A roofing crew replaced the roof on Sisters Depot Kitchen & Cocktail Bar in preparation for its reopening under new ownership. photo by Bill Bartlett
A roofing crew replaced the roof on Sisters Depot Kitchen & Cocktail Bar in preparation for its reopening under new ownership. photo by Bill Bartlett
Talk about bravery. In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, two Portland area entrepreneurs took a leap of faith and purchased The Depot Café, a Sisters fixture on Cascade Avenue, which shuttered last January with then owners placing the building for sale. A restaurateur would be the logical choice for a new occupant, given the existence of its kitchen, but with the food and beverage industry taking a massive hit from the pandemic it looked like the building would sit empty for a lengthy period.

Its prominence on the main shopping blocks raised concern for neighboring merchants fearful that unoccupied buildings, especially one with such history, would fuel the decline in shoppers especially as Sisters Rodeo, Sisters Outdoor Quilt Show, and Sisters Folk Festival (SFF) were all forced into cancellation of their 2020 events.

Along came Deb Yannariello and Eryn Ross, best friends for 21 years. They raised their kids together and worked in business and philanthropic projects. Six years ago, Deb opened 503 Uncorked, a quaint wine bar in Sherwood, Oregon. However, after the first couple of years, she realized it was not a one-person business and needed help. Eryn quickly and happily came on board as her business partner. The balance between Eryn’s financial acumen and Deb’s creativity was the successful pairing for a growing business.

Fast forward to this summer. Deb and Eryn came to Sisters in July for a much-needed break and the opportunity to catch up on neglected administrative obligations for their Sherwood business. They had been working tirelessly through all the necessary changes and pivots needed to survive during the COVID shutdown.

While in town, they saw the “For Sale” sign on The Depot Café and almost instantly the vision for a second location came to light. They had been looking for the perfect spot for over a year but nothing worked out.

“Call it destiny, fate, perfect timing, whatever — we quickly agreed that The Depot needed to be our next venture,” said Deb.

They closed on the building September 30 and the race was on.

Deb quickly moved to town and they have been working non-stop to renovate and remediate deferred maintenance — including a new roof. The popular back courtyard, a SFF venue, is being transformed to offer special dining areas for small groups.

The goal is to open the restaurant, rebranded as Sisters Depot Kitchen & Cocktail Bar, in early December, but COVID restrictions will dictate whether they open for dine in or takeout.

Deb noted, “An inspired chef has been hired, Ian Overmier. Ian is a graduate of The Culinary Institute of America in New York and has worked at recognizable restaurants throughout the country.”

The menu is near completion. Locally sourced ingredients for scratch-made soups and featured dishes such as eggplant Parmesan meatball skewers, depot burger, local salmon carbonara, and a porterhouse steak. Sisters Depot Kitchen & Cocktail Bar will be open for lunch and dinner, Wednesday through Sunday, 11:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. They will offer a happy hour which will include signature craft cocktails as well as Northwest wines and a variety of Northwest craft beers on tap.

Their website, www.sistersdepot.com, debuts in a few days. Facebook, Twitter and Instagram are live.

Future plans include live music, winemaker dinners, private event space and more.

With Bend-based Cibelli’s adding a Sisters pizzeria and Cottonwood Café opening Chow Burger — a pop up at its Hood Avenue eatery —dining in Sisters seems to be keeping the COVID blues at bay.