Our family has been coming to OurBar for years because they make the world’s best huckleberry pancakes. We order at the counter, then choose our coffee mugs from a collection of vintage stoneware. We tear into the pancakes the moment they arrive, savoring every bite and sponging up the last drops of maple syrup and sweet cream butter. Then we linger a while, planning the day’s adventures or just sitting like satisfied cats in the light streaming through the windows.
Every single thing I’ve eaten at OurBar is delicious. Not just okay, but amazing. That’s part of why we keep returning. But it’s also the genuinely friendly way we’re greeted. It’s the happy buzz of conversation, the bustle of the open kitchen, the eclectic art. It’s how OurBar makes us feel – like we’re at home, but with way better food.
OurBar, which has been serving Clark County since April 2013, is at the forefront of a downtown revival in Washougal. From the beginning, co-owners Alex Yost and Kevin Credelle embraced the community’s creative and entrepreneurial spirit. They chose to make Washougal their home as well as their business location, so their customers are their neighbors, too. Credelle notes that they live just a block and half from the restaurant. “We’re full-blooded Washouglians,” says Yost proudly.
Yost and Credelle met, appropriately enough, at a bar in Boulder, Colorado, where they bonded over food. “Because both of us, really, our heart and soul is in the kitchen,” says Yost, who was working as a sous chef at the time. She graduated from the Oregon Culinary Institute and earned her chops at Jake’s Grill in downtown Portland. Credelle, meanwhile, had developed his culinary skills at barbecue restaurants in several states, and was headed to California to help friends open a new barbecue place. Yost followed soon after, and the pair ended up in San Francisco. Credelle worked at a coffee house and Yost honed her craft at Chef Chris Cosentino’s legendary Incanto. Their free time was late at night, when they’d visit bars and brewpubs. That’s where the idea for OurBar started says Credelle. “Any time that we had time together, we were going out to eat, and every meal is like, ‘OK, so I really want this dish,’ or ‘I really like this service aspect,’ or this drink,” he adds. “we’d be like, ‘OK, when we open our bar, we’re gonna do it this way!'”
They moved north in 2011 to join Portland’s burgeoning food scene. Credelle worked at Dick’s Kitchen and Podnah’s, while Yost worked at Victory Bar, Tabla and Oven and Shaker. New restaurants were popping up everywhere. The couple had already begun scoping out locations for their own eatery, searching for a neighborhood that was on the upswing but that didn’t already have one too many spots with reclaimed wood and farm-to-table food, jokes Credelle. They had, at least, a name – OurBar, a nod to their late-night meals and idea-gathering in San Francisco.
They Found “It” in Washougal
Although Yost had relatives in Washougal, they hadn’t considered it as an option until Credelle saw a Craigslist listing and texted Yost with, “What about OurBar Washougal?” They met with the property manager, who was looking for somebody that had energy and an idea, says Credelle, “And a long-term vision for what the community could be,” adds Yost. These two restaurateurs fit the bill. “It was an opportunity for us to really tell our story together, but also to be a part of something,” says Credelle. “It’s like this upswell that we felt was just about to hit, and so we thought it was the perfect time.”
Their vision was straightforward. Serve uncomplicated, exceptionally delicious, locally sourced food in a welcoming atmosphere. “That’s the best way for us to describe it,” says Yost. “Just simple.” Their motto, “Eat Real Food,” is a philosophy that extends to every aspect of the restaurant. About 90 percent of their produce comes from within 50 miles, says Credelle, and 75 percent of their meat comes from within 250 miles. “We make these choices, we purchase this way, we work with the farmers, not because it’s cool and trendy, but because it’s what we truly believe is the right thing to do,” explains Yost. “The expectation should be that if you have something at the restaurant, it’s most likely made in house, most likely sourced locally.” OurBar’s dishes are comfortingly recognizable and relentlessly tasty.
The community has responded by making OurBar a neighborhood hub, with a host of regulars, adventurers grabbing a bite before heading up the Gorge and foodies coming from a distance to sample dishes like sopa de fideo with Reister Farms lamb, the steelhead burger or the sublime bacon cheddar biscuits with wild boar gravy. As for Credelle and Yost, their shared dream has brought them even closer; they got married a little over a year after OurBar opened.
Their future plans are equally simple: stay in Washougal and find ways to maximize their current space. They’re also expanding their hours with a new happy hour from 2:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m., Wednesdays through Fridays, featuring small plates and a selection of craft beers and Columbia Gorge wines. “Our roots are in pretty deep here,” says Yost, “so we definitely don’t want to move.” Happily, demand keeps growing. “They’re still lining up out the door, which is an amazing problem to have.”
1887 Main Street in Washougal