When Governor Kate Brown ordered dining establishments closed across the state except for to-go and delivery orders, it created unprecedented challenges for local restaurant owners, most of whose business plans didn’t outline contingencies for a global pandemic.
Now, 10 weeks later, the county has entered the governor’s phase 1, allowing restaurants, bars and other establishments to reopen under new safety guidelines, and many of those same owners are expressing thanks to their faithful supporters who helped them stay afloat during the take-out days.
In talking with local eateries, one name that comes up again and again is Wilson Construction Co., a multi-generational, family-owned company that began over 65 years ago in Troutdale but has long been headquartered in Canby.
The company specializes in the design and construction of electrical infrastructure, and is one of the region’s largest privately held utility contractors.
During the Covid-19 shutdown, the company and its longtime president, Don Wilson, made a habit of ordering lunch for their entire staff from a different locally owned restaurant every day of the workweek — and picking up the tab each time.
“Wilson has been great to not only our business but many others, every weekday for the entire Covid shutdown,” said Michael Ebner, of Ebner’s Custom Meats. “Our day was Wednesdays. We’ve sent ribs, brisket, pulled pork and one of my favorites, a good ol’ meatloaf sandwich.”
That the construction firm would have such a taste for Ebner’s is not really a surprise, since some of their sandwiches are piled so high I’m pretty sure you need a forklift and other heavy equipment to handle them.
“What Wilson Construction has done, has gone above and beyond,” said Ebner. “They have not only been supporting us little guys, but have also given their crews some pretty good lunches in the process. All of us at Ebners have appreciated the support tremendously.”
Joan Monen, owner of the Wild Hare Saloon in Canby and Oregon City, has personally delivered lunch to the company’s crews each week throughout the shutdown: Canby on Mondays, Woodburn on Thursdays.
“He and his company, by far, have been my best customers since I opened,” she said. “Everyone that works for him is always so respectful and nice to my staff. It speaks volumes about him and the type of people he hires. They’re all-around great people.”
Ken and Lori Arrigotti, owners of the Backstop Bar & Grill, estimated that they saw more than 50 orders a week coming from Wilson’s two local offices.
“We couldn’t have been more blessed to be a business in the community of Canby,” Ken Arrigotti said on Facebook this week. “The support that we have all felt will never be forgotten. … It is because of all of you and businesses like Wilson Construction that we will get to reopen our doors.”