Business & economy, In the community

New owners repairing Adrian’s Mirage Cafe, getting ready to serve community

ADRIAN – For Candice Smith, childhood memories of her grandmother stoked the desire to own a restaurant.

In the mid-1980s, Smith’s “granny Rose” owned Rose’s Ice Cream and Deli in Toledo, on the Oregon coast.

Smith remembers “all of us grandkids running around her restaurant. It was home.”

Now, at 41, Smith and her husband Blake, are the new owners of the Mirage Café & Lounge in Adrian.

She already has big plans for her new place. Her goal, she said, was to ensure the food is “homemade with family-friend recipes.”

“But we have a lot to do,” said Smith.

Smith said she and her husband acquired the restaurant in July. It has been closed since January.

The idea to buy the restaurant and bar, though, emerged in September 2022. In April, said Smith, she and Blake began to talk seriously with owner, Mike Lea.

Blake Smith, who is an apprentice plumber but also trains horses and colts, was working at a farm in Nyssa.

“We went to dinner at the Mirage and we had the prime rib. We went back to the ranch and the next day I cooked dinner for everybody and a bunch of them were telling me, ‘You should get your own restaurant,’” said Smith.

Jumping into the food service business wasn’t a new idea, said Smith. In 2019 she and Blake were close to buying a food truck to operate around their home near Lebanon.

“We were going full steam ahead on that. We had our menus set and I was going to open it with my mother-in-law,” said Smith.

Then the Covid pandemic hit.

“Everything shut down before we made our initial purchase,” said Smith.

At the time, said Smith, she said she told herself she wasn’t going to “make anything happen.”
“I didn’t start looking again for a restaurant because I figured if something came along it would be meant to be. Then this did happen,” said Smith.

Smith said she is a “little nervous because we have a lot of work to do.”

“A lot of remodeling and placing equipment and stuff like that but every day there is a little less anxiety and I get more excited,” said Smith.

Smith said she wants to open in November but said she and Blake are not “100% sure when we will open but it will be before the new year.”

Smith said big ticket items needed include a new roof over the café and the bar and then brick work out front.

“The bar side is what we are going to do first because it is the worst. It has a flat top and it is leaking,” said Smith.

Smith said just to do the two roofs will cost around $55,000.

“We will be almost $100,000 into the exterior by the time it is all done,” said Smith.

The work is challenging, said Smith, especially because for now the couple still lives in the Willamette Valley – a 7½ hour drive to Adrian.

“We only get to come over every other week,” said Smith.

That, though, will change, she said soon. She plans to move to the Adrian area while her husband stays in the valley as their youngest daughter moves through her senior year of high school.

Once she graduates, Blake will move to Adrian, said Smith.

One way Smith is able to continue to keep working going on the restaurant and lounge is help from the community. Smith said the local community has been “awesome.”

“We post on Facebook, on the Adrian 2040 page, to see if anyone could help,” said Smith.

Recently, Smith said she was in town and worked on removing carpet from the restaurant.

“I posted on 2040 and asked if anyone could help out. Five people showed up and we got the carpet out of both sides of the building,” said Smith.

She said she also sponsored a donation sale, where people could purchase knick-knacks or other memorabilia from the restaurant.

“We put everything we were not going to use outside and we had people come from all over,” said Smith.

Many of those who showed up, she said, didn’t buy anything but instead left donations.

“It was really nice,” said Smith.

Smith said the decision to buy the Mirage Café & Lounge worked out for her and Blake.

“I think we found a spot we will enjoy going to,” said Smith.

News tip? Contact reporter Pat Caldwell at [email protected]

HOW TO SUBSCRIBE – The Malheur Enterprise delivers quality local journalism – fair and accurate. You can read it any hour, any day with a digital subscription. Read it on your phone, your Tablet, your home computer. Click subscribe – $7.50 a month.