Family Memories of the Campbell Hotel

As we’ve mentioned a few times here before, we love it when our guests have stuff to contribute to our history archives. Here’s the latest, compiled by Rams Head guest Connie Andrews, about the beautiful NW Portland building that currently houses our pub.

Thanks for sharing your family memories, Connie!

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“My parents leased and operated the Campbell Hotel Restaurant during the 1950s and early 1960s. Our home was just down the street on 21st and Hoyt and my siblings and I considered the restaurant our home, too. It truly was an integral part of my childhood as well as my sisters’ and brother’s. We were very pleased when we visited a few years ago and found the Campbell Hotel restaurant had taken on a new life as the McMenamins Rams Head.”

Shown here, Orville Andrews (a.k.a. “Red”) and his wife Edna, who Red called “Lucky” (she could beat him and his friends at poker!), leased and operated the Campbell Hotel restaurant for several years in the 1950s and early 1960s.

During the 1930’s Great Depression, Red’s father, James, was unable to find work as a furniture maker and upholsterer. To help the family, Red’s mother Fredericka taught her son to cook so he could help her prepare meals for wheat threshing crews on the North Dakota plains. Red had a knack for it. He also earned money as an exhibition boxer and then later left North Dakota with a crew buying “old gold.” He “road the rails” (train boxcars) throughout the United States and eventually came out west to Oregon during WWII.

Red was unable to serve in the military due to an eye injury so he stayed in Oregon and perfected his culinary craft. Within a few years he became a chef and worked for several well-known Portland restaurants including the Aloha Room in the Heathman Hotel, Trader Vic’s and the Benson Hotel’s London Grill. He was head chef at the downtown businessman’s restaurant, Shelley’s, located in the U.S. National Bank Building. During this time, he and Edna started their restaurant business at the Campbell Hotel.

Edna was the bookkeeper for the restaurant and ran the front of house. She typed the menus every week, featuring locally sourced fare. She was a tall, slim woman who could balance three large dinner plates of food on each arm without mishap. Edna was originally from Iowa and traveled to Oregon in the late 1940s with her sister’s family who had bought a farm on Parrett Mountain. Edna worked as a “Rosie the Riveter” at the Kaiser Shipyards during WWII. She met Red while they were both working at the Valhalla Restaurant located near NW 3rd and W. Burnside. They married in 1946. She did a stint as a waitress at the infamous Quality Pie Shop on 23rd Avenue, and she also was a bookkeeper/cashier at the Montgomery Ward Store on NW 27th and Vaughn.

The Campbell Hotel restaurant not only served the residents and visitors, but it was also popular with the entire neighborhood. The dining room consisted of a large open space with tables covered with white tablecloths, and the menu was classic American cuisine. The Andrews family lived two blocks away on NW Hoyt Street. Their usual table was in a small back room off the kitchen. The restaurant was always open holidays. On these occasions, Red and Lucky’s six children ate at a special table in the restaurant with the other patrons. Toward the end of holiday dinners, Red would walk into the main dining room still in his chef’s whites to a round of applause.

In 1958 a fire broke out in a room on an upper floor of the Campbell Hotel. Red dashed up to the burning room with a hose to try to put out the fire. When the fire department crew arrived on the scene, Red emerged out of the smoke-filled hotel room smoking a Camel cigarette. The fire chief on the scene asked Red if it was “hot enough in there” for him. The fire was limited to one hotel room.

4 Comments

  1. Sharon Komforty on December 14, 2017 at 2:52 pm

    Thank you for posting your memories. It was nice to read about the history from yesterday. I really enjoyed reading about the history back then.

  2. Kim Coe on January 10, 2023 at 8:36 pm

    The Cushman’s ran the restaurant in the mid 1930’s. They were good friends of my grandfather’s. My dad now 93, told me earlier that he remembers going there and all the talk was about the new Henry Thiele’s- they talked so much about he begged to know what it was. Mr. Cushman took him out on the sidewalk and show him Thiele’s. he was about 4. Little did he know he would work there as a bartender 30 years later!

    • Bonnie Andrews on July 3, 2023 at 9:55 am

      It’s great to hear about your family’s history with the restaurant Kim! Thanks for adding some more history of this special place!

  3. Bonnie Andrews on March 10, 2023 at 10:15 am

    I didn’t realize you posted my twin, Connie’s submission and without editing. Thanks so much. We are grateful McMenamins revived the restaurant and visiting it brings back good memories!

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