(Photo above: 900 Wall staff tasting cuisine before reopening restaurant | by Krystal Marie Collins)
After a seven-month closure for renovations, one of downtown Bend’s favorite fine dining locales, 900 Wall re-opened May 25. General Manager Katie Egge explains, “What started out as a leaky pipe turned into significant water damage under the building. We were only going to be closed for six weeks, however, water damage coupled with subpar construction from previous building owners and tenants led to the replacement of the entire infrastructure of the building (plumbing, electrical, flooring, walls, etc.) in addition to aesthetic updates and operational improvements for efficiency.”
Originally built in 1919 and known as the historical Buchwalters Building, it was the first full-service sporting goods business in Central Oregon.
Egge says Mark Leavitt of Kirby Nagelhout Construction, Lynn Baker of Ascent Architecture & Design effectively executed the decisions that she, Mike Ellsworth (900 Wall owner), Cliff Eslinger (chef), Marcus Egge (wine buyer & bar manager) and Rick Mikesell (building owner) made for construction.
Among the renovations are new flooring (concrete, radiant heating), additional sound dampening, a modified kitchen layout for improved efficiency, plumbing and fixture upgrades, new lighting throughout the building, new concrete counter and bar tops, more exposed brick (removal of drywall and wainscoting), new carpet, ceiling fans and paint.
Mikesell explains that the entire refurbishing project started with the leak, “but when we got into the repairs, it was obvious we needed to start from scratch. The only thing left remaining of the original building is the exterior walls.
“I’ve done these historic structures before and when you get into these old buildings, you never know what you’re going to find. This building has great frame on the outside but some shortcuts were taken during the original renovations. We found some extensive problems with piping and some major work needed to be done. The contractor, Kirby Nagelhout, did a great job of completing this project.
“Now with the way it’s been reconstructed, we won’t have to touch it for a long time. As a long term investor, I buy assets and we want to do repairs right the first time around. I’m a buyer in downtown Bend, not a seller.”
Mikesell, who plans to move his family to Bend soon, is also the owner of St. Clair Place in downtown Bend and the Jinsei Spa building on Newport Avenue. “The 900 Wall building is one of the best assets in downtown Bend, and it’s nice to bring it up to the quality it needs to be. ”
Leavitt, superintendent on the re-vamp, says although the building was upgraded it, “retains all of the character of the business. It will have the same great atmosphere and staff. Installation of all new under-floor utilities, which required the complete removal of the interior equipment, walls and old wood floor, was challenging, especially combined with a confined work space and an aggressive schedule. It was impressive how all of the subcontractors came together to get the interior and equipment ready.”
Baker, project interior designer, offers, “Customers will enjoy added comfort with new lighting and fans in the dining room. We created the feel of intimacy with new pendant light fixtures at tables and accent lighting at the brick wall. Old-fashioned belt-driven fans will be a point of interest for everyone to enjoy and are an exciting way to tie in the age of the building.”
“There are new dishes on the menu but the concept remains the same,” explainsEgge. She is confident that when dining at 900 Wall, customer experience will be enhanced by the 70 percent retention rate maintained for staff despite the closure. “We are proud to say that our staff and team are like a family and many of us have worked together for over a decade. We are all very excited to return to work and do what we love.”
900 NW Wall St., Bend, OR 97701