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McGeorge Robinson takes over the restaurant and makes multiple improvements

RAMONA MCCALLISTER - A wide shot of the inside of the Waterhole Tavern. The restaurant and bar have new tabletops and a new bar top, and freshly renovated floors and new furniture. Before McGeorge Robinson bought the building, there were no windows. He added several windows, and new doors throughout the building. Inside and out, the building is trimmed with pine mouldings.

The Waterhole Tavern is under new management and new ownership.

For local customers who have been in the establishment before, they will find some big changes — even before they walk through the doors.

The building now has windows on three sides and new doors surrounded by natural pine inside and out. The parking lot has been repaved, and this summer visitors will have the option to eat outside on a patio on the east side of the building.

McGeorge Robinson, a former Prineville resident and Crook County High School alumnus, took over the business in May.

"I was up here last year, and my buddy who I was visiting, said, 'The waterhole is for sale.' It started from that," said Robinson. "I put a bid on it, and got it — and then, 'I guess I am moving. I guess I own a bar.'"

Robinson recently lived in Los Angeles, California, where he worked for Southern Glazer Wine and Spirits LLC — a wine and liquor distributor. Immediately after graduating from college, he was a landscape contractor in Portland, Oregon, for 10 years.

He said he worked on the building from May until he opened the last weekend of October. Renovations have included the bathrooms, the kitchen, as well as replacing windows, bar tops and doors.

"We just kept doing things — it just kept spiraling," he said.

Robinson said that two local contractors, Jeremy Searcy and Kyle Mecham, did the majority of the work, in addition to Levi's Sawmill Services of LaPine, Oregon, who did the tabletops and wood trim around the windows and throughout the restaurant. There have been many others including Spike Charley, who alerted him that the Waterhole Tavern was for sale--who have contributed to the finished building.

"It was a lot of work," Robinson said.

There are also eight flat screen televisions throughout the building. "We play games or whatever," he said.

They had them on during the Rose Bowl on Jan. 1. They can also be tuned separately.

The menu is still evolving, but includes pizza, hamburgers, homemade soups and Rueben and French dip sandwiches. He will soon add pasta and chicken dishes. The restaurant also offers a full breakfast, including homemade biscuits and sourdough pancakes. The establishment is fully licensed, and families are welcome any time of the day.

At the end of February, Robinson will add lottery in an enclosed area.

"I am sort of baby-stepping," he said.

Robinson is a hands-on owner and spends a lot of time in the kitchen. "I cooked all the way through college," he said, adding that he also enjoys it.

He feels strongly about elevating the food and the atmosphere of his restaurant.

"Consistency is big. We make everything from scratch," Robinson emphasized. "Customer service is big. Food quality is huge."

He strives to make sure his product is of the highest quality possible.

Robinson likes the small-town feel of Prineville. He said that he has had a lot of support as he renovated the building.

"That is one of the great things about here," he said.

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Side bar

Waterhole Tavern

Owner: McGeorge Robinson

1265 N.W. Lamonta Road

Prineville, Oregon 97754

Phone: 541-447-1517

Hours: 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.


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