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Mar-13-2014 02:30printcomments

Ahoy, Mateys! The Pirate's Den is Back!

Bring your appetite and check out the “new” old Pirate hangout!

Pirates Den
The Pirate's Den in Dayton, Oregon is once again open for business. Photo by Dave "Surfer Dave" Torres

(DAYTON, Ore.) - For the last 50 years, the town of Dayton, Oregon has been the home of the Pirate’s Den café. It is located directly across from the High School, and has been a part of generations of students’ best homegrown memories.

Ricardo & son Andreas Fonseca

It came to be in the early 60’s when the café replaced a small grocery store, which locals called the “little store”.

Barb Jacks was a freshman in the Fall of 1963, and participated in the voting when the school’s student body decided on the name “The Pirate’s Den”. Barb remembers that she actually voted for “Pirate’s Cove”, which would have been another good choice.

Thousands of people have experienced the Pirate’s Den’s spirited atmosphere. In the late 70’s, a “student special” was 75 cents. That got you a burger, fries and small drink. By the time we were seniors, the price was up to $1.50. The profit was not in the money, it couldn’t have been. I think the operators must have been fueled by more than cash. They must have felt a sense of satisfaction, taking care of so many hungry kids every single day.

Those of us that were there in its heyday recall pinball machines, and eventually foos-ball, and a juke box that would give you three songs for a quarter. So many songs were played repeatedly, but I don't recall anyone complaining. You can never have too much Zeppelin.

The Pirates Den was always open on game nights, and what an exciting place it could be. There were always dozens of students lined up around the bar stools, vying for the attention of whoever was taking food orders. It was loud. Multi-tasking was mandatory, and probably plenty of aspirin behind the counter.

As full of life as a place can be, eventually the energy runs thin, and that’s what happened to the Pirate’s Den. With construction needs and other considerations, it became more difficult to keep open. The building has been sitting empty for about ten years, and has been a sad subject for alumni as they drove through their old stompin grounds.

Students after school, heading for the Pirate's Den, 1979

What good news it was last October when I happened to see construction workers taking charge of the rather crippled old building and turning it back into the stand-up establishment that it once was.

The building has been repaired and much replaced, including a brand new kitchen and some small changes within the restaurant.

New owners Ricardo and Anny Fonseca were captured by the history of the Pirate’s Den. Everyone they talked to in Dayton had a story, a memory, a sentimental moment that they were anxious to share. The enthusiasm in the community helped them know they had made the right decision to make the Pirate’s Den into what it once was, and more.

They will be serving breakfast, lunch and dinner with an impressive menu. Start your day with pancakes, waffles, eggs and breakfast burritos, and then come back for lunch to enjoy chipotle bowls, burgers, burritos, tamales and fries, and you’ll want to take a couple of rotisserie chickens home for dinner, and be tempted to come back for dessert and a coffee drink.

Yesteryear at the Pirate's Den

It’s the same Pirate’s Den, with a grown up attitude. Yes, it is still cool.

There is no juke box, but they do have a great sound system. “We looked at juke boxes because we know it would be very fun, but it was hard to find one that worked well, so we decided on new technology instead,” Ricardo said.

They’ve installed a big screen TV and have a “full sports package”, so the Blazers will be appearing in living color regularly all season long, when the DHS Pirates aren’t playing, of course.

Ricardo pointed out the grassy areas where tables will be erected for outdoor dining. “We want people to enjoy this experience more than ever. We hope families will make us a regular stop, and that the students spend their lunchtime with us and stop by after school too.”

“We are excited about the new memories people will come away with,” Ricardo said as his young son Andreas swung from his arm. “Someday it will be kids like this, all grown up, telling stories about the Pirates Den. We really hope so.”

Grand Opening of the Pirate’s Den is Thursday, March 13, 2014.



Comments Leave a comment on this story.

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Cheryl Kirk May 17, 2014 6:51 pm (Pacific time)

I use to work there during lunch and after school for around a year. It was my most favorite job ever! Chocolate shakes with sixlets candy in them. Tootsie pops ...and we would throw the dollars into the chip box under the counter. I don't know how Pam's Mom kept up with all those orders but she never got them wrong. So glad to see it's back up and running

karina March 13, 2014 7:13 pm (Pacific time)

Finally!!! I can be a part of history and say I went to the pirate`s den!! :)

krystal March 13, 2014 6:00 pm (Pacific time)

I can't wait to stop in!

Coach Connelly March 13, 2014 9:21 am (Pacific time)

I have sent students (sneaky) like to the Pirate's Den for vanilla cokes and they would say, "OH. You're here for Mr. Connelly, eh" and after softball practice, when I had some extra dollars, we'd all head for the Pirate's Den for a treat.... Welcome Back!!!

Benjie March 13, 2014 8:58 am (Pacific time)


Daytonite March 13, 2014 3:05 am (Pacific time)

We love seeing things come back in Dayton, that place holds a million great memories, glad to know that the spirit lives on!

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