The Drift Inn grows and evolves

The Drift Inn, in the center of Yachats, is a cozy inn, as well as a restaurant. The Yachats Mercantile features bread baked in a wood-fired oven. (Photos by Jeremy Burke) The Drift Inn’s year-round patio is arguably one of the best on the central coast, as is their pizza.

YACHATS — An eclectic crowd moves through Yachats. With live music, great food and a friendly atmosphere, as well as a number of recent improvements, most locals and visitors find their way to The Drift Inn, at 124 US Highway 101 in the center of town.

Fast becoming an institution in downtown Yachats, in addition to being a popular restaurant with a varied menu, The Drift is an actual inn, too. There are 15 rooms in the center of town just across from Yachats Bay. Owner Linda Hetzler used to use the space for employee housing, but it was trashed, she said. As employees moved out, Hetzler’s contractor husband, Tom Smith, renovated the rooms, now a cozy inn.

Smith built a wood-fired oven to bake The Drift’s popular breads. Pizza soon followed, the oven doing double duty. The Drift’s thin-crust pizza rivals any on the coast. The patio, too, is among the area’s most impressive and extensive. Smith’s talents are evident in the custom tables and the large but cozy space. Even in winter, the patio is a wonderful place to gather to drink and dine fireside. 

The grilled romaine salad is a perfect compliment to the wood-fired pizza. Pacific Northwest king salmon and halibut are featured on the menu, and local seafood is often offered as a special menu item. The burgers at The Drift are good, too. Everyone’s favorite brunch item, Dungeness crab Benedict, is on the menu.

Usually employing around 60, The Drift currently provides 50 jobs in the local economy. Hetzler’s commitment to the growth and improvement of The Drift is notable, though she made the costly improvements to accommodate the crowds that were largely absent this year due to restrictions in place as a result of the pandemic.

She credits the local community, which came out in support of The Drift at the onset of the closures, for getting the business through the challenging time. The popularity of the prepared meals, breads and pastries now being offered at Yachats Mercantile helped, too, Hetzler said, when the crowds that usually arrive with spring break stayed home this year. The Mercantile offers cinnamon rolls, as well as deli sandwiches and other prepared food, a convenient option for tourists in hotels and busy locals.

Supporting local artists, The Drift’s walls and hallway display art and other unique items. Even the umbrellas, a unique decor feature, are available for purchase. Hetzler discovered the lovely and sturdy umbrellas when visiting her daughter studying in Italy. The designer umbrellas, some works of art themselves, are hung open and upside down from the ceiling. She noted that, practically, they serve to improve acoustics in the restaurant. 

Starting at $145, the umbrellas are often purchased and carried in cities in the valley, locals rarely seen sporting umbrellas. Hetzler noted the umbrellas are sturdy and strong.

While capacity has been reduced, The Drift, filled with color, art, music and laughter, offers breakfast, lunch and dinner, as well as take out. Room reservations can be made online. Learn more at www.the-drift-inn.com.

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The Drift Inn, in the center of Yachats, is a cozy inn, as well as a restaurant. The Yachats Mercantile features bread baked in a wood-fired oven. (Photos by Jeremy Burke) The Drift Inn’s year-round patio is arguably one of the best on the central coast, as is their pizza.

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