CCET: Hump's Restaurant reopening suggests 'economy is on the rise'

by: PHOTO COURTESY OF ROB CAMERON - Hump's Restaurant, a Clatskanie landmark until its closure in February 2012, is reopening May 3 under the ownership of Brenda and Rob Cameron. On May 6, it will host an informational luncheon with the Columbia County Economic Team and NW Innovation Works LLC, which plans to invest $1 billion in a methanol plant near Clatskanie.The executive director of the Columbia County Economic Team heralds it as symbolic: Hump’s Restaurant, a Clatskanie institution that is reopening under new ownership after closing its doors more than two years ago, will host a luncheon where people can learn more about a major project planned at the Port Westward industrial park just 7 miles north of town.

To Chuck Daughtry, the resurrection of Hump’s and NW Innovation Works LLC’s plans to build a methanol production and export facility worth $1 billion in north Columbia County are not isolated occurrences; they are both symbols of a reversal of fortune for Clatskanie and the region.

“The reappearance of Hump’s in Clatskanie is huge,” Daughtry said Thursday, April 10. “To lose an iconic restaurant like that is devastating, and so I think this really sends a strong signal that in Clatskanie and Columbia County, the economy is on the rise.”

The luncheon is scheduled for May 6 at 12 p.m. Hump’s will host the CCET-sponsored event, where NW Innovation officials will speak about the Vancouver, Wash.-based development company’s plans for a Port Westward plant, and provide food.

“We’re real excited about it,” said Daughtry. “We’re going to invite about 100, maybe to 120, people — probably have about 80 show up.”

CCET is a public-private economic development agency that encourages business growth and retention in Columbia County. Daughtry describes its role as “kind of a go-between” to “facilitate” communication between companies and governments, ranging from cities to the port to the state of Oregon.

“We’re just supportive of jobs and supportive of economic development,” Daughtry said, adding of the NW Innovation plans, “It’s such a big project. It comes with the investment dollars; there’s lots of jobs being created.”

Company officials have projected the methanol plant at Port Westward will employ about 120 full-time workers once it is completed, while generating hundreds of construction jobs while it is being built. It is unlikely to open any sooner than late 2017 or early 2018, due to Oregon’s permitting process.

The plant will convert natural gas, which runs to Port Westward in a pipeline from Mist, into methanol for export to China. NW Innovation is backed by several Chinese entities, including the industrial port city of Dalian, which would be the primary recipient of the American-produced methanol.

A similar plant is planned in Kalama, Wash. Both the Kalama and Port Westward plants will likely be upgraded — an $800 million endeavor for each — shortly after beginning production, according to NW Innovation President Murray V. Godley III in a January interview with the Spotlight.

As for Hump’s, the beloved restaurant is planned to reopen May 3 under the ownership of Clatskanie residents Rob and Brenda Cameron. The Camerons purchased the restaurant from Pam and Eric Sellix, its former owners.

When reached for comment Thursday, Rob Cameron referred the Spotlight to a written statement, in which he is quoted as saying, “So many of those we have talked to regarding the reopening of Hump’s have been truly excited and very supportive of our efforts! They want to see it return as a centerpiece of the community.”

Interested individuals who did not receive an invitation to the luncheon but wish to attend can contact Daughtry by email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or call 503-410-1061. Daughtry said he plans to build a “wait list” for the luncheon, acknowledging both public interest in the methanol development and limited space at Hump’s.

Hump’s Restaurant is located at 50 West Highway 30 in Clatskanie. It evolved out of a soda fountain in the middle of the 20th century after being purchased by Forris Humphrey, Pam Sellix’s father and the restaurant’s namesake. Despite its local renown and popular comfort food, the restaurant went out of business amid the Great Recession.

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