Monday, June 14, 2010

New Lunch Menu

We at the ODB are shortly to release our newest Lunch Menu. New items will include several summer salads such as a Chicken and Green Bean Salad with roasted red potatoes tossed in our Garlic Ranch Dressing as well as a Garden Tuna Salad. Also in the tuna vein will be a Tuna Melt and a cold Tuna Salad Sandwich. A house roasted and sliced Roast Beef Sandwich and tasty Veggie Sand will join the popular Cold Turkey and Sweet Ham San as half sandwich options. Let's not leave out the hot sandwiches! Look for a grilled Chicken Marinara Sand and an ODB Philly to replace the Prime Dip on the lunch menu. Last but not least, we restructured our rather large tortilla wraps to not include a side (since most contain a salad inside anyway), adjusted the prices accordingly and added a tasty vegetarian option with a Black Bean and Rice Wrap.

Who knew so much thought and time went into making a popular and profitable restaurant menu?! You might think all you need is great recipes and competitive prices, but noooo . . . Menus neither start nor stop there. New recipes that sound good aren't necessarily a good addition to a menu if the ingredients are too specialized or production process too cumbersome. No point in adding an entree that can't be made in a timely manner or whose ingredients can't be kept on hand.

And pricing! With food prices constantly in flux we do our best to price an entree fairly according to industry standards. Complex inventory and shopping spreadsheets link to recipe formulas which link to a final pricing sheet which should give us the entree price within the proper food cost margins. Staying on top of food cost is a never ending job. Say the price of Romaine lettuce changes. A simple enough ingredient, but with far flung repercussions. Romaine is a main ingredient in tossed salad. Tossed salad is an ingredient in several other salads and lunch wraps. A price change in even one ingredient can affect many menu items. You can see how staying on top of EVERY ingredient a complex and exhaustive job.

Once you have all of your menu items chosen and priced, it's time to edit the physical menu itself. Every item needs a colorful and enticing description as well as a place on the page. Menu placement is a much studied structure so formulas are pretty standard even down to the order in which entrees should be listed within their categories for maximum affect. Fitting every entree into its place is an exercise in patience - something like a puzzle with just a few too many pieces.

Final results? An attractive menu, easily readable and understood by patrons with enticing menu items and descriptions subtly designed for maximum profitability.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

West Lane News Ed Op

This is an Editorial I was asked to write for the West Lane News shortly before they went out of business this winter.

Oh, the joys of running a small business! Working harder for yourself than you ever did for anyone else, you find your satisfaction in even the smallest things. Surviving the economic slow down of last winter . . . priceless! In business just as in life, we learned to trim out the fat in our diets and run lean in order to keep our doors open. We cut expenses right and left, scrutinizing every aspect of our operations but especially our labor budget. Trimming the labor budget often meant taking more of the work load on yourself. There is no handyman. There’s you staying late to fix the gate or step or one of the many other things that breakdown in a business. We were also forced to take a hard look at our customers and who we were serving to better focus our limited marketing dollars.

In a former bedroom community like ours so close to a large city like Eugene, most small businesses will have two customer bases they need to reach in order to succeed – the locals and the visitors. We all love the convenience of shopping and dining locally, but what if the local traffic isn’t enough to keep a business’s doors open?

Locals are our bread and butter, the customers we rely on for day to day business. Visitors are the gravy, the little extra that tips the scales to carry us over until next month. We rely on our bread and butter both to frequent our business and to support our everyday needs. As part of a small community, businesses need to support other businesses. We need the mechanic down the road to keep our vehicles running, the local bookkeeper when we have questions beyond the day to day, and a friendly insurance provider down the road to protect our business investment. No one lives in a vacuum here. Still, small businesses struggle to survive on local customers alone. We need the visitors too. This is where tourism comes in and gives the local economy a boost.

The word ‘tourism’ is bandied about in political circles at the county and state level as the new industry for former logging communities. But what does it mean to you and I?

I have found it beneficial to visualize tourism as a rain (very Oregonian, I know). As the rain of tourism begins to fall near one business first, the affect is felt elsewhere as the rain gathers and accumulates on the ground. First we see puddles and then streams of runoff along the side of the road. Rivers rise. Lakes rise. Until we can all see the results of the rain and the higher water levels everywhere around town. As the Fern Ridge Chamber of Commerce motto says, “a rising tide floats all boats.” What this rather poetic example is trying to say is that when even one business is growing and doing well, it benefits us all. Whether the traffic coming through town is because Our Daily Bread is serving a tour group from McMinnville or Stillpoint Farms is hosting a summer concert, we all benefit to some degree. Visitors need gas, a meal, somewhere to shop, somewhere to play and any number of other necessities along the way. Visitors who stay and play in our community are more likely to come again and may even consider staying for good. When the business community is doing well, it’s good for everyone.

