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'You gotta take care of these people': Oregon City restaurant closes kitchen early to give staff relief from the heat

Coasters Crossing shuts down its kitchen by 2 p.m. to keep temperatures down for the cooks and created a “Chill Out Menu” with cold food items for customers.

OREGON CITY, Ore. — With the Pacific Northwest still in the middle of a brutal heat wave, some local business owners have gotten creative to help their employees work through the heat while keeping them safe.

Brian Grant, owner of Oregon City brewpub Coasters Crossing, shared his recipe for success.

"Happy employees is the key to good restaurants," he said.

When temperatures reached triple digits this week, he decided to shut down the kitchen by 2 p.m. every day.

"After we open up, we make the clam chowder, pre-cook some chicken, bacon, that sort of thing, and after that we turn off the kitchen and keep our employees from roasting," said Grant. "Those guys work their tails off, it gets hot out there and we want to make sure they're happy."

They've also closed the patio for the safety of employees and created a special "Chill Out Menu" with cold food items like salads, sandwiches and oyster shooters.

Credit: KGW
'Coasters Crossing' closed the patio to keep employees safe from the extreme heat and created a menu with cold food items

"The price items are a little smaller, a little bit lighter, so it's impacting some — but we're still hanging in there, we're still doing fine," said Grant.

Other restaurants are also adjusting. Both Papa Haydn locations on Northwest 23rd and Southeast Milwaukie are closing at 5 p.m. Thursday instead of 10 p.m. to give employees relief from the heat.

Event organizers are following suit. Organizers of "Last Thursday" on Alberta Street postponed this month's gathering because of extreme heat. The event will be rescheduled for September 29. It brings together local vendors and artists the last Thursday of every month from June through August.

"This was a decision that was made both by our partners and by PBOT together and we opted to play it safe and not put anyone in unnecessary danger," said Hannah Schafer, interim director of communications at the Portland Bureau of Transportation.

That's a feeling shared by Grant at Coasters Crossing. He says his employees helped him through a difficult couple years with the pandemic and he wants to make sure their wellbeing comes before everything else.

"They're family — you gotta take care of these people ... they take care of me," he said.

RELATED: Number of Portland homes with air conditioning has nearly doubled in past decade

RELATED: Portland counts three of Oregon's four suspected heat-related deaths this week

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