One thing that I love about the Portland area is the variety of people who are committed to a more sustainable future. We have a growing number of customers who come to us wanting to build or design while leaving as small a footprint on Mother Earth as possible. What is so great is that their passion is infectious.
Emily Howard and Eric Bechard are owners of Thistle, a restaurant that opened in June 2009 in McMinnville, Oregon. I met Emily and Eric when they came to Aurora Mills Architectural Salvage looking for items to incorporate into the design of their new restaurant and bar. They both have such a positive and energetic nature and for them sustainability isn’t the new fad to try; it is a philosophy and lifestyle.
A little over a week ago Emily and Eric invited us to the soft opening of their new bar and to show us the final product of how they used Aurora Mills’ materials. In February Eric ordered over 300 board feet of salvaged 1” x 12” barn wood which we had salvaged from a local barn. He used it to create the shelving behind the bar, the bar counter itself and the framework for a classic looking, multi-tufted corner seating area that brings back feelings of old Hollywood. Eric and Emily also bought a large old foundry mold that was used to create the frame for a large convex mirror. What has to be one of my favorite uses of salvaged materials is their twist on goose-neck table lamps. They put theirs on the walls to use as sconces – so seemingly simple yet with such great effect. Another brilliant example of using reclaimed materials is the bowling alley flooring (not from us but we do carry it) used to make their large communal table (for family style dinners) and smaller, more intimate tables. These tables are thick and heavy yet the arrows create a sense of whimsy.
True to his philosophy of waste not, want not; Eric recounted a story to me about the materials used for the base of the counter around the kitchen. A friend of his was getting ready to remove a non-structural wall and in a moment of epiphany, just as the hammer began to swing, Eric yelled for him to stop. At that second he decided he wanted to somehow reuse the lath. His hammer wielding friend used his creative skills to create the base for their counter. The salvaged lath was stained different shades and set horizontally.
Eric and Emily chose to use salvaged materials and local crafts people to create a paired down yet striking look for Thistle. On the wall in the corner of the restaurant there is a simple chalkboard that exemplifies what I’ve come o see in Emily and Eric. The chalkboard lists out the menu of the day and then a big “thank you” to all of their suppliers. When I commented on the thank you, Emily shared with me her heart-felt reasons why: she grew up in McMinnville and they buy all their food for the restaurant within a 40-mile radius. She said they wouldn’t be who they are without their suppliers and community. Now you can’t go wrong with a place like that.
Thistle is located in the heart of Oregon’s wine country at 228 NE Evans Street, McMinnville, Oregon 97128. Their phone number is
503-472-9623 and website is thistlerestaurant.com.