Like all growing things, businesses need to be watered and nourished. Do your part and support your local small business by frequenting it. As far as the rest . . . bring on the rain!

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Sunday, November 15, 2009

Register Guard Feature Article

Here's the article in Eugene's Register Guard which featured our restaurant. There was an IMMEDIATE increase in business!


Heavenly haven of Oregon cuisine | Our Daily Bread Restaurant in Veneta serves up original and eclectic recipes in an old, little white church with rustic charm.

Appeared in print: Wednesday, Nov 11, 2009

News: Last Seven Days: Story

Out in Veneta — yes, that on-your-way-to-the-coast little town in the fertile fold of wine and farm country — lies a blissful sanctuary for artisan dining.

Our Daily Bread Restaurant in the old Pentecostal church serves its flock with homebaked breads and desserts, original house specialties like sugar-cured prime rib and marinated salmon seasoned in white wine cream sauce, and dozens of wines from vineyards just a rain cloud or bend away in the country road.

No need for your Sunday-go-to-meetin’ clothes here, where the dining is at once casual and elegant. There’s an old pew or two at the assorted wood tables, but most folks sit on old-style wood chairs, warmed by a pellet stove and/or little electric space heaters placed along the well-worn wood floors.

By day, stained-glass windows, all in the same chapel pattern of blue, orange/red and clear panes, brighten the mood for breakfast and lunch. By night, antique-style pendant lights hanging from the restaurant’s exposed rafters are dimmed, setting the stage for candlelit dinners with linen napkins.

Either that or celebrating a Friday night football game over original-recipe onion rings and homespun hamburgers, as in hand-squeezed patties between fresh-baked buns. “We don’t often describe ourselves as fine dining,” enlightens Tabitha Eck, who, along with her parents, Timothy and Catharine Perkins, owns and operates the 70-seat restaurant with adjoining country store/wine shop and even a banquet room in the old parsonage. “We reach a fairly broad cut of the population, so we call it ‘family fine dining.’”

But it’s certainly more cafe by day than at night, when the Northwest fare gets pretty eclectic — “even for a dinner menu,” Eck says. Almost all the original recipes are steeped in southern Willamette Valley agriculture and slaughter.

“We try to stay fresh and natural,” sums up dad and head chef Tim. “We make our own bread … and none of it has preservatives. We keep MSG out of the house; nothing is artificial. We try to be authentic, close to the ground — fresh, real good. Nothing that’s going to foul somebody’s system.”

Family hearty

A family mission down to the Perkins’ youngest of five children, Our Daily Bread Restaurant fits heart and soul with a down-home, handcrafted, “wholesome country experience” promotion in west Lane, Linn and Benton counties.

“Oregon Country Trails” entices city folk with self-guided tours of wineries, farms, galleries, restaurants, fiber shops, meat markets, produce fields and other artisan enterprises in the Fern Ridge, Long Tom River and Alsea Valley areas (www.oregoncountry

At Our Daily Bread, the handcrafting includes chef Tim’s Northwest menu specialties and head-baker Catharine’s artisan breads and desserts.

Tim credits his “greatest strengths” to mentoring from 10 or so certified chefs during his culinary career. “It sounds cliché, but I do have really high standards,” he says. “I don’t serve stuff that isn’t right.”

Consider his prime rib from the Childers Meat Co. in Eugene. “The way we do it isn’t the common way,” Tim reveals. “I take a knife and poke holes across the top to puncture the sinews and let the flavors seep in.” Lathered in Worcestershire sauce, a secret blend of seasonings and smoke-flavored sugar cure, the prime rib is slow cooked for what Tim calls “a country outdoor barbecue flavor.”

His other claims to fame include tenderized, roasted chicken breast stuffed with dried cranberries, hazelnuts, spinach and feta cheese, and one of his personal favorites, the house chicken borscht.

Other dinner specialties range from fish, oysters and crab cakes to pepper steaks, burgers, pastas and — the restaurant’s latest — foccacias topped with signature sauces and Mozzarella cheese.

Menu prices run from less than $10 to more than $20, and every dinner meal comes with Catharine and crew’s homebaked breads.

