded in McMinnville in 1894 and now serving customers across the West, will continue writing policies for commercial businesses, farms and wineries.

Personal insurance policies renewed in 2022 will be valid until their renewal date next year, whether that’s Jan. 1, 2023, or Dec. 31, 2023. But after that, customers will need to find new carriers, the company announced in late November.

“It was a business decision; a tough decision,” said Steve Patterson, OMI’s CEO since 2006.

“We hoped for years we’d be able to continue personal insurance,” he added. The change was not made out of desperation, he stressed, but to make OMI a stronger company in today’s market.


Mack Theater

A year after purchasing the historic Mack Theater and Hotel Yamhill, new owners said in late November they had completed a study of the property and are getting ready to move forward with challenging, but workable, renovations.

“Our goal from the outset of this project was to bring these buildings back to life in a way that lifts our community up, protects what we love and breathes new life into what we’ve lost,” said Erin Stephenson, one of the co-owners of the property.

She and her group, called “Mactastic LLC,” hope to convert the space at Third and Evans streets in downtown McMinnville into “an arts and culture destination with a variety of amenities for both community members and visitors to enjoy.”

“We believe we’ve found a path forward, but there’s still a lot of work in front of us to achieve it,” she said.

With construction expected to start in 2024, they hope to turn the former theater into a venue hosting about 150 events a year, including live music and movies.


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