Mike Kehoe hasn't just opened up a new sausage restaurant in downtown Oregon City.
Kehoe & Co. features nine types of craft sausage, including bison, lamb, boar and your traditional pork, chicken or beef varieties. The meat comes from SP Provisions, a Northwest Portland family business founded in 1880 and committed to a "minimally processed approach that supports a regional, renewable resource in a respectful manner." All of the sausage is nitrate free, and Kehoe hopes they soon will all be pasture raised as well.
Yes, you can get your sausage in a bun, but don't expect the experience of ordering a hotdog at a baseball park. Kehoe gets its buns and focaccia from Grano, an Oregon City-based craft bakery.
Inside that craft bun with craft sausage, you can craft your own favorite combination of flavors. For $12, you get to choose three toppings: diced onions, dill relish, avocado, sweet peppers, cheddar cheese, diced tomatoes, marmalade, chili, jalapeños, bacon, sauerkraut, pepperoncini, salsa verde and spicy relish. You also can pick up to two sauces out of 11 options, many of them housemade. The $12 build-your-own price includes a side of your choice: Barb's Baked Beans, potato salad, mac & cheese, a cup of soup, side salad, chili, coleslaw or skinny fries with garlic aioli. The baked beans are the secret recipe of a former teacher at Lakeridge High School.
That's just where it starts at Kehoe & Co., where sausage plates ($13-15) show off how craft sausages have made their way into a variety of cultures worldwide through dishes like spicy Italian sausage with pasta, bangers & mash, pork andouille jambalaya, and Moroccan lamb tajine.
"There are a lot of places that'll sell you a sausage in a bun, but there aren't a lot of places that'll sell you great sausage outside the bun," Kehoe said.
Kehoe said he received invaluable help in achieving the dream of owning a craft-sausage restaurant from a professional restaurant consultant and from Paul Bitter, who serves as Kehoe's executive chef. A resident of Gladstone, Bitter previously served as the head chef at Fernville Seafood & Steakhouse in Lincoln City, Sugarplums Bakery & Cafe in Canby, and at the Good Earth Restaurant and Old Chicago at the Clackamas Town Center.
Bitter's restaurant philosophy is "big on quality control" to offer customers a gourmet touch that they can feel comfortable returning to every day.
For those visiting Kehoe for the first time, the $15 sampler is a good way to try a variety of premium sausages with an assortment of pickled peppers, Kalamata olives, feta, red onion marmalade, stone-ground mustard and fresh pita bread.
All that craft sausage comes with craft beer, naturally. Featuring the "coldest beer on Main Street," Kehoe offers 12 taps of Northwest microbrews.
Kehoe's eatery that opened March 11 in downtown Oregon City is envisioned as the flagship restaurant for a local chain of restaurants throughout the Northwest, mainly in old buildings featuring natural materials such as a copper bar and wooden tables made from reclaimed old-growth beams. Oregon City's Kehoe & Co. is in a 1907 building, located at the heart of the oldest city incorporated this side of the Mississippi River.
"I chose Main Street as my first restaurant because my theme and look is an old-fashioned style," Kehoe said.
The restaurant came out of a conversation Kehoe had with his kids (who were 9 and 11 at the time) a couple of years ago after he said he wanted to spend less time traveling and more time with his family. He had owned a corporate event-services business for 10 years.
"They wanted me to do a hotdog business like Subway does sandwiches right in front of customers, just the way they like it, and that concept survives in our build-your-own sausage ordering method," Kehoe said. "However, it was my friends who suggested I go the route of craft sausage."
Kehoe graduated from Lakeridge High School in 1984 and from Gonzaga University in 1990, and received his master's degree from Portland State University in 1994. He settled in Oregon City soon after his first child was born and lived there from 2005-13, when he and his family moved to West Linn.
Kehoe & Co.
Where: 709 Main St., Oregon City
Hours: 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Tuesdays through Sundays; Saturdays open until midnight with karaoke starting at 8 p.m.; Sunday breakfast specials include a bison-patty eggs Benedict or corned beef hash, served with pan-fried red potatoes, biscuits and gravy.
Features: Craft sausage meals inside and out of the bun; Northwest craft beers on tap at full bar; espresso bar; private party area for 15 people; shuffle board and dart board in back room with additional seating; outdoor seating for 26 people in alley; seven flat-screen TVs; and an indoor dining/bar area seating 70.
Menu and info: kehoeandco.com