Dillon's legacy of community service
Jim Roths and his crew at Dillon's Grill are always looking for ways to give back to the Prineville community.
Over the years, the business has supported local kids, dance clubs, sports teams, theater groups, firefighters and the Kiwanis Splash Park.
Soon, they will add military veterans to their list.
They are planning a Flag Expansion Fundraiser on Father's Day weekend.
"We've got a promotion in the works with Band of Brothers to get the flags all the way to Bi-Mart," Roths said of the American flags that decorate Third and Main streets on holidays. "What an impact that makes when you drive into Prineville — and then it stops."
He pointed out that the town is growing, and he'd like to see the flags continue to the east edge of town.
Dillon's Grill General Manager Erin Keaffaber has a heart for this project and is helping plan a Rat Rod Poker Run for Saturday, June 15.
She's teamed up with Prineville rat rod enthusiast Sean Barter, who headed up a similar event last summer.
Anyone with a unique car or motorcycle — not just a rat rod — is welcome to join the Poker Run.
Participants will meet at 7 a.m. at Barney Prine's Steakhouse and Saloon the day before Father's Day. The Poker Run will have stops in Madras, Fossil and Mitchell and will end in Prineville with a car show on the streets near Dillon's Grill and Crooked River Brewing.
That evening, there will be a barbecue, a live auction and an opportunity for folks to purchase an American Flag and dedicate it to a veteran.
The people with Flags of Prineville will send the flags to Washington, D.C., where they will be flown at the capitol and returned to fly on the streets of Prineville.
Expanding the Flags of Prineville is not the only way Roths is honoring veterans.
He has recently started displaying a Missing Man Table at Dillon's Grill on military holidays.
"The Missing Man Table is in remembrance of those that didn't come back, and there's a lot of symbolism on the Missing Man Table," Roths said, noting that military organizations often have one.
The setting typically includes an empty chair and a white tablecloth that symbolizes pure intentions of the service members who responded to the country's call to arms. A single red rose represents the blood they have shed. Salt sprinkled on a plate symbolizes the tears shed by waiting families. An inverted glass represents the fact that the missing and fallen cannot partake. A Bible represents faith, a lemon represents bitterness, and a lit candle symbolizes hope.
Keaffaber says the response they've gotten from guests has been amazing.
"It'd be cool if other businesses in Prineville would start to pick that up," she said. "There's a lot of vets."
Roths is also proud — and humbled — to have received the Prineville-Crook County Chamber of Commerce 2018 Large Business of the Year award at the annual chamber banquet last month.
Roths and his wife, Donna, own Dillon's Grill and Club Pioneer.
In presenting the award at the banquet, Chamber board member Sheena York said the they demonstrate creativity, pride and excellence in their work.
"They continually reinvest in their business and employees. Their dedication to our community is apparent through their continual engagement in events, fundraisers and partnerships," York said. "This business employs over 60 people. Among those, you can find contagious smiles and amazing customer service."
Not only that, but on May 3, Roths and Keaffaber received an award from the Oregon State Rehabilitation Council and Vocational Rehabilitation Council for their commitment to the mission of assisting Oregonians with disabilities to find and maintain employment.
They have partnered with Central Oregon Employment Solutions owner Kari Clark to offer jobs to people with disabilities.
The Dillon's Grill employee greets and seats guests and busses tables.
"They're slowly trying to teach her our computer system with the idea that hopefully one day she'll be a server," Roths said.
His Club Pioneer employee works on the silverware rollups.
"It's not about their disabilities — it's about their abilities," Roths said. "These people all have skills. By bringing that into our business, I believe that really changes the culture of who we are with our other employees."
Roths has also been busy freshening up Dillon's Grill.
Blaine Noland Construction and Painting recently finished painting the exterior of the 13-year-old building and adding some bling to the signage. Third Street Flooring replaced the carpet on New Year's Day with decorative rope and horseshoe carpet.
The patio opened for the season on Mother's Day, featuring a new cabinet, fresh paint, new awnings and even more beer signs.
"Part of doing business is keeping it fresh, maintaining it so our guests that come in have a clean, fun, comfortable place to be. No one wants to sit in a place that's worn out," Roths said.
Dillon's guests love the patio, which celebrates beer and fresh air.
"And the staff loves it," Keaffaber chimed in. "We get to come outside all day long and enjoy the sunshine."
The 13 patio tables can seat as many 36 guests.
"It makes our restaurant about 50 percent larger," Roths pointed out. "We have to beef up our staffing. It takes more people to run a bigger restaurant."
Dillon's continues to serve a variety of salads, sandwiches and burgers for lunch and dinner seven days a week, but they are bringing back their popular Bison Burger in June and July. They get fresh bison from Powell Butte Bison Ranch.
As the busy season begins, Roths says they are always looking for projects that make an impact in the community.
"The responsibility we feel is you receive, but you always give back," Roths said. "We want this business to have a legacy of people being able to say this business is important to Prineville because they give back."
Address: 142 NE Fifth St., Prineville
Hours: 11 a.m.-9 p.m. Sunday-Thursday; 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Friday-Saturday