The Wet Dog Cafe & Astoria Brewing Company
I had to go into Astoria yesterday, an hour from Fishhawk Lake and have my sweet dog, Kasa spayed. What better place to wait for her than at The Wet Dog Café?
The Wet Dog Cafe, located at 144 11th St. Astoria Oregon has a great vibe as soon as you walk in the door. There are sweet little “scenes” or venues in the windows all with a dog theme of sorts, from the OPEN sign in the shape of a bone to the Big Dog dressed up for the holidays in one of the front windows.
The décor is a blend of antique signs,
old-fashioned this’n’that, eclectic bits of memorabilia.
It feels historic as soon as you walk in and the extended bar offers their wide selection of their locally made brews and plenty of seating for locals and visitors alike. The massive room is filled with wood, from railings and beams to nicely made mission-style chairs. It makes it warm and inviting instead of cold and cavernous which is probably what they had to start with taking an industrial building and making it fun and funky.
They were advertising halibut tacos on the chalkboard at the entrance and
when I was checking out their salads on the menu, there was a southwestern salad with pulled pork, but I asked if I could have the halibut instead (not being a meat eater). Lynnae, my server and Karen Allen, the owner's youngest daughter went and asked and they were quite accomodating. You can have a half salad--certainly PLENTY for lunch--and is served with a scrumptious piece of bread with some yummy cheesy spread on top that is hot, delicious and I'm SURE fattening! Topped off by an incredibly tasty blue cheese vinegarette salad dressing made for a wonderful way to spend my time waiting for my girl to get through her surgery.
The Wet Dog Cafe offers brew-pub fare, with burgers and such, but they also have some killer salads with fresh catches depending upon the season. They can give you samples of their seasonal or regular Astoria Brewing Company micro-brews. I had the Cranberry Honey Cream--and actually thought that would be my least favorite (as they gave me 3 small samples, a lager, that one and an amber) with my salad, but it was PERFECTION.
This is a family-run business and I mean that in every sense of the word. Steve and Karen Allen own both the café and Astoria Brewing Company. They’ve had their blended family of seven work there through the years and prior to buying this business, Karen was a full-time mother.
She has simply taken that concept and spread it over all of the employees, and they are ALL her family. She is very passionate about it and I had a delightful conversation with her about that tradition. Not only the seven kids, but their friends and others they know have come and stayed as employees or learned valuable lessons about life and moved on.
The Wet Dog Cafe is a very comfortable place and it truly feels like a family run business, which makes sense after talking with Karen and getting her business philosophy. She even shared with me that she made her husband, Steve (a CPA) work all of the shifts--love that!! It gives an owner a true sense of what their employees go through in a business that isn't your first way of making a living. Their biggest tool for success is their employees and you can tell, because everyone seems to enjoy working there. From Ken, the manager with the infectious laugh to the "can do" attitudes of the staff, who are very service-oriented. Relationships are the key for this restaurant's success!
So, if you're buying property at Fishhawk Lake, then this is just an hour's drive to the ocean for a look at a historical town, and enjoy homemade food and libation while watching the boats go by. It's ALL GOOD. (And if you want to enjoy these micro brews but not have to go as far, The Birkenfeld Store four miles away also has them on tap!)
(Here's my girl a couple of days before her surgery. Little did she know....)