By Pat Caldwell
VALE – It was the traffic that did it.
As 2005 drew to a close, Tracy Landreth realized she was spending a quarter of her day on Seattle’s clogged highways.
After reaching a tipping point, she packed up and moved to Malheur County. Her father, Vuryl, had moved to Harper several years earlier.
Fast-forward nearly 11 years and Landreth stands before another one of life’s crossroads as she prepares to put her business – the Miracle Eatery - on the auction block April 12.
She thinks the downtown Vale eatery is popular and could make her more money.
But her heart isn’t in it anymore. Instead, her heart is with her daughter and granddaughter in Portland.
“I want to be a grandma. And I want a balance between work and family. When your family is so far away it is hard to do,” Landreth said.
Landreth bought what was then the Dairy Queen from Dale Rossi in 2006.
“I was looking for a job and I bought one,” she said. “I enjoyed customer service and enjoyed working with the public.”
Landreth said she was eager to step behind the counter at of the Dairy Queen but she soon realized the business consumed her.
“I didn’t know it was going to be nearly as hard as it was,” she said.
And dealing with Dairy Queen was costly.
She wanted to hire a manager but the expense to train such a person under Dairy Queen standards was $15,000, she said.
So Landreth did it all.
She did the books and managed the store and ordered supplies and cooked and served people who dropped in for a bite. While she did hire some employees over the years, the restaurant was her show.
“I’ve had some awesome help over the years,” she said.
Two years ago, she decided to drop out of the Dairy Queen franchise, changed the name and become an independent. Landreth said she picked the new name to honor her granddaughter, Mira.
Her plan was to operate the restaurant for five years and develop the business.
“But I lost my heart (for the business) and decided to sell it,” she said. “It is not what I want to be doing.”
Landreth said the opening bid for her restaurant is $100,000, a price she believes is a good one.
“The building and the property is worth $175,000 and they will get all of the equipment,” she said.
Landreth said a prospective buyer will be successful.
“I didn’t get rich but I make a living at it. It is not as busy as it could be or should be. But I haven’t promoted it as a true entrepreneur should,” she said.
The Miracle Eatery’s location is an asset, she said.
“You have a great customer base and Vale people are awesome,” she said.
Landreth said she is confident her business will sell.
“Even now this is a good business,” she said.
What is next – after her business sells – is still a question mark Landreth said. She will spend more time with her daughter and granddaughter – that is a clear goal – but beyond that she said she isn’t sure what the future will hold.
“I do like this area. I may just work it where I come up with a job and live here,” she said.
She isn’t sure about her plans once the sale occurs, but she’s content with the decision.
“When you reach that point where it is taking everything you have, that is the time to let go,” Landreth said.