by Erin Stephenson

It’s so important in life to understand what you know, but far more important still to understand what you do not.

When we first started dreaming about the Atticus Hotel in earnest, the vision of a meaningful and creative luxury hotel always included an unforgettable restaurant and bar. In the hazy mist of dream and imagination this restaurant was a part of the heart and soul of the hotel—a vibrant place, serving unforgettable food & drinks, where guests mixed with locals in a shared experience that pulsed with happy energy. In the heart of Oregon wine country—and catering to guests whose taste buds drive their travel preferences—we envisioned a restaurant that would add an exciting new element to McMinnville’s already lauded culinary scene.

Over the last several years, as our dreams started turning into concrete plans, we knew that we could never execute the dining experience we wanted on our own. With deep respect for the incredible talent and skill that it takes to be a chef or restaurateur, we knew intuitively that we should not go into the restaurant business. Instead, our plan was to recruit a top restaurateur and ask them to work with our architect, Nathan Cooprider, to design their own ideal restaurant for the Atticus Hotel—one that would wow guests and locals alike.

A Dynamic Husband & Wife Team

Just about a year ago I was introduced to some of Oregon’s most exciting restaurateurs—John & Renee Gorham. A dynamic husband and wife team, John and Renee own several of Portland’s most well loved restaurants, and just celebrated the 10 year anniversary of Toro Bravo, where happy diners regularly wait two hours for a seat (enjoying cocktails and small bites to pass the time) and a chance to experience amazingly authentic cuisine inspired by John’s travels in Spain.

During its inaugural year in 2007, Toro Bravo was named “Restaurant of the Year” by Willamette Week and John was named “Chef of the Year” by Portland Monthly. Since that time John and Renee have built an amazing team of partners and passionate employees and launched several other celebrated restaurants, including Tasty n Sons and Tasty n Alder, which created more long lines for great food, and more accolades. (John is the only chef in Portland to have three “Restaurant of the Year” awards from Willamette Week—as well as their “Artisan of the Year” award for his charcuterie shop Viande (later sold and renamed Chop)—a designation that speaks to his relentless passion for food). In addition to the Tasty’s and Toro Bravo, the Gorham’s also own Mediterranean Exploration Company, Shalom Ya’ll, and Bless Your Heart Burgers.

Third n Tasty

Third n Tasty is the Gorham’s first new restaurant outside of Portland and will draw inspiration from Tasty n Sons brunch menu (global brunch favorites) and Tasty n Alder’s dinner menu, with a specific emphasis on cuisine from the great wine regions of the world. Third n Tasty also has an exciting happy hour menu planned and will provide cocktail and wine service in the lobby, as well as in-room dining for our guests. The name, which is a nod to the fact that the restaurant is both the Third in the Gorham’s Tasty series and just off McMinnville’s iconic Third Street, suggests that this restaurant will be the perfect blend of the Gorham’s brand of line-worthy dining experiences and McMinnville’s small town charm.

Sharing their Love for Food

Aside from their restaurants, John and Renee have also shared their love for food through two cookbooks, The Toro Bravo Cookbook: Stories. Recipes. No Bull. and the soon-to-be-released Hello! My Name is Tasty: Global Diner Favorites from Portland’s Tasty Restaurants, which drops August 15th. They also opened PLAZA DEL TORO, a gastronomic society, in April of 2015 as both a private event space and a test kitchen/culinary laboratory and just two weeks ago wrapped their first La Ruta del Toro food festival, which stretched four days and brought chefs from around the world to Portland.

There’s no doubt about it: John and Renee are deeply passionate about food and incredibly gifted at sharing that passion with others. From the moment we met them we knew that the Gorhams would be a great fit for the Atticus Hotel—not just because their passion for amazing dining experiences matches our vision for the hotel, but more importantly because they instinctively feel like they belong in McMinnville.

It’s hard to quantify exactly what that statement means, but for me,  the most special thing about McMinnville isn’t actually the food, the wine, or our beautiful downtown: it’s the people. McMinnville is made up of fun loving, earnest and creative community members, all sharing an ‘all ships rise together’ mentality. Within our business community, we cheer each other on, help each other become successful and welcome new people with open hearts and open minds.

I could very easily apply the same description to John and Renee, who are honestly two of the most hardworking, creative, kind and generous people you’ll ever meet. From our first meeting, John and Renee have been amazing to collaborate with, always giving freely of their experiences and ideas, and rooting all their decisions in a commitment to creating just the right restaurant at the Atticus Hotel. Their enthusiasm to open their first restaurant outside of Portland has been driven in large part by the fact that they are long time McMinnville fans (they were married on a farm outside of town, and celebrated locally at the Hotel Oregon) and are excited to be part of our dynamic local community.

McMinnville Wins Again

And so for me, McMinnville wins again. Over the years our community has welcomed a bevy of talented chefs, winemakers and entrepreneurs, all motivated by a desire to be a part of McMinnville’s collective story, and each bringing new ideas and new energy to our community. John and Renee are joining a group of talented, creative and committed people, and we certainly couldn’t be more excited about that. Very simply, it just feels like they belong here.

So now the wait begins… We are so excited to welcome John and Renee into our community and to enjoy our first meal at Third n Tasty at the Atticus Hotel. We hope you are too.

Third n Tasty to feature Tasty n Son inspired menu items.
Third n Tasty menu items will be inspired by the Tasty n Alder menu
Third n Tasty, a new restaurant from chef and restaurateurs John & Renee Gorham