Sometimes it is good to just leave the house and have no idea where you are going. This does not come natural to me, but my husband likes to explore, whether it be the mountains, another country, or, once in a while, our own local downtown Nampa. It was in this manner that we accidentally came across The Dewey Restaurant on 13th Ave. South, just a few days after it opened it doors and before it even had it’s sign up or it’s official opening. We decided to stay there for dinner.
It was the menu that interested me the most. It just sounded good and satisfying. I was particularly interested in the halibut fish and chips, though I did end up substituting crinkle sweet potato slices for the fries. My husband ordered the fried shrimp and garlic fries, but shared my appetizer onion rings with me. The fresh spinach strawberry salad with a strawberry vinaigrette is definitely something I will want to order again, even though there were several main dish items on the menu that made me think I would want to come back.
The airy, but friendly warehouse feel added to the sense of comfort in the restaurant. The table arrangement was clean and neat, spaced nicely, with a line of colorful, close-up photographs of train car graffiti across the back wall. There was a bar room off to the left side front, with a shiny jukebox waiting to be fully plugged in. A handful of other diners were already inside eating an early dinner. The staff made us feel right at home and got right to work serving us. (click on any photo to enlarge)
When the waitress brought my husband his beer “on tap,” we began to ask her a few questions. We were curious about this new restaurant in Nampa, as we have been frustrated in the past finding local places we like to eat. She tried to answer, but ended up telling us that, although she had designed the menu, she would need to get the owner to tell us more. And she was off to find him before we could object. We weren’t trying to give her the third degree!
A short while later, the owner appeared. Once he had clarified that he was not the chef, I felt more at ease. I had been concerned about stressing him out when he was trying to prepare food. As it turns out, he was Chris Strawn, a well established businessman in Nampa. He “just” manages the restaurant, aiming to find good people for the jobs. He also owns the Whiskey River on 1st Street downtown, and is very involved in the new Canyon County Co-op that is scheduled to open in September, located further east on 1st. Street. (You can also learn more about that on their Facebook page: Canyon County Co-op Facebook page.) He calls it his “Bermuda Triangle.”
Mr. Strawn, though dressed like he had been working diligently on some construction in the back, was patient and cheerful about talking with us. He described how he had researched Nampa’s history to find a name that would reflect Nampa’s heritage. When he came upon the story of the Dewey Palace, a hotel on 1st Street from 1903 to 1963, he knew he had found it. This article about the hotel has a nice photo of it. There seems to be some question about what led to it being torn down, the claims of it being structurally unsound being more suspect, Mr. Strawn said, after it took unusual force to get the building to cooperatively collapse!
Getting back to the food after Mr. Strawn had left, I found the portions of fish and chips to be about double what I could eat comfortably in one setting. The rest was boxed up and made a nice easy Sunday supper two days later. We had been told that the goal was to give Nampa a good restaurant that was high quality, but not expensive. Based on our experience that evening, I would say they are off to a good start at successfully meeting that goal.