Although Prineville's only brewery has recently changed its name, the spirit of the eclectic pub and brewery has not transformed how they do business.
Their prior name, Crooked River Brewing, was recently changed to Crooked Roots Brewing. The former name came from a friend of the owner when they were brainstorming what they should name the brewery, which opened its doors Jan. 17, 2017. Knowing that it was a common name, especially in Prineville, the logo was created with "CR Brewing," rather than the full "Crooked River."
"We had to change the name due to legal reasons only, and so the name "Crooked Roots" came to life," explained Manager for Crooked Roots Brewing, Amanda Mitchell. "The owner liked the idea of keeping the name similar, and it's just a fun name in general. This way, we can keep all of the logos that had been created for the brewery."
When the owner, Jesse Toomey, and business partner, Josh Saxbury, opened the brewery, he knew he was using a very common name (Crooked River) and may have to change it later down the road.
"That's why our logo has always shown CR Brewing. The time came, we had to change it legally, and none of our branding changed. Smart man, he is," Mitchell went on to say of the reasons for their former and current name. "We are simply Crooked Roots Brewing to keep with the CR Brewing that we've always been."
Toomey and Saxbury had been tossing around the idea of a pizza and beer place somewhere down in Central or South America for a few years before they ended up opening their brewery in Prineville.
"It was just more logistically feasible since I already lived there. Josh lives in Fort Collins, Colorado, another beer centric location," noted Toomey.
"Aside from all the imposed restrictions, which all businesses, particularly the food and beverage industry, have suffered through, we've also grown a lot over the last five years. We opened with eight employees and have had up to 20. We're short now by several employees but have always been lucky to have a great crew to get us through our busy and slow seasons."
He added that Prineville has been growing since they opened, which has been great for them.
"We have a great city planner and crew over there that's been very supportive of us through the year," Toomey emphasized. "Overall, businesses here have great support from all our local governmental agencies. It's a great place to have a business."
He went on to say, "I went from working every day 16 hours a day for the first 18 months with my wife, Amber, helping on her days off, and after working long shifts at St. Charles to now having a great manager, Amanda, which allowed me days off and vacation time. It's been a fun and interesting ride. A strange time to have a business, but we stayed open and served our public the whole time, which I think gained us some respect in our community. We love it in Prineville and are glad to serve this awesome population!"
Since their beginnings in 2017, the brewery is going stronger than ever. The brewery has drawn in General Manager, Mitchell, since it opened in 2017.
"I, personally, have been the manager for approximately seven months now, but I've been working at the brewery off and on since May of 2017," she noted of her tenure at the brewery. "I keep coming back to the brewery because I honestly love it. It's a fun job with good people, and I just find myself coming back time and time again."
The relaxing of COVID guidelines has been a big boost to the business, as it has for Prineville's restaurant industry in general. The impact of capacity limits has been felt by CR Brewing as well.
"We're ecstatic about the lift of the mask mandate and the social distancing here in Oregon so everyone can fully enjoy, well, everything again! While we did have to scale way back for those couple of months that everything was closed, and then again in December, there wasn't a point that we were super worried about having to close down," Michell explained. "We are super thankful for our customers that supported us and kept us going through it all."
This past year, CR Brewing built a large, covered area with the gas heater because of the strict dining guidelines—especially when restaurants had outside dining only. The addition proved to be a great addition to their eclectic atmosphere at the brewery.
"We do have a small brewing area where we are working on our recipes," added Mitchell of their small brewery. "We currently have one of our beers on tap, a Strong Blonde. We do also brew ciders at the brewery, again in small batches. We try to keep at least one of our ciders on at a time."
CR Brewery has 28 taps between beer, cider, kombucha and wine. Customers can find their live tap list online at http://www.crbrewing.com/beer/. It is instantly updated whenever they change a keg. Of course, they also have a great selection of food, including pizza, salad, nachos, and a handful of appetizers.
"We also do our best to always keep a CBD drink from Ablis on at all times," said Mitchell.
CR Brewery offers a family-friendly atmosphere and boasts a mini theater which can be reserved by any group. They also offer DirecTV and a PD4 to play video games on the big screen. For the arcade fans, there is an arcade with a Star Wars pinball machine, Big Buck Hunter, Cruisn' car racing game, and some console machines with more classic games like Mario and Pac Man. With a sprawling building to spread out for its customers, they can also find an air hockey table, foosball table and pool table.
Toomey's eclectic style also offers a fun atmosphere throughout the establishment, with two large metal sculptures of a T-rex and raptor dinosaurs at the entrance facing Main Street. As one walks through the building, old-fashioned chandeliers with flickering light bulbs illuminate the interior, including cruiser style bicycles hanging on the walls, a fire pit made out of an old 1920s-era pickup, and even an early 1960s Chevrolet Corvette Stingray.
Beginning Thursday, July 8, they will be doing a cruiser bike ride for ladies and kids during the summer months. Participants meet behind the brewery and leave around 6 p.m. each evening.
Crooked Roots Brewing
Owner: Jesse Toomey
General Manager: Amanda Mitchell
Address: 420 N. Main St.
Hours: noon to 9 p.m. seven days per week
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