Bakery boom

Rising customer demand has Catharine’s convection oven at full tilt these days.

“We don’t make our own bagels or English muffins, but everything else that can be possibly baked and that we serve, we do ourselves,” she says.

Three mainstay breads — whole wheat, French and cinnamon swirl — cover most orders for sandwiches and French toast as well as supplying the dinner menu and take-out counter. Specialty breads from the in-house bakery may include walnut, Parmesan herb, cinnamon raisin and an occasional multi-grain.

Save room for dessert: carrot cake, cheese cakes, bread pudding and pies like lemon cloud, chocolate cream and marionberry.

“I think the majority of our recipes — probably 90 percent — are developed just for the restaurant,” Catharine says.

Culinary calling

Since washing dishes at his dad’s restaurant as a kid, Tim had wanted a place of his own. He found a culinary soulmate in Catharine — in fact the pair met and fell in love while working at the Twin Inns restaurant in Carlsbad, Calif.

College degrees aside, Tim became a career chef while Catharine remained a baker at heart even during her career as a social worker.

Yet the couple still had to whip up enough nerve to buy Our Daily Bread, which already had been renovated into a bakery and smaller scale restaurant over the previous decade by former owner Rick DeAngelo.

“As Tim and I talked, we felt like what we were led to do is own a business — particularly a restaurant,” says Catharine. “That’s my story, so here we are.”

As are the kids.

Eldest daughter Tabitha, 26, bowed out of her University of Oregon studies in pre-med and dance to join the fold as catering and special events manager. Like Mom and Dad before her, she found romance at work, marrying affable waiter Marshall Eck about two years ago. “He married the boss,” she muses.

All the other Perkins siblings — Alexandra Wood, 24, Kasia Wood, 20 (they married brothers), Jesselyn, 19, and Joseph, 17 — also work at the restaurant to some degree. A family that works together stresses out together, but mom Catharine loves the “absolute blessing” of seeing her grown children nearly every day.

In a cozy little old church, nonetheless.

“It’s a wonderful building,” Catharine says. “I don’t know how to explain it, but I always have a good feeling being here.”

Good and wholesome, in fact.

Staff writer Kelly Fenley may be contacted at

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Wedding at the Blue Rooster B and B

This summer we had the opportunity to cater a wedding at a new venue site for us - The Blue Rooster B and B in Lorane. The B and B is maintained and run by Nancy and sees quite a bit of traffic from King Estate which is just down the road. As one of the few B and Bs in the area, Nancy has quite the monopoly on wine tourists along Territorial HWY.

The grounds were gorgeous! Manicured lawns and flower beds. A large pond and backed by acres of trees with a view down the valley. A huge old barn with re-finish floors for events and several live birds nesting in the rafter. With her unique setting and low prices, Nancy always books out with weddings between Labor Day and Memorial Day and is, in fact, already booking into next year. With this venue site, the bride and groom are responsible for renting and bringing in EVERYTHING needed for their event. A nice thing Nancy does for the wedding party is rent the facility by the weekend not by the day. This cuts out the need for the wedding party to break everything down the night of the wedding or to be rushing around like crazy the day of setting up. Much less stressful.

Like all couples, this bride and groom were working within a very specific budget. Our initial consultation revolved around the different pieces of the reception and what I should / could do as the caterer and what they might look into doing themselves to save money. First up was the bar.

Alcohol is a huge expense for any event. This bride and groom decided they would be better served to hire an individual with an alcohol permit (as the site requires) and purchase the kinds and amounts of beverages they wanted themselves rather than doing it through the caterer (me!). There are pros and cons to doing this. The biggest plus is the potential money they saved by buying the alcohol themselves as they may know someone and get a good deal. With open bars, caterers charge by consumption and this charge is added to the final total on top of which gratuity is figured so they also saved a little there as well. In the end, I don't know how much money they actually saved paying a bartender separately and buying the alcohol themselves.

They chose to handle the rentals of china, tables, chairs, and linen themselves as well rather than go through me. Again, the only cost they saved here was the additional gratuity that would have been generated from a higher final total due to rental fees. If they picked up and returned all of the rental equipment themselves, they could have saved quite a bit of money as rental companies charge an arm and a leg for deliveries. It was a lot of work for members of the family and the wedding party to do on the wedding weekend though. By taking care of the rentals themselves, they also took responsibility of clean up and set up of all rental equipment. Not so, if the caterer handles the rentals.

