Blasts from the Past: 14 Beloved Oregon Businesses That Vanished

by | Jun 8, 2024 | History

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The Covid-19 pandemic hit local businesses hard, causing many of them to shutter their doors for good. These closures devastated the communities they serve and it got us thinking about all the other Oregon companies that have come and gone over the years and are missed today. Here’s a rundown of some of Oregon’s most beloved businesses that are no longer with us.

Farrell's Ice Cream Parlour

Farrell's, Farrell's facebook

Farrell's was founded in Portland in 1963 and quickly expanded to 120 locations nationwide. However, Portland always claimed Farrell’s as their own and it was one of the best places in town for birthday parties. The waiters would come out singing in their candy-striped shirts and straw hats, carrying a 30-scoop(!) ice-cream sundae called the “Mt Hood” that fed the whole table. It was simply unreal to be a part of it. In 2001 the original Lloyd Center location was closed followed by the Eugene location in 2006.

The Bomber Restaurant 

Bomber Restaurant
Bomber Restaurant, Kater Miller Google Local

For a long time, it was impossible to drive down McLoughlin Blvd in Milwaukie without passing the B-17 Flying Fortress Bomber, nicknamed the “Lacey Lady,” that was perched atop a gas station and restaurant. Unfortunately, the Lacey Lady had to be moved in 2014 for restoration and the Bomber restaurant that sat beside it closed in 2020. 

Humble Bagel

Humble bagel
Humble bagel, Valerie Taylor Google Local

For 42 years, Humble Bagel on Hilyard Street in Eugene was the place to go for freshly baked bagels and other delicious treats like challah bread and simple breakfast and lunch fare. The shop closed down in 2019 when long-time owner Glen Thomas announced he hadn’t been breaking even for a few years and couldn’t stay open. 

Izzy’s Pizza

Rick Obst / Flickr

Izzy’s Pizza, based in Albany, was a mainstay of Oregon’s family-friendly dining scene since 1979. They were famous for their pizza buffet, cinnamon rolls, and affordability. Sadly, the PNW restaurant chain started losing steam in the 2000s and the Covid-19 pandemic was the nail in the coffin for the final few locations to ultimately shut their doors.

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Meier & Frank

monorail at Santaland
Monorail at Santaland, Oregon Historical Society

Meier & Frank is one of Portland’s oldest companies having been founded in 1857! This family-owned department store also had locations in Salem, Eugene, and Medford, but its most well-known store was in downtown Portland, kitty-corner to Pioneer Courthouse Square. As a kid, Meier & Frank only meant one thing—Santaland. Each holiday season, Santland emerged on the 9th floor of the downtown store and it was the stuff of dreams. There was a kid-size monorail that circled Santaland where you could see animatronic elves and reindeer doing all of Santa’s bidding, and of course you’d get to meet Santa himself. You'd have to wait in line for hours, but it was so worth it.  The company was eventually sold to Macy’s which maintained many of the stores after changing the name. The last operational Meier & Frank closed in 2006.

Organ Grinder

Organ Grinder
Organ Grinder, The Organ Grinder facebook

This well-known pizzeria was open from 1973 to 1996 in East Portland. The Organ Grinder was another must-visit place for kids' birthday parties and featured an enormous organ and an animatronic monkey that would dance around it crashing cymbals together while old silent-movies played in the background. If it sounds like something out of a Terry Gilliam movie, you’re spot on and it couldn’t have been cooler. I count myself lucky to have seen it in person.

Gresham Skateworld

For 44 years, Skateworld was one of the best roller rinks in the Portland metro area. It feels like there aren’t nearly enough family-friendly places like this anymore that provide fun, safe, and affordable entertainment for everyone. The Skateworld building was purchased in 2018 and is now a church.

Tom Peterson’s

Tom Petersons
Tom Petersons, Weird Portland United facebook

When you try to explain Tom Peterson (and Gloria!) to someone who didn’t grow up in the Portland area, they’ll think you’re nuts. Tom Peterson had a chain of electronics stores from the 1970s into the early 2000s with the last store closing in 2009. But what he was really known for was his TV commercials and his undeniable star power. Who could forget his long-time promotion where you could get a free “Tom Peterson” haircut (a buzzed, flat-top) and other giveaways like Tom Peterson alarm clocks that were part of his “Wake Up” ad campaign that had his stores open until 3:00am? The man was a legend.

Pixie Kitchen

Pixieland, Pixie Kitchen website

The Pixie Kitchen was located on the 101 in Lincoln City and was open from 1953 to 1985. It was by far one of the best places to stop with the family when visiting the Oregon coast. When you walked in there were fun-house mirrors and kids got tokens at the end of the meal which they could exchange for salt water taffy. From the dining room you could look out at the courtyard at the Pixie Grotto that was full of mischievous, mechanical pixies. They even opened an amusement park called Pixieland, which was open from 1969 to 1974.

G.I. Joes

G.I. Joes was a sporting goods store based in WIlsonville. At its height it had 31 stores in Oregon, Washington, and Idaho and it was the place to go for all things sports. They also oddly sold tickets for concerts, and I have fond memories of camping out in line as a teenager to score Grateful Dead tickets—kids today will never know what fun this was! Sadly, in 2009 the company filed for bankruptcy and had to liquidate all their stores.

Calamity Janes

Calamity Janes
Calamity Janes, Nick Yamov Google Local

Calamity Janes along Highway 26 in Sandy was the perfect place to stop on your way to and from Mt Hood. The place had an old west saloon vibe and the ceiling of the restaurant was covered in dollar bills. They sold huge burgers, delicious onion rings, and milkshakes. The restaurant was open for 38 years before it closed in 2019.

Tudor Rose Tea House

Tudor Rose
Tudor Rose, You Know You're From Salem, Oregon When… facebook

Opened in 1988 in Salem, the Tudor Rose Tea House would transport customers to jolly old England to enjoy a traditional English tea or lunch. The tea house had old-fashioned wallpaper, lace curtains, and was set back in the trees overlooking a creek—they even sold British newspapers there! They also prohibited cell-phones which added to the relaxing back-in-time atmosphere. The Tudor Rose was a much beloved family business that closed in 2007.

Le Bistro Montage

Montage, Tim Lauer Flickr

Tucked under the Morrison Bridge on the eastside of Portland was the legendary Le Bistro Montage that opened in 1992. I loved this place as a teenager because it was open late and allowed all ages. They were known for their cajun food, mac and cheese, waiters screaming out orders for oyster shooters, and creatively packaging up your leftovers in various tin foil animals. The Montage closed in 2020 due to the pandemic. But not all is lost because they now operate a food carts around town where you can still order their Spicy Mac.

Kim's Chinese 

Kims, Susan Stienstra Google Local

For years, one of the most recognizable restaurants in Medford was Kim’s Chinese that first opened way back in 1950. The restaurant closed in 2005, but the building was left standing for nearly 10 years before it was demolished in 2014. Kim’s was a Medford tradition for many families and was well-known for their Mar Far Chicken and tasty “pink” shrimp sauce.

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Written By Diana Flowers

Diana is a writer living in Portland with her delightful son and crotchety cat. Growing up in the area, family vacations were often to nearby destinations reachable by car. She has since expanded that love of local road trips and has been all over the great state of Oregon and throughout the Pacific Northwest, frequently pairing backpacking trips with exploring new towns and regions.

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