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Under new ownership: Tina's Restaurant

Longstanding employees take the reins at classic restaurant serving wine country cuisine

Nearly 25 years after it opened its doors, one of Dundee’s first restaurants playing off the wine industry has changed hands from its founders and longtime owner-operators into new ownership by two of the business’s longstanding employees.

David and Tina Bergen handed Tina’s Restaurant over to its new owners in mid-June.

“It came down to them really wanting to be free and retire from the business to pursue their other interests, world travel being one of them,” new co-owner Michael Stiller said. “It worked really well for everybody. For us, we were ready to move onto that next thing.”GARY ALLEN - New ownership - Tina's Restaurant in Dundee has changed ownership from its founders and operators for more than 20 years into the hands of longstanding employees Michael Stiller and Dwight McFaddin.

Stiller first worked at Tina’s in 1997. He had moved up to Oregon from Arizona to start working in the wine industry. While working at Erath Winery he found a part-time job at the restaurant. A few years later Stiller began managing the dining room at the eatery.

In total he worked there 14 years before leaving to take a job managing Nick’s Italian Café in McMinnville, where he stayed until the recent opportunity to come back to Tina’s.

“It’s been a nice homecoming,” Stiller said.

Dwight McFaddin, the other new co-owner of the business, had been working at Tina’s once or twice a week for 22 years, Stiller said.

The timeline of the ownership change began last fall, when the notion was just a subconscious inkling in Stiller’s mind.

“I actually had a dream that David and I had a discussion about it and I mentioned it to a mutual friend and it got back to David,” Stiller said. “That’s kind of what started the whole conversation early on.”

Just six months later, that conversation has turned into a reality.

The restaurant opened in October 1991 and over the years has carved out a niche serving what Stiller describes as Northwest wine country cuisine, alongside other Dundee staples like Red Hills Provincial Dining. Just what’s covered under that style of food is hard to pinpoint exactly. It involves French-influenced cooking techniques, but Stiller does not describe it as a French restaurant.

Perhaps it’s more defined by its practices than the specific flavors.

“Tina’s was always farm-to-fork before it was called that, before it was a thing,” Stiller said. “We always looked for local seasonal ingredients.”

Nothing will change there with the new ownership, although Stiller said one of the goals is to blend some of the newer trends with dishes that were always popular in the old days of the business. That means that while there is always a vegetarian option, vegetarian and vegan dishes are not the primary direction the business is headed.

“We’re definitely protein heavy,” Stiller said, citing the duck breast and lamb rack as some of the classic specialties the restaurant has made a name for and explaining that while they have come and gone from the menu over the years the restaurant is working to solidify those options year-round.

Still, the restaurant features a lot of seasonal meals. The fresh fish always varies, different cuts of beef are featured in the winter than in the summer.

“In the fall and winter there’s such an abundance of amazing produce and ingredients out here,” Stiller said. “Rabbit, quale, different types of fowl. There are a lot of seasonal, different meals.”

As the new owners are still settling into running Tina’s, the restaurant is not yet open for lunch but hopes to be by mid-July to take advantage of the summer and fall big-season months.

“We’re going to offer a white tablecloth lunch, really elegant but still reasonably priced,” Stiller said.

Besides the transition in ownership, the restaurant’s central location in Dundee means it will certainly see some changes as the Newberg-Dundee bypass approaches completion and the city’s notorious traffic begins to decrease.

“Once the traffic slows down a little bit, I’m hoping that there’s plans to put in some shade trees and really make this a nice downtown walking community,” Stiller said.

As it is, he said, many people traveling through town just get on the road and don’t want to get off, as the famed string of cars that crawls through Dundee every day during the afternoon and evening hours makes it less inviting to pull off and lose one’s place in line.

With sparser traffic, that is projected to change.

“I can’t wait,” Stiller said. “We have a great location for that kind of city. We’ll have a lot of exposure.”


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