That’s the name of the Downtown Camas restaurant that’s changing the dining scene in Mill Town. It’s a restaurant, but it’s more than that — it’s an experience that’s a sensation of flavors that will that satisfy foodies, and those who simply want a good meal. It’s also an escape for patrons, who come from near and far to taste what Michelin Chef Peter Rudolph and his talented team are offering.
You opened in May, but what’s with the name?
“It’s a greeting,” said Rudolph, who partnered with Don Riedthaler to open this new endeavor. “It’s a starting of a conversation that we hope to be an inviting term. In a broader sense, ‘We’re all Jack.’ It’s part of endearing ourselves to a local community and becoming a dining destination. A place to sit on the patio outside for Sunday brunch. It’s something that when we settled on the name, we knew we had settled on the right name. It was something that embodied those qualities that we wanted to have in our establishment.”
“We answer the phone ‘Hey Jack!’ which you have to say with a warm intonation. It’s a wonderful way to start a conversation. When I say it I feel like I’m conveying the entirety of our concept to someone. I guess it’s very personal. We put so much personal time into the creation and design of the space. The comma was a big point for us. The comma means it’s the start of a conversation. It showed that were are able to reach out and welcome people.”
What are you about?
It’s a neighborhood restaurant with a comfortable atmosphere with wonderful cuisine and wines that celebrate the local community. Using mostly products sourced from local farmers, Randolph and Riedthaler have created a place that’s not too fancy, but it’s also not a brew pub.
“We source a lot of product from local farmers,” said Rudolph. “We source products as locally as possible, and the same thing with the beer and wine list. We have fun with the food and the cuisine, and try to express a unique, individual view of the local products.”
Rudolph is enjoying the Pacific Northwest scene.
“I’m starting to get a grasp on the seasons,” he said. “It’s really different here. We are creating relationships. Becoming part of the community takes time. As a chef and restaurateur these things are evident to our guests. I’ve learned a lot about how I can work with the local seasons and farmers and bringing that product to our menu. I continue to develop relationships with them, and how to get the best of their product here. To see the produce I think is the best.”
“I took my dad here for his birthday,” said Ruth Radford, of Portland. “We had a wonderful time, and everything we ordered was absolutely delicious. We will definitely be back. I recommend Hey Jack to everyone.”
For his part, Rudolph said he enjoys becoming part of the Camas community.
“It’s such a wonderful place,” said Rudolph. “It’s so diverse. I’m getting more product from local farmers: Spring Hill Farms, Wild Roots, Millennium Farms, Quackenbush Farms — as I’ve started to get this produce — and as a chef you get inspired by that produce. Then I start to think about how that produce will make it to the menu.”
“On the menu, we have salmon wrapped in a fig leaf and roasted in the hearth. The fig leaf gives an amazing aroma. We put that with carrots and summer squash that come from the same farm. I was inspired by the fig leaf and created a fig sauce to go with it, and combined it with vegetables. That’s a really good example of working with the farmers and is a good expression of the food at Hey Jack. Reister Farms is amazing and they provide us lamb, and it’s a wonderful product. We’re putting the tenderloin and making a fresh sausage with tepary beans.”
These are good examples of local product and getting experiences and flavors that create a unique offering.
Rudolph and Riedthaler worked together professionally for three years in the Bay Area. In Menlo Park, Randolph was an Executive Chef at Rosewood Sandhill Hotel and Madera Restaurant, and Riedthaler was an equipment sales specialist that serviced the hotel.
“We tried to do some other projects together,” said Rudolph. “In 2017, we both left the Bay Area in pursuit of other things, and we ended up meeting a year later in Camas.”
Rudolph’s family moved into a van and traveled around the country for a year, exploring the food scene all across the country.
He said that barbecue changes so diversely across the country, and that it doesn’t change like the time zones, but rather it changes gradually.
“We ate quite a bit of BBQ and you see little changes in the sauce or the spice, and the cuts of meat that an area focuses on,” Rudolph said. “As we moved from area to area, and in the rural areas you started to see the changes. Then, you get to Dallas, or KC, and they have strong identities.”
Produce and Farmer’s Markets
“They play a big role in our lives, and always have. These farmer’s markets that celebrate their local produce are great. You see that produce and how it’s used by the local community. There are so many strong areas that I didn’t know about. Pickling, curing or sauces or jams or jellies are just used with so many products. Totally different depending on where you go. It’s eye opening and refreshing to see that. Those are two big things that we saw in our travels.”
Hey Jack, Why Camas?
“I came to visit some friends, including Don, who lived in the area, and we ended up becoming interested in this space and doing something together and fell in love with the downtown Camas area. Out of that energy and this opportunity with this space this project was born.”
The partners took possession February 5, and opened up on May 1.
“I really enjoy the nature of the people here,” said Rudolph. “Everyone is very authentic. There’s a broad cross-section of life. I enjoy the small town feel.”
Hey Jack now has a working OpenTable for reservations, as well as posted menus on the website — www.heyjackkitchen.com
The restaurant is open from 5 to 9 pm Tuesdays through Saturdays, with a Sunday brunch from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. It’s really delicious with wonderful cheeses, and different flights of wine from their list, along with special wines.
They’re located in Downtown Camas, on 4th Avenue in the Camas Hotel building.