Appetite for expansion: Mt. Angel Sausage owner plans brewery, shop

June 2012 Posted in Business, Food & Drink

By Steve Ritchie Jim Hoke is “bullish” on Mount Angel.

Jim Hoke is a guy who doesn’t sit still for very long.

The owner of Mt. Angel Sausage Co., Hoke is always on the move at his restaurant. On any given day, he will be making sausage, checking supplies, chatting with customers, or tracking down some curry sauce for his sensational currywurst.

Hoke spends a lot of time keeping a watchful eye on the seemingly never-ending remodeling and construction projects at the restaurant. Over the past four years, the entire building on the corner of Garfield and East College has undergone a series of major transformations.

One more major project is underway now, and Hoke swears it will be the last.

“We’ve been remodeling now for four years,” Hoke said. “Every month someone comes in and says, ‘Holy cow, what are you going to do next?’ It’s fun for the customers and it’s fun for us. But I’m sick of it.”

The last sentence was followed by a big laugh, and Hoke added, “Four years of remodeling is enough, dude.”

But, despite his protestations, Hoke is clearly excited by the current project. After acquiring the adjoining building last year, which used to be the Bavarian House (and Frank’s Place before that), Hoke decided to remodel the bar in that part of what is now one large building. He is also planning to build a large deck on the west side, which will extend all around that side of the building.

“Everything is brand new (in the former Bavarian House area). We kept the bar and put a new top on it. We gutted the kitchen but are not using it right now because we already have a kitchen. This side is the adult side (of Mt. Angel Sausage Co.), and the other side is the family side,” Hoke explained. “We’ve lacked that separation for some time and we have needed it at times. It’s just a natural. It’s less cumbersome for everyone.”

Hoke also plans to add a small brewery and a gift shop, which he feels will be perfect additions to the bar and the restaurant. While he is anxious for the remodeling to be done, Hoke is not willing to rush things, preferring to “pay as you go” for the improvements.

“We’re going to open a brewery, but it’s six months out . . . one day at a time.”

The gift shop will be located in the adjacent house, along with the offices for the operation. Hoke said the shop, which will be called All Things Bavarian, will sell a variety of items “not currently available in town.”

Despite the lingering poor economy, which is still impacting the restaurant business, Hoke is confident about what he is doing.

“The future is bright. The visibility is what we need and what we want . . . the visibility from the highway is worth the price of the property itself. That’s a serious intersection right there, and if we give a good product, people will respond.

“I’m bullish on Mount Angel because it is the perfect place to do what we do. There’s huge potential here. I am invested pretty heavily here obviously. The sky is the limit . . . even when I am getting my (posterior) whipped, I think I’m winning.”

Hoke says he feels good about running a business with so many potential diverse components – restaurant, bar, retail sausage, gift shop, brewery – but he never forgets that the core of everything is the German-style sausage that he produces and serves.

“We’re a sausage company with very many facets . . . We are a destination place for a lot of people. They come from Portland and Salem for our menu. My saying has always been, ‘You dance with the girl you brought to the dance.’ “

And, for Hoke, that “girl” is a great-tasting sausage!

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