We were able to put together a very attractive menu that stayed away from BBQ at the bride's request. To save money, we split the entree down the middle doing Smoked Tri Tip for 100 and Roasted Garlic Chicken for 100 rather than enough of each for all 200. In this case, it worked
quite well, but then again, we always bring extra! We also prepared several appetizer trays at the Mother of Bride's request which were served just after the ceremony while pictures were being taken. It was a beautiful display, but not quite enough for everyone. The bride and groom took care of the non alcoholic beverages themselves as well, so the meal was quite literally all we handled for this event.


We did our best to clear tables and pick up glasses before we left but, with the family handling the rentals, we didn't stay long after dinner. This was the first wedding I had done where the bride, groom, and assorted family took so much of the work onto themselves. I am a money saver too, so initially, this made sense to me. Now, I am not so sure. Here's a few things to consider when you or someone you love is thinking to save money by 'doing it themselves.'

This is the big one and the one couples and families often deem an acceptable sacrifice in order to save money. Weigh it carefully! Should the Mother and Father of the Bride be shopping for foods, beverages, utensils as well as decorations right up until the day of the wedding or even cooking for the event in their own kitchens. And what about set up and clean up? The wedding party and family should be able enjoy their time at the reception, not jump right into tearing everything down and hauling everything away once the final guest takes off.

I think buying food / alcohol yourself gives the impression you're saving money when really not. The costs are just not going to show up all nice and neat on a catering estimate. Same goes for rentals. All couples save themselves is a little bit of extra gratuity from the rental fees by not going through a caterer for rentals. But they are costing themselves a lot of time and effort in set up, clean up and tear down of said rentals. All I do as the event planner when handling rentals is pass on the exact fees the rental company will charge me.

This isn't one most people think of. Quality is in the details. In general, professionals do a better job than amateurs. Having a professional catering company in charge of the reception from set up and food and beverage service to clean up and tear down will ensure a top notch experience for all of your guests. Thing also won't fall through the cracks like they do when volunteer friends of the family are in charge. For instance, the coffee will get made, the punch bowl refilled, the bar glasses collected in glass racks, trashes emptied, cake passed, and the cake plates and forks in place for the cake cutting. Details really, but these are all details the Mother of the Bride or event the BRIDE doesn't / shouldn't have to be thinking about on the day of the wedding. If you can't delegate a non family member to do these, I think you need to hire someone (like your caterer) to do it for you. Just a few thoughts!

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Wine Tasting in Southern Oregon

Monday, the hubby and I headed down to Southern Oregon for some wine tasting at my parent's recommendation. Unfortunately the one vineyard we were heading down to visit (un-named intentionally) was closed Monday. Instead we visited three other vineyards in the area: Henry's, Melrose Vineyards, and Hillcrest. The local area was home to 18 different wineries all of which shared a multitude marketing endeavors including "Wine Tour" signage, billboards, maps, and matching wine bags for all wine purchases at the various vineyards. The cooperation between these intensely competitive businesses was extraordinary! The vineyards went so far as to call each other when their hours changed as was the case the vineyard we originally sought to visit. They had called around after unexpectedly changing their hours about a week earlier and Henry's tasting room had the info. Anyway . . . on to the wine!

I don't have the luxury of tasting wine for only myself. Every time I taste a new Oregon wine, I am tasting it as a bar manager. On one had I evaluating it by itself: for its own unique qualities and my personal likes and dislikes like every other wine taster. On the other hand, I also have to evaluate it by comparing it to wines already on my list for similarities and price point. If there is nothing outstanding about a wine and its the same price (or more) than a wine already on my wine list, what's the point of adding it unless I have a personal relationship with the vineyard?

Expect to see several bottles from Henry's our wine list within the next few weeks. We tried all three Pinot Noirs each with different qualities and tastes and found their lower end Pinot more than comparable to Hinman's Pinot with a similar price point. They also served their own rose blend that - in Marshall's words - we could serve all day. The semi-sweet rose had a bit of a sparkle to it similar to Silvan Ridge's famous Sparkling Muscat. Very easy drinking. Perfect for the summer months.

This small vineyard is Oregon's oldest estate winery and home to many of the states first, including it's first Pinot Noir. It is also the founding member of "Oregon Artisan Family Wineries." These wineries take the boutique winery experience a step further with almost total owner/ family control including the making and harvesting of wine by the family as well as living on site. In this case, it was a husband and wife team. A very small vineyard, they only sell wine out of their tasting room, so we brought back a Pinot Noir and Zinfandel that interested us both. Its quite a boast to say you're drinking a wine from the oldest vines in the state. Loook for these two wines on our wine list with in the next few weeks as well.


