The Country celebrates 38 years in town
More than three decades ago, a magazine that Linda Parsons was reading would chart the course of much of her life.
When the restaurant magazine she was preparing to read flipped open to the classifieds section, she saw an advertisement about an Estacada restaurant that was for sale.
"It just slipped open to that page," Parsons recalled.
She was enrolled in restaurant management classes at Portland Community College and decided to purchase the Estacada establishment at 341 N.E. Main St. Since then, she's owned The Country Restaurant and Lounge — formerly known as LB's and, prior to her purchase, the Timber Time Buffet.
On Saturday, Aug. 5, The Country will celebrate its 38th year in business. Changes are also afoot: Parsons and her husband, Glen, plan to list the restaurant for sale in the coming weeks.
"People ask when I'm going to retire, because I work at the restaurant all the time," Parsons said. "I do enjoy working the restaurant, but I am getting tired, at 68 and 74 we are ready to travel a little and slow down."
The couple plans to travel across the country, visiting states where they have family or friends and exploring other ones where they have never been.
Parsons has enjoyed the time she's spent at The Country.
"My whole life story is pretty much this (restaurant)," she said. "I haven't ever thought about doing anything else. This has been what I enjoy doing."
She noted that from the restaurant's earliest days, one of its hallmarks has been its menu, which features more than 200 items.
"I can't stop adding to the menu," Parsons said, noting that she sometimes jokes that she should have named the restaurant 'Choices,' because of the many decisions customers are able to make about the food they eat. "We like having a wide variety (of food) to fit everyone's tastes. We like people to have options."
Though all meals are served, one of the restaurant's main focuses is breakfast. This was one of Parson's goals when she opened the establishment.
"I always wanted breakfast, and I couldn't understand why it wasn't offered all the time," she said, estimating that 85 to 90 percent of what she serves is breakfast. "We wanted to offer that."
Parsons has enjoyed the connections she's made with people because of the restaurant.
"It's been nice," she said. "People come back and say 'you made a difference in my life."
For example, one day a young girl slipped an item from the store's gift shop into her pocket. Parsons asked her if she wanted to buy it and told her she should be careful about what she puts in her pocket, because people might think she was stealing.
"(Later that day) she came back and brought me a rose," Parsons recalled. "Years later, she came back and said, 'Thanks, I've never stolen anything again.' "
Parsons has also enjoyed getting to know her employees.
"Our employees are our extended family," she said. "Some of them have been with us for over 20 years and some 7 or 8. I had a former employee call from Germany to say she was getting married. They check back in. That's nice."
Parsons noted that, after 38 years, "it will be strange not to have" the restaurant.
"Hopefully by the time it gets here I'll be ready," she said.
In the meantime, there will be free anniversary cake on Saturday, Aug. 5, to celebrate all of The Country's years in business.
"This is what I was meant to do," Parsons said. "I can't imagine doing any other work."