Welcome to new Salem Area Chamber of Commerce member, FairWay Salem at the Salem Golf Club! The restaurant opened in July 2017 and is owned by Bruce Carey and Joe Rogers, who own and operate four renowned restaurants in Portland, including Bluehour, Saucebox, 23Hoyt and Clarklewis.
On the first and tenth tee at the Salem Golf Club, FairWay combines modern sensibilities of farm-to-table cooking with the traditions of a classic American steakhouse.
Read more about Bruce and Joe’s story:
What is your background? How did you get started in the restaurant business?
Bruce: Coming out of college at the University of Oregon, I supported myself through grad school by waiting tables at the Excelsior Café in Eugene, a fine-dining Italian restaurant. After that, I wanted to move out of state and my sister was in San Francisco, so I relocated and landed a job at Zuni Café. I hadn’t always planned to stay in the restaurant business, but being at such good restaurants in San Francisco, I realized it was a great career.
Later on, I met some friends and talked them into moving to Portland, where we opened my first restaurant called Zefiro in 1990 at 21st and Gleason in NW Portland. It was a hit. Then I started opening up other restaurants basically every five years. Saucebox came in 1995 and then Bluehour in 2000. Clarklewis opened in 2003, and we bought it in 2007.
Joe: Bruce and I became friends back in 1993, but I didn’t get into the actual restaurant business until 2000. I was in the Air Force, and I moved to Winston, Oregon and went to Umpqua Community College. From there, I moved up to Portland and got a degree in German and Psychology from Portland State University. At that time, Bruce’s previous partner decided to sell his shares in a restaurant called Saucebox. That was my entrance into the restaurant world, and we’ve been partners in business ever since.
Why did you move to Salem?
Bruce: I have been working around a chronic illness, and unfortunately it is not getting any better. It was important to us that we be close to family – and much of my family lives in Salem.
What’s the best part of opening a new restaurant? What excites you about it?
Bruce: Hiring new staff is rewarding. Assembling the team, hiring the managers, and then getting everyone on the same page. It’s cliché, but you start to develop a family. It’s fun.
What kind of restaurant is Fairway?
Bruce: We are a hometown, family restaurant, focused on providing warm hospitality. I think of Fairway as not necessarily a special occasion restaurant, but more of an everyday place for people. There are so many different rooms and different venues for the different moods. It can be your regular go-to Tuesday night place or it could be your special occasion destination. We have a family-friendly environment, and we’re open on Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve.
What are some of your passions? How do they fuel you every day?
Joe: My children. Between five restaurants and children, that’s basically the whole day. My other passions include food, wine, hospitality and creating a great family life.
Bruce: I enjoy entertaining people at home. I’m not the chef, but I’m a pretty good cook. Joe likes using cookbooks so we have quite a collection of them at home.
What are some difficulties that you face in your industry?
Joe: Finding the right staff that is like-minded is the first difficulty that comes to mind. Related to that, it can be a challenge to find people that are skilled at a certain level because there’s a pretty big training curve. It affects what we do until everyone is on the same page. If you don’t have a staffing pool of a lot of people who are already at the level you need to be at or near it, you’ve got a pretty long haul before you can get your business to where you want it to be.
Is there a saying or quote that impacts your day-to-day?
Bruce: Staff should host the party, not be the party. That’s what we do, we facilitate other people’s enjoyment.
What are some of your goals for Chamber membership?
Bruce: I want to get the word out that we’re here. We want people to know about all the options we have. The event space, the banquet room upstairs, the event tent and the café are all great opportunities for large groups and business meetings.
What is one thing you wish everyone in Salem knew about your restaurant?
Bruce: Our intention is strictly to provide the best-quality dining experience. We source locally and use organic products whenever possible. We’re proud of the way our chef approaches the way food is prepared, which can often be taken for granted in other restaurants. Our chef, for example, insists on making the hash browns by hand every morning even when the temptation can be to buy frozen products.
Joe: Outside of sourcing locally, we are creating partnerships with purveyors for high-quality products. One example is our beef program is from Double R Ranch, a regionally sourced beef company.
Be sure to check out FairWay Restaurant today!