With new owners, a new menu and a remodel, the popular restaurant is back in business.

The re-opening of a popular long-time Gaston tavern comes with some special meaning and a local embrace.

On Wednesday, April 25, Ace Tavern at 114 Front St. opened its doors to the public, looking a lot different than it did when it closed several years ago.STAFF PHOTO: CHRISTOPHER OERTELL - While Ace Tavern's layout has stayed the same, all of the floors, walls and amenities have been replaced.

The tavern has been there for many, many years, though it closed three years ago when Mark Zaiger, who owned and operated it for 29 years, died unexpectedly, said new co-owner Frank Reichard.

Reichard and fellow Ace Tavern co-owner Florian Davis owned Forest Grove Auto Broker F & F Inc. for 20 years before deciding to sell the business.

"After we sold our car lot in Forest Grove, I think we kind of got bored and somebody said, 'Why don't you buy the Ace Tavern?'" Reichard said. "So me and Florian thought about it and said 'OK, we will try it."'

And so they did.

While the layout of the bar has been maintained, almost everything else has been upgraded, giving the tavern a very warm and modern look.

The all-wood walls and floors were built using local trees, and the woodwork was done by Davis himself, who also owns F&C Custom Cabinets Inc. in Forest Grove, Reichard said.

"All of the knotty white oak and the black walnut came from a lady in Gaston," Reichard said. "So the trees were cut on her property, Florian milled them, dried them, made all of this out of it. And then the redwood came from Hillsboro on some fallen trees."

Throughout the tavern are several owls printed into the wood, which Davis added to commemorate his wife, Marilyn, who died unexpectedly just months ago, shortly after Davis and Reichard purchased the tavern.

"It's kind of cool that Florian put them in, because that's what she collected," Reichard said. "So he wanted part of her to come in with the bar."

STAFF PHOTO: CHRISTOPHER OERTELL - On various parts of the walls inside Ace Tavern are owls, which are symbolic of the wife of one of the owners, who collected them before passing away six months ago.

While the exact date of the original Ace Tavern opening is unknown, new manager Dayna Dethlefs said, she used to pick up burgers from the back door as a little girl, and she will be 51 this year. Having known the tavern and the Reichards for many years, she and a third co-owner, Frank's wife Jodie Reichard, spent a lot of time perfecting the new menu.

Almost all of the food and sauces used are homemade, Dethlefs said, and they even hand-dip the fried food themselves.

"There was a famous Ace burger that everyone came here for," Dethlefs said. "And we tried to mimic that as close to it as we could, and so far, everyone seems to be pretty happy with it."

Since opening a week ago, the tavern has been nothing short of packed, Frank Reichard said. With a maximum capacity of 90, the tavern has already reached it on multiple occasions.

And while the new look and menu seem to have impressed the Gaston crowd already, Reichard still has many new features in store.

In the works is an outdoor "beer garden" area, which will feature horseshoe pits, cornhole, fire pits, pool tables and outdoor TVs, Reichard said. There will also be live music, karaoke and more pool tables inside in the near future.

Tom Raab, a Gaston resident of nearly four decades, was a regular at the old Ace Tavern.

"I was good friends with the previous owner," he said. "I had my spot in the parking lot. I had my stool at the bar."

STAFF PHOTO: CHRISTOPHER OERTELL - One of the owners Frank Reichard pours tequila and chats with Tom Raab, a longtime Gaston resident who considered himself a regular at the original Ace Tavern.

Raab, who is retired, already seems to have made himself a regular at the new tavern. He said he's pleased to see it back in business.

"The reopening of this tavern was anxiously awaited for, and we are glad to see it's here," he said. "There is no controversy about a tavern opening up in this town."

In the small town of Gaston, Raab said the Ace Tavern has been a special spot for many people over the years.

"This was kind of like the community hall for the city in a lot of ways," Raab said. "There were a lot of regulars. It was a thriving bar before Mark passed away, and it has become a thriving bar again already."

COURTESY PHOTO: MARLA MONTGOMERY - Marla Montgomery (right) around 1976 at Ace Tavern in Gaston. 'Best hamburgers EVER.  I still think of them,' she said.

By Olivia Singer
Reporter, Forest Grove News-Times and Hillsboro Tribune
Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Follow Olivia at @oliviasingerr
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