Story & photos by Patrick Alexander
Oregon Coast TODAY
As anniversary gifts go, it’s hard to beat the one presented to The Red Roof by the community of Gleneden Beach earlier this month.
Co-owners Sherry Wilmsen and Wilda Larsen celebrated two years in business by basking in the glory of their Business of the Year award — an honor that came complete with a prime position in the Gleneden Beach July 4 Parade.
While Sherry represented the business in the parade, Wilda stayed in the kitchen with the dedicated Red Roof crew, frantically baking to keep up with the Independence Day rush.
Everyone at the Red Roof makes it happen every day. That kind of teamwork is one of the reasons that The Red Roof has thrived in its first two years and grown to become the community’s living room.
“The basic premise was to create a community place,” Sherry said, “and we’ve exceeded beyond our expectations.”
Tucked away on Gleneden Beach Loop, the bakery and wine bar serves as a meeting spot for the area’s many part-time residents.
“We’ve got to know a whole lot of lovely people that also have houses elsewhere in the country and they’re happy when they come back,” Sherry said, adding: “When they leave, we worry about them.”
The converted church exudes a casual atmosphere, with guests ordering at the counter before settling into comfy chairs arranged in the kind of clusters that encourage people to put down their phones and start talking.
“Whenever new people come in, they say ‘I wish there was a place like this where I live,’” Wilda said.
Living several miles up the Siletz River, Sherry and Wilda rely on The Red Roof for their social lives as much as any of their customers, with every day bringing familiar faces through the door.
But the biggest example of the community spirit that has developed around the bakery came last Christmas, when Sherry and Wilda set up a tree in the lobby, inviting customers to donate gifts for kids in the social service system. Wilda said she had to replace the gift tags on the tree three times over to keep up with the flood of donations.
“They took ownership,” she said. “These are their kids and this in their community.”
The couple also try to reflect the community’s environmental values in the way they run the business, carefully choosing suppliers to minimize plastic waste, getting rid of plastic straws in favor of paper, and switching to compostable cups and lids.
The bakery now gets milk in reusable glass bottles from Tillamook-based Bennett Family Farm, reducing waste while also making each latté, mocha and cappuccino even more of a decadent treat.
“It’s super fresh,” Wilda said. “The cows are milked on Thursday and it comes on Friday.”
Those delightful coffee drinks are served up from 8 am to 4 pm, crafted from sustainably farmed coffee beans, roasted and distributed by a Costa Rican family based in Eugene. A wide range of teas is also available.
The couple grow some produce on their Siletz River property, but more often than not spend their days off driving to the Valley to get fresh fruits and vegetables, including strawberries and raspberries for inclusion in Wilda’s range of sweet treats.
The bakery is also steadily developing its line of savory offerings, which include quiche, bagels and English muffins as well as savory scones. One new addition that is proving popular is a breakfast muffin made with spinach, onion and a whole egg in the center.
While Wilda handles the baking, Sherry serves up soups and salads. It used to be that soup was a winter dish at The Red Roof, replaced by salad when the weather started to warm. But fervent lobbying from soup fans has persuaded Sherry to offer both throughout the summer, alternating from one to the other each week.
While Sherry and Wilda are wary of turning The Red Roof into a full-blown restaurant, they make an exception every Saturday for Neapolitan pizza night. From 5 to 7 pm, the crew serve up pizzas made with traditional ingredients such as extra-fine double-zero flour and San Marzano Roma tomatoes.
Served for dine-in guests only, the pizzas come in two varieties, meat or vegetarian — although Sherry admits to sometimes lacing the meat pies with a few veggies from time to time.
“I’m just trying to keep them healthy,” she said. “They need their greens.”
Pizza night at the Red Roof is a time to enjoy a leisurely, slow-paced meal, perhaps accompanied by beer or a glass of wine. Bottle pours from the wine bar’s wide selection of labels begin at 4 pm each day, with house red and white available on draft daily from noon.
In addition to Saturday night pizza, wine bar nibbles include cheese plates, cheese and olive puffs and mini panini.
The Red Roof is located at 7040 Gleneden Beach Loop, Gleneden Beach, and is open from 8 am to 8 pm Wednesday through Sunday. Call them at 541-614-4528.