Otis Cafe finds new home in Taft

Jeff and Tye England stand together under the salvaged sign outside the new Otis Cafe in Taft. (Photo by Mathew Brock) The old Otis Cafe sign was installed in December at the restaurant and bakery’s new location. (Photo by Kathy Wyatt) The new Otis Cafe stands at 4618 SW off Highway 101 in the Taft area of Lincoln City. (Photo by Mathew Brock)

LINCOLN CITY — Hungry folks in Lincoln City will once again be able to enjoy all the comforts of a homestyle meal cooked up at the Otis Cafe when it and its famous German potatoes makes their return in just a few months’ time.

The England family, owners of the Otis Cafe, are looking to reopen the restaurant and bakery in May, bringing all the comforts of grandma’s kitchen to a new location at 4618 SW Highway 101 in the Taft area of Lincoln City. The restaurant’s historic building in Otis was lost in a fire two years ago, and the family has been looking to rebuild ever since.

“Having been in our previous location for over 20 years, we had customers coming and going from Lincoln City, but things will be different here,” owner Jeff England said. “It’ll take us some time to discover a new flow. We’ll have to see how willing people will be to leave the line as they’re going north into town to stop here and pick up their bread.”

The original Otis Cafe at 1259 Highway 18 burned down on July 4, 2019, and the England family has been working to establish a new location. The family has owned the business, the name and the recipes for more than 20 years but rented the property where the original restaurant was located.

At first the Englands considered rebuilding at that same site, but eventually they decided to try something new and chose a location close to their home in Taft. They considered many possible sites in and around Lincoln City, but eventually settled on the location in Taft when it became available during the search.

The Echo Mountain Complex fire also put some major delays on the new building, with Jeff stating a lot of the local workers he had lined up for the project found themselves or their families caught up in the emergency.

When the new building is finally finished, the original menu will be making a return, featuring both the restaurant’s filling sit-down meals and its to-go baked goodies.

“Our food is like coming home to grandma’s house,” said Tye England, Jeff’s son. “It’s down home, good American food that fills you up, and people regularly come in for things like our German potatoes, hash browns, heaped on a plate with onions and covered in cheese. Good hearty food.”

According to Jeff, the Otis Cafe’s bakery has been just as missed as its restaurant. The family has kept up that part of the business partially in its home kitchen as a certified domestic bakery, often selling goods at the local fair or online. 

Since the fire put its bakery workspace out of commission, however, the family has found it hard to meet demand. Jeff said one of the biggest items people are clamoring to get again is the cafes black molasses bread. Jeff’s other son, Brant England, will be returning as baker when it reopens.

The Otis Cafe’s signature seasoning salt has also remained in high demand, with online orders coming in weekly from all over the country over the last two years.

The restaurant’s new building will seat a maximum of 60 people, more than twice as many as before, with booth and bar seating. The iconic Otis Cafe sign will also be returning after being salvaged from the old building after the fire. 

Space at the previous restaurant was so limited, patrons would have to pass by the kitchen and bakery to reach the restrooms, witnessing staff hard at work on their way through. Jeff wanted to recapture that image, but made sure to do so in a way that was ADA compliant. The new location will have a window near the restrooms where patrons can peer through to see the kitchen and bakery staff hard at work.

“There was a joy and a welcomeness in doing what we did,” Jeff said. “I’d tell my crew, ‘We are a destination,’ and we want to maintain the feeling. It’s hard to put into words, but it’s that home feeling, that nostalgia. Is it going to be easy to recreate? I don’t know if it’s possible, but I want to try.”

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Jeff and Tye England stand together under the salvaged sign outside the new Otis Cafe in Taft. (Photo by Mathew Brock) The old Otis Cafe sign was installed in December at the restaurant and bakery’s new location. (Photo by Kathy Wyatt) The new Otis Cafe stands at 4618 SW off Highway 101 in the Taft area of Lincoln City. (Photo by Mathew Brock)

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