This vineyard was the most picturesque of the three vineyards we visited this day. Behind the renovated barn - now tasting room - you can see fields of vines totaling over 100 acres. They are in the process of planting another 100 acres which will make this one of the largest I have see in Oregon. This vineyard is investing much of its efforts in its wedding facilities including a huge banquet hall, full kitchens, landscaping and arbors. A delightful destination spot. This winery is one of only five vineyards who produce a Baco Noir - a lovely, heavy red wine.

All in all, a wonderful trip despite our initial disappointment. By the third vineyard, we were wined out. How a person could do five, I will never know! All the wines start blending together after three. Done wine tasting, we headed back to Eugene for dinner.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

All in the Family

I thought this an opportune moment to write a bit about the family relationships for all of you ODB fans out there. Some of us operate behind the scences, so you may not know all of the players that work so hard to make your experiences are the ODB so complete.

Many of you know that our restaurant is family owned, but we give new meaning the to term 'family run.' Our Patriarch and Matriarch, Tim and Catharine Perkins, have five children all of whom have or do work in the restaurant. At present, all seven of us work in the restaurant save the one sister who is volunteering in South America. (Check out her story at The oldest three siblings are married and our spouses have also worked in the restaurant for special events or do presently hold positions there. Here's the run down of who's who and who does what at the ODB.

Timothy (Dad) is our Chef as well as our go-to for any kind of repair or maintenace.
Catharine (Mom) is our baker, bookkeeper, general manager, and also waits tables in the evening
Tabitha (me - oldest daughter) am our events manager, bar manager, marketing person, and wait tables during the day with my husband Marshall
Marshall is married to Tabitha and is our full time day server
Alex (second oldest) waits tables a few days a week when not busy with her full time job in the city. She is married to Robbie who helps us out on special events.
Kasia (middle child) is our full time day cook and is married to David, brother of Robbie, and also helps out on special events.
Jessie (second youngest) helps out in the dining room and bakery when not in another country.
Joesph (youngest) does dishes on the weekends and generally does the heavy lifting these days.

In addition to the family we have three other staff persons who all hold vital positions within our establishment:

Carolyn - our full time evening server
Jade - our full time dinner and brunch cook
Andrea - our part time baker, part time server as well as cooking on occasion

As you can see, we have a small staff and are a rather close-knit bunch because of it. We pull in outside labor for large events (usually people related in some way to our staff or selves), but we truly are the epitome of a small, family owned and run operation. So now you know!

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Holiday Brunches Set New Records!

From year one, Our Daily Bread has tried to make the most of holiday celebrations. The first year we tried to do something for EVERY holiday on the calender. After three years, we are finally to the point that our more popular holiday celebrations have a consistent followings and we've been able to eliminated the less popular ones.

Holidays that we have an exceptionally good turnout for include . . .
*Mother's Day Brunch
*Easter Brunch
*Our Annual Anniversary Events
*Valentine's Day Dinner
*Christmas Teas
*Holiday Takeout Meals

Holidays on which we have eliminated special menus/hours include . . .
*New Year's Eve Dinner
*Cinco de Mayo
*Memorial Day
*Labor Day
*4th of July

Holiday's that get one more year to make the team and avoid being cut . . .
*Father's Day
*Easter Dinner
*Mother's Day Dinner

This year's holiday day celebrations of note are our Easter and Mother's Day Brunch Buffets! Easter surpassed all exceptions when we pasted 250 and did 274 for the first time. Mother's Day is the biggest grossing holiday of the year for most restaurants. Ours is no exception. While we know Mother's Day we be just a bit more, we were not prepared for the actuality of doing 350 for Mother's Day Brunch! It was a beautiful day, so outside seating was available. While the dining room may have had empty tables at times, if the weather had not been quite so nice, we would have not had an empty table in the house for five hours! I believe the only way to increase numbers from this point on is to expand our hours yet again. This year we opened an hour earlier at 9am. Next year's brunch may run until 3pm.

I will post a few pictures in the next few days, but just know that the buffets were beautiful. Our regular Sunday Brunch buffets are a delightful treat, but we truly pull out all the stops for these larger Holiday Brunch Buffets. Displays include three-tiered ice bowls, cascading fruit displays and chocolate fondue, an omelet station, a staffed carving station, and more.

Inside the life of a small business owner!

Food,wine, parents, brides, kids, and the daily grind!