New owner, new hours: New Markum Inn keeps customer favorites

December 2012 Posted in Business, Food & Drink
Connie Cummings of the New Markum Inn

Connie Cummings of the New Markum Inn

By Omie Drawhorn

For many local residents, a trip to the Markum Inn is a journey back in time to home-cooked food such as juicy hamburgers, steaks and chicken.

While the menu continues providing that feel-good food, the restaurant on Highway 213 between Molalla and Silverton has a new owner and an new name.

The New Markum Inn is now owned by  Connie Cummings an experienced restaurant owner who appreciates the restaurant’s traditions.

“The first thing people ask me is ‘What are you going to change?’” she said with a laugh.  Cummings plans on making changes slowly, because “people don’t like change.”

Cummings is no stranger to the restaurant world. She is the former owner of Country Cottage, a restaurant just off the I-5 interchange in Woodburn, that served home cooked breakfasts, lunches and dinners, along with homemade soups every day. The restaurant shut its doors earlier this year after the Oregon Department of Transportation bought the restaurant to make room for future renovations to the I-5 interchange.

She has worked in the restaurant world since she was a teenager.

“When I was 13, I worked with my dad. I always had jobs in restaurants along his route,” she said. She loved the atmosphere in those restaurants in North Dakota.

The New Markum Inn reminds her of the environment of many of the roadside establishments where she worked.

Cummings moved to Oregon from North Dakota 10 years ago and owned the Country Cottage for four years. She moved to the Silverton area almost four years ago and lives a few minutes away from the New Markum Inn.

“I felt right at home in the area immediately,” she said.

In April, she learned Ward Frederick, owner for 17 years, was selling the Markum Inn. She approached him about making a deal.

“It’s this little golden nugget in the middle of nowhere,” Cummings said.

The restaurant’s opening was New Year’s Eve in 1970 and Cummings hoped to bring back a little of that flavor with a grand opening this New Year’s Eve.

The menu at the New Markum Inn is similar to that of the Country Cottage. She has brought along chef Nicolas Aguirre and a couple of Country Cottage employees to help make the transition.

Cummings has added her homemade soups, homemade mashed potatoes and homemade freezer jam to the menu. She’s also  extended the hours so New Markum Inn is open at 7 a.m. for breakfast.

The dark paneling with its faded vintage photos are part of the place’s traditional feel,  but she’s added four new flat screen televisions. Cummings said she may  eventually brighten it up with windows and would like to double the size of the kitchen and expand the restaurant.

She said she loves the people she comes in contact with at the restaurant.

“There are so many down to earth people who come in; it reminds me of where I’m from in North Dakota.”

She said the famous Markum Burger isn’t going anywhere. This burger, which comes in a jumbo and double jumbo size, includes the beef patty, slices of ham, American cheese, and is finished with shaved lettuce and Thousand Island dressing.

“I’m not going to touch that,” Cummings said of the restaurant’s trademark.

Cummings said she’s had a really good response from customers so far.

She said her favorite part of the restaurant business is the people.

“I love the customers and coworkers; I’ve never seen harder workers.”

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