It’s easy, driving along in your car, to completely miss the Western experience that is Pendleton.
If you don’t visit during the Pendleton Round-Up, it’s easy to visit the museums, visitor centers and businesses and totally miss the old western vibe the community offers.
That is, if you don’t visit Hamley’s.
Whether it’s walking into the Hamley Café, which offers coffee, breakfast items and serves lunch, or having a meal at the Hamley Steakhouse, or visiting the historic Hamley & Co Makers Western Store, you will walk away feeling exactly like you have visited the old west.
“Parley (Pearce) and Blair (Woodfield) felt it was very important to keep the tradition of the company alive,” said Jan MacGregor, Steakhouse Comptroller.
The Hamley history goes all the way back to England, but the American history starts in 1850 when William Hamley moved his family from England to Ripon, Wisconsin, where they owned a small leather goods store. The trade of saddle and leather craftsmanship was passed down through many generations.
Through tough times the store was moved to Pendleton, Oregon in 1905 by John James Hamley into the same building it is in today. Hamley was known as a harness and saddle maker, and the business developed, earning the reputation of “the finest saddles man could ride.”
That tradition is on display today in the Western Shop, an aspect of Hamley’s that MacGregor says too many people miss.
“Hamley’s is known for our world famous saddles, but there are a number of really nice gifts, clothing and leather items that are available in the western store,” she said. “Even if you aren’t looking for a saddle, the store has artwork, clothing and gifts and is a great visit.”
The highlight of the store isn’t only the craftsmanship of the saddles, but the huge bronze statue of a cowboy riding a bronco that is in the entryway.
That artwork and craftsmanship of the historic western store has translated into a unique dining experience, no matter if you visit the laid-back Café, or the Steakhouse.
While the coffee and food at the café lives up to the Hamley’s name, you really do need to visit the steakhouse to see how the two partners have decorated their restaurant.
From a Tiffany’s chandelier greeting you when you enter, to the antique ceiling fans, artwork, and antique bars, the Hamley Steakhouse is a must-see destination if you are visiting Pendleton.
Whether it’s the USDA Prime graded steaks or the traditional ranch-style cooking – both Parley and Blair grew up on ranches – the food is as amazing as the décor.
“Parley and Blair has done a tremendous job hand picking the antiques” MacGregor said. “When you see the décor, it gives one a sense of walking back in time.”
MacGregor, who knows the story behind many of the antiques and aspects of the building – including the amazing downstairs wine cellar and the upstairs conference rooms, banquet room and bar – said that tours are available if you call ahead first.
“We enjoy giving tours, especially to small groups,” she said.
So whether it’s the food, the gifts and clothing or even the saddles, Hamley’s is worth a visit if you find yourself in Pendleton.
About Hamley & Co.: (From www.thehamleysteakhouse.com) Hamley & Co. was founded 125 years ago with the philosophy to offer only “quality articles built for those tired of the extravagance of buying cheap things.” Since 1883, the Hamley name has been known for quality. Our mission at the Hamley Steakhouse is to carry on this proud tradition by serving the best food your hard earned money can buy.
What to bring: An appetite. The lunch I had I couldn’t finish and was amazing. You could spend an entire afternoon just visiting the café for lunch, the western store in the afternoon and then the steakhouse for a dinner.
Tip: If you would like a tour of the facilities, call ahead. The tour is well worth the pre-planning as every aspect of both buildings has a story.
Season: The Café, Steakhouse and Western store are open year round.
Getting there: Hamley & Co. is located at the corner of SW Court and Main in historic downtown Pendleton. The western store is next door to the restaurants. The address is 8 SE Court, Pendleton.
By Patrick Johnson