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Newly renamed Lolo's Boss Pizza dishes up gourmet pies and slices with a seasonal twist.

PMG PHOTO: ANGEL ROSAS - Once Leslie Henson became the sole owner of the restaurant, she renamed the eatery Lolo's Boss Pizza. Although Leslie Henson updated the name of her artisanal pizzeria in Troutdale, she guarantees that Lolo's Boss Pizza on 275 E. Columbia River Highway, will keep the amazing flavors and recipes that made The Way Out Inn such a household name for locals.

When Henson became the sole owner of The Way Out Inn, she knew that she wanted to give the pizza and pub spot an update.

Henson and then-partner Luke Bates opened the Way Out Inn in 2017 and quickly developed a following thanks to their dough and sauce that they made from scratch. The restaurant also turned some heads with their unique seasonal pizza toppings that included strawberries and pears.

In 2020, Bates moved on to other ventures leaving Henson the boss of the shop. "I took the opportunity when I became the sole owner to rebrand," Henson said.

Along with some interior and exterior renovations, Henson also changed the name to Lolo's Boss Pizza. Wanting to make the restaurant her own and a little less confusing than their previous name, Henson named the shop after her nickname: Lolo.

"We wanted the name to be a little more obvious with our name," Henson said. "People have also been so supportive of us through COVID so we wanted to improve the (interior) for when things start to open up."

The name changes and cosmetic improvements aside, Henson and company are still dedicated to making amazing pizza, many of which are made with vegetables and fruits from local farms.

"What we appreciate about this area is that there are so many cool little farms," Henson said. "There are farms in Corbett, Sandy and everywhere in between and it just felt like a no-brainer to avail ourselves to everything that there is here."

In a rough estimate, Henson said the restaurant works with about eight local farms. She also tries extremely hard to make sure that Lolo's is fully stocked with local and/or Oregon based beers, ciders, wines and desserts.

Another way Henson likes to use her access to local farmers is by experimenting with unconventional ingredients like ground cherries, radicchio or even going out herself and foraging for chanterelle mushrooms.

"It is fun once in a while to bring an item in that people might not be familiar with and even educate them too," Henson said. "It is just cool to use something that we are enjoying and bring it in, even if it is just for a pop-up special."

Henson said that adding a few new things to the menu keeps things fresh for the customers and is fun for them as well. Although one would think some of the more bizarre toppings and ingredients would scare off most potential pizza consumers, Henson said that many of her customers love the restaurant's experimental slices.

"We have a really good core group of customers who are more apt to try the seasonal pizzas, but I am pleasantly surprised by the amount of tourists here to visit the gorge who are willing to give it a try," Henson said.

Like many businesses, COVID-19 was a strain on the newly renamed restaurant. However, Henson said that the pandemic did force the group to pivot. Henson started offering delivery and pickup options for her customers, which is a process that she decided to keep since it had been such a hit during the pandemic.

Looking to the future, Henson and Lolo's operations manager Rick Reddaway have plans to continue investing in the business and downtown Troutdale with a new bar that would be located right below the pizzeria.

"We got offered some additional space, so we got started on that project," Henson said. "We hope to make it a little speakeasy because there is hardly anything open late at night over here."

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