Owner Erin Hansen has added 500 square feet to the place
By Terri Harber
Ample attention is paid to the historic buildings in downtown Baker City as well as to the businesses lining Campbell Street near the interstate.
People wheeling up and down 10th Street can see something a little different - samples of roadside Americana similar to that along Route 66.
"I love 10th Street. The whole look and feel of it," said Ann Mehaffy, the former director of Historic Baker City Inc.
The farmland as well as the various signs and structures built during the middle of the past century provide "kind of an old-fashioned approach" into town, she said.
The Little Pig restaurant's main outdoor signs comes from that era. Neon spells out the name of the place, at 3685 10th St., and depicts the face of a smiling pig wearing a bow tie: welcoming and still ready for business. Its owner stays faithful to that spirit.
Erin Hansen, who has owned The Little Pig for seven years, kept the name because "it's such an awesome place," she said.
Some newer signs posted on the exterior of the restaurant make note of such offerings as "Grub," "Java" and "WiFi."
An extra touch: some prank wording on the old sign near the street. It teases about there being rude girls and pole dancing.
"Most people, especially our regular customers, know it's just a joke," Hansen said.
The staff has more space in which to move around, even dance around if they choose, now that the restaurant is 500 square feet larger. A convection oven, dishwasher, walk-in cooler and beer-on-tap equipment have been added.
"We're not climbing over each other anymore," Hansen said about the expansion.
The contractor was D and H Roofing and Construction.
There's enough space to serve up to 60 hungry people inside the restaurant, which looks a lot like someone's home. This is the desired effect. "Home-style cooking" is the phrase Hansen uses to describe the food. And the homey decor echoes that mood.
Each of the offerings are "something like your grandma would make," she said.
Customers enjoy their meats, such as the roasted pork. And they have a Traeger grill to barbecue whatever cut they choose for that day's special.
People also enjoy the soups, sandwiches and wraps. Their White Trash soup is the no. 1 favorite, she said.
Breakfast is served all day. And there are baked goods beckoning.
She doesn't have an extensive set menu. Customers don't seem to mind.
"We have the freedom to say what sounds good today," she said. "That makes it fun."
The staff goes out of their way to accommodate special dietary needs and requests, Hansen emphasized.
"That's something your grandma would do," she said.
Along with serving food, the business allows people to express themselves artistically by painting pottery. The seating area on one side looks similar to someone's at-home kitchen. On the other side of the building it looks more like a den or large craft room. Unadorned pieces of pottery are displayed along shelves and a doll house stands with a mountain of Barbie dolls thrown in front of it.
Hansen used to teach pottery from her home. The Little Pig started off as a place for people to feel comfortable so they could freely create. It was a place offering a fun time to paint pottery and have a little snack: a cup of coffee, a muffin, maybe even a hot dog.
"We just followed demand," she said of the evolution to a wider selection of food choices. "This is what people wanted."
And while the business plan originally wasn't to operate a restaurant, Hansen is happy with the way things turned out.
"I like to feed people. Masses of people," he said. "But I like to keep it fresh."
A new fence surrounds the patio area as well. People eat out there when the weather is nice.
Hansen also caters events and offers The Little Pig restaurant space for special events use. Groups seeking an entertaining and artful experience are encouraged to come to paint some pottery.
A large group should call ahead and make an appointment. Individuals also are welcome to create usable art during operating hours without an appointment, she said.
The paint is lead free so children also could safely paint a mug or plate.
The Little Pig's breakfast and lunch hours are 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. On Friday nights they stay open until 8 p.m. The restaurant is open on Saturdays from 7:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.
The phone number is 541-523-9022.