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The popular Tualatin restaurant will close its doors Saturday. A new restaurant is already planned for the spot.

PMG PHOTO: JAIME VALDEZ - After more than 23 years in business, Charlie Sitton, will shut down Haydens Lakefront Grill shuts its doors Saturday evening. However, he will continue running the Century Hotel next door.  After more than two decades running an iconic Tualatin hotspot, it's time for some new blood, says Charlie Sitton, co-owner of Hayden's Lakefront Grill.

And that said, the restaurant will serve up its noted American food and one last dish of its famed seafood chowder Saturday evening, Feb. 26, before turning over the keys to a new owner on March 1.

"We've had great support from the area in the last 23 years," said Sitton. "I'll be honest with you, that's what helped us get through COVID was the local support we've had and we got through it."

While the pandemic has proved to be a challenge, he said it's simply time to let someone else give the lakefront location a try.

That someone is Mark Byrum, founder and chief executive officer of the Urban Restaurant Group, who will soon bring open Brix Tavern South in the same space.

Sitton said Byrum, who currently runs the Brix Tavern in Northwest Portland, had been talking about locating one of his restaurants in Tualatin, and this was the perfect time to give some "some new life" to downtown Tualatin.

"He approached me several years ago and I guess over the course of time, we've kind of been seeing what he's done. He's local and I think he's done a good job," said Sitton. "It'll be a really good addition, a nice new place with a new vibe, and I think it's going to be a great thing what Mark's got in mind here."

If all goes as planned, Brix Tavern South will open May 1.

Sitton, who also owns the adjacent Century Hotel, said the restaurant has prided itself simply on having "good American food" along with nice banquet facilities.

"We'll still keep the hotel and do that, but we needed to let somebody else run the restaurant," said Sitton, who turns 60 this year.

Even before there was a Hayden's, there was a Century Hotel. Sitton and his father-in-law, Don Roberts, built the original 40 rooms of the hotel at Tualatin Lake at the Commons 1993. (It now has 70 rooms.) Sitton said the pad next to the hotel was always set up to accommodate a restaurant, which was named after Bill Hayden, who was a managing partner with Sitton and Roberts. Hayden's opened in 1998.

"The restaurant was a big hit right out of the box," said Sitton, noting that the hotel took a little longer to catch on since the it didn't quite have the visibility that other lodging along Interstate 5 had. That changed, however, as Tualatin grew and visitors started traveling deeper into Tualatin.

But Sitton said Hayden's has always been the place to be. PMG PHOTO: JAIME VALDEZ - Charlie Sitton says its the customers that he will miss once Haydens closes.

"It was great for five to 10 years, and then as time goes on, there was more stuff came out in the area. The competition got a little stiffer. But we've always done really well in the summer," he said, adding that in the summer, "There's no better place in the area to come and eat outside, when weather permitting, than Hayden's."

Sitton, an Oregon State University Hall of Famer who played basketball in Corvallis from 1980 to 1984, said the annual West Coast Giant Pumpkin Regatta, which has been on hold for the last two years because of COVID-19, has always proven to be a "cool event" that draws people to Tualatin Commons Park.

So too was the Tualatin Crawfish Festival, which used to be held at Tualatin Lake at the Commons until it outgrew the site and moved to Tualatin Community Park, he said.

Still, the biggest days for Hayden's have always been Easter, Mother's Day and Thanksgiving. The restaurant has been famous for its holiday buffets.

"Those are ones we really kind of knocked it out of the park," said Sitton, noting that staff sometimes served 1,000 people during those notable days.

Sitton says what he'll miss most about the closure of Hayden's will be his customers, calling himself a "people person."

One of those customers over the years has been Lou Ogden, Tualatin's former mayor.PMG PHOTO: JAIME VALDEZ - Haydens Lakefront Grill shut down on Feb. 26 after more than two decades as an iconic Tualatin restaurant.

Ogden said he remembers Hayden's being the original anchor at Tualatin Lake at the Commons. The site was redeveloped in the 1990s after years as a pet food factory.

"It was a bold move, and perhaps a leap of faith, for the Sittons and Bill Hayden to open the restaurant when none of the other surrounding development was yet underway," said Ogden.

He added, "Hayden's became a signature location not only at the Commons but in our entire community. Their great food and tremendous customer service was only surpassed by their continuing community service."

Ogden said the closure will be a loss for the community "and they certainly will be missed."PMG PHOTO: JAIME VALDEZ - Even after Haydens closes, Charlie Sitton will continue to run the Century Hotel, which he opened, along with his father-in-law Don Roberts, in 1993.

Still, Sitton says he'll be close by.

"I'm not going to retire, go crawl up and set up house somewhere — I still want to be active in the hotel, and so we'll keep chugging along here and doing what we do, and hopefully, I'll keep involved in the community and keep moving forward," he said.


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