OurBar opened in downtown Washougal seven years ago, bringing a burst of youthful energy to Main Street. The whimsical paintings of animals standing upright in formal attire, the mix-and-match vintage mugs, and the handmade reclaimed wood tables and bar created a relaxed, hipster vibe. The menu featured scratch-made comfort food filled with locally grown ingredients.
Anyone who has walked by, perused the menu or followed OurBar’s social media can tell things have changed.
I met with owner Alex Yost to get more insight into what has changed, what remains the same and what the future holds for this beloved cafe.
• Alex Yost still owns OurBar.
OurBar was opened by Yost and her then-boyfriend, future husband and soon-to-be ex-husband Kevin Credelle. He was the friendly guy behind the bar who became the public face of OurBar.
Yost was there the entire time in her comfort zone: the kitchen. She earned a degree from Oregon Culinary School and has cooked in kitchens throughout the West Coast. When the couple split, it became apparent that Yost should take over OurBar.
• You still can’t move the tables.
One of the quirks of the OurBar menu is that it clearly states that you can’t move the tables.
You still can’t move the tables. The space is small and the tables are carefully placed to maximize space. The owners made most of the tables themselves and it pains them to hear their creations scraping across the floor like garbage cans.
• Brunch is over.
Brunch died due to its own success. Too many people showed up in big groups, wait times increased, and it became impossible to get food out to hungry brunch-goers in a timely fashion.
The kitchen at OurBar is tiny and can fit only so many eggs and pancakes at a time. Yost thought about investing in equipment to expand the kitchen, but the cost was prohibitive.
• The biscuits are gone, too.
This makes me sad. My cravings for those biscuits inspired many trips to Washougal. However, they were extremely labor-intensive.
The gravy was made from wild boar sausage. Yost made the sausage and made the stock for the gravy daily. The biscuits also required expensive ingredients that no longer needed to be bought if the biscuits were eliminated from the menu.
• There’s a new menu.
It features pancakes, eggs, French toast — simple breakfast food. It streamlines the business of cooking and getting food out.
A permanent lunch menu is in the works with burgers, soup, savory bread pudding and lunch specials.
Recently, the lunch special was a winter vegetable risotto with lemon zest and San Marzano tomatoes cooked in a Parmesan broth and served with raw shaved Brussels sprouts.
• OurBar will offer monthly suppers.
Yost has teamed up with Vivianne Marks, winemaker at Ram Cellars, for a five-course dinner on the last Saturday of every month.
This month’s supper has a birthday theme in honor of Yost’s 33rd birthday. The dishes reflect her family’s food traditions.
The main course is her grandma’s fried chicken with mashed potatoes and gravy served with green peas. Everyone gets their own chocolate raspberry cakes for dessert.
The cost is $125 per person, which includes gratuity and wine. All OurBar suppers are limited to 10 guests seated at a communal table.
• Yost plans on offering cooking classes.
“I joke that in my retirement, I’ll start a cooking school,” Yost said.
She isn’t retiring, but she plans to start classes with bread-making and kitchen essentials.
In the last year, Alex Yost had a baby, was elected to the Washougal City Council, ended a long-term relationship and took over a business by herself. These life changes have led to changes at OurBar, but she said she isn’t going anywhere.
“These decisions were tough,” she said, “but, I’m making them because I want to be here.”