Local Business News on the Southern Oregon Coast
Local Businesses on the Southern Oregon Coast Featured in the South Coast Shopper
Blue Heron Bistro
By Annette Langenstein, Staff Writer 

Adam Palmer has owned the Blue Heron Bistro, located at 100 West Commercial Avenue in Coos Bay, since January 1 of 2015. But he’s worked at the restaurant for 12 years, ever since he was washing dishes there at age 15. He worked nights, and did concrete during the day. “This was my extra job on the side,” said Adam. “I just kept moving up here. Now I do a little bit of everything: greeting people, hosting...last night I was cooking and today I’m baking!”

And the baking that Adam does everyday includes fabulous desserts:  apple-huckleberry strudel with local berries and Granny Smith apples, made with lots and lots of butter but not a lot of sugar; chocolate hazelnut mousse, crème brulée, cheesecake…”We usually have five or six freshly made desserts each day,” said Adam.

The Blue Heron Bistro is famous for its German food, but they also have seafood, hamburgers, old fashioned sandwiches like Reubens, all kinds of salads and wonderful clam chowder. “I think our most popular dish is the Octoberfest,” said Adam. “It’s a platter with wiener schnitzel, sauerbraten, authentic bratwurst, sauerkraut, red cabbage and potato salad. We get our sausages hand-made by Gary from the Black Forest Deli at Honey Bear Campground down by Gold Beach. Gary is the real deal…he’s made sausages since he was 24 and he’s 72 now. Everything else we make here, including the bread.” And right then we took a break in the interview while Adam went to check on the bread…it smelled delicious.

So why did Adam decide to buy the Blue Heron? “That’s a great question…, you know, I guess it was just the right thing to do after working here for 12 years. It was time to move on up.”

The restaurant has undergone some changes since Adam took over. He told me, “we have a full bar, whereas before there were a limited amount of spirits. I put great emphasis on the European beers: the lagers, the darks, the bocks, the pilsners. I took that farther than the previous owner and really went out there as far as beers go. We have 13 imports on tap and three Oregon beers at any one time. Same with our wines…we have 10 German wines right now. We really try to specialize in the European beers and wines that you can’t find anywhere else locally.” 

Adam Palmer, new owner of the Blue Heron Bistro, poses in back of the bar where there are always authentic German brews on tap and great food to go with them.

Adam was born and raised in Reedsport and moved to Coos Bay when he was 14. I asked him what he would like Shopper readers to know about him and the Blue Heron’s previous owner. “The previous owner, Wim de Vriend, really did donate to a lot of causes, but he didn’t say much about it. People didn’t realize how much he did for this community. When you have a thousand people walking through your door, all asking for something, it’s easy to get grouchy about it, trust me. We try to donate to everyone we can, but unfortunately our pockets only go so deep. But I think it’s extremely important to support your community, especially when you’re in the business world.”

“The other thing I want to be known for is my customer service. I may not always agree with my customer, but they’re spending their money here, and I’m going to do my best to get them what they want. I’m much more flexible with my menu than Wim was and I try to cater to what people want to eat. I’ve expanded the menu quite a bit since I took over, adding more freshwater fish and Clausen oysters. We got rid of two freezers and now do our cabbage, cole slaw and sauerkraut by hand every day. And we’ve changed to Angus burgers instead of frozen patties.”

The Blue Heron was actually called the Hurry Back Café when Wim opened it in the early 1970’s. It was located in what is now the Driftwood Barbershop on Commercial Avenue, and it was rated the number one sandwich shop from Lincoln City to Brookings. They had 30-40 varieties of sandwiches, all named after the local area. “I would’ve hated to have had to remember all the combinations!” said Adam. “Wim actually built this current building in the late 1970’s or early 1980’s and that’s when he renamed it the Blue Heron Bistro.”

I got the impression that although Adam is extremely capable and comfortable running this restaurant, he’s very grateful for Wim De Vriend and his teaching throughout the years.  See for yourself how the place has changed and stay for a meal. Or give Adam a call at 541- 267-3933 and learn more about the wonderful German food and drink he has to offer, right in downtown Coos Bay!  

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