Mo's - a dining tradition on the oregon coast

By Patrick Johnson
For Oregon.com

Mo's in Lincoln City is right by the beach. Photo by Patrick JohnsonIf you visit the Oregon Coast, your trip isn't complete without a visit to Mo's.

The family-owned restaurant chain has been a destination point on the Oregon Coast for more than 60 years, one that native Oregonians as well as those from out of state make a point to visit.

Mo's famous clam chowder is only one reason to visit the restaurants started by Mohave Marie Niemi in the 1940s. Each of the six locations has stunning views of the water - or is steeped in the history of the owner.

What started as a 24-hour café, today serves lunch and dinner to more than 1 million people a year.

"It's amazing to me every time I think about it," says Gabrielle McEntee-Wilson, vice president of public relations and manager of the Otter Rock Mo's restaurant. "I think the reason we have lasted so long is that we have a high quality product that is associated with the coast and that we cater to families."

McEntee-Wilson says the clam chowder that has made the small restaurant chain famous hasn't changed in 60 years and that it's the simple seafood that people come to expect from Mo's.

"I manage the Otter Creek Mo's and I had a couple come in who didn't like seafood," she says. "They had a sandwich and a chili dog and I urged them to try the clam chowder. You can't come to Mo's without at least trying the clam chowder."

Most meals are accompanied with another Mo's great - the dinner salad topped with shrimp.

But don't worry if you suffer from shellfish allergies. Mo's is more than just clam chowder and shrimp on salad. From standard American dinner fare to halibut, tuna and salmon - or even a cold glass of beer or wine - there really is something for just about everyone at Mo's.

Each of the restaurants has its menu posted outside so you can check out not only what's fresh, but how much you are going to spend. The inexpensive meals are perfect for a family on vacation, or a quick lunch.

Each of the Mo's locations also has great views - the Mo's at Lincoln City sits right next to the water and even has a small pier you can walk out on to. The large picture windows make the atmosphere perfect for either a quick lunch or evening dinner stop.

If you make a trip to the Oregon Coast, try to visit the original Mo's located in the historic district of Newport's bay front. It's small, but the atmosphere is wonderful. If it's too cramped for your tastes, there is another Mo's across the street - and it also has water views.

Mo's West, at Otter Rock, might not have a deep fryer, but it does have the corner on the whale-watching market. Placed near a state park that features the Devil's Punchbowl, it's the perfect place to get out of the wind and enjoy a sandwich or hot bowl of clam chowder.

"Our customers are so diverse," McEntee-Wilson says. "We have divers, loggers and longshoreman sitting next to families on vacation. I really enjoy that part about this business and am just happy to be able to give each of them a good meal and a great place to visit."

Story by Patrick Johnson, a freelance writer based in